In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting massacre, millions of words have been written, spoken, and screamed. The left wants the Second Amendment abolished and all guns collected and destroyed, and the NRA (mostly on the right) hold it sacred and try to prevent any change in the status quo. What the nation gets is stasis, otherwise known as “no progress”.
Once again, a compromise position, a centrist one, is possible. It will not solve all problems, but at least it is a positive step (or some positive steps) in a direction that could be grudgingly accepted by all. The right’s position does not take into account that a majority of Americans find the current situation intolerable, and no action today could lead to more draconian measures in the near future. What the left does not realize, is that with hundreds of millions of guns already in the hands of the public, mostly unregistered, there is only so much that can be done, and over-reaching can seem unreasonable to those who would support sensible measures.
Here is a package of actions we could take, which, when bundled, might be acceptable. I don’t claim any of the ideas are original, but packaging them together might make sense.
- Install metal detectors at school entrances, and hire an armed security guard for each school. Kids are at least as valuable as airline travelers. Funds to flow through Homeland Security.
- Require registration and background checks on any firearm purchase, including gun shows, internet, etc., as well as retail. Criminal background, non-citizenship, or mental illness disqualifies a buyer.
- Prohibit the sale of automatic weapons, and any kit that can convert a single shot or semi-automatic weapon to automatic capabilities. A citizen cannot own a tank or 155 mm. artillery piece; nor do they need an automatic pistol or rifle.
- Re-affirm the Second Amendment.
- Raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, with the exception of honorably discharged military personnel, and peace officers.
- Make an open and generous offer by the government to repurchase automatic weapons that have been purchased in the past. Destroy them or give them to the military services.
- Allow as evidence for issuance of a search warrant, dangerous comments on the Internet and Social Media, as well as neighbor reports to police of possible armed instability.
These measures, if passed, cannot prevent another school shooting. Nothing can. They can, however, lower the probability significantly and increasingly over time. I’m sure there are other balanced proposals, but this is one that I think should be debated.
23 thoughts on “Guns and Gun control”
Thanks for reading (and agreeing), Bert.
All reasonable and make sense. Concern as to how to fund arm guard in every school. I believe root of paralysis, as with so many issues, is how we deal with money in politics. Until we can fix it not very optimistic even centrist proposals will pass
Michael–I agree that money is always a problem, but if we won’t spend to protect our kids, why spend money on anything. Somehow we found the money to protect our air travelers, and one school would with one guard, one shift for five days, will cost a lot less than we spend at airports. Thanks for your comment.
The measures that The American Centrist has proposed seem like a very practical compromise to a very difficult situation that currently exists in our country. I think, if enacted, they would be welcomed by the majority of our citizens. But, with our polarized, divided Congress, the challenge lies not in crafting such proposals, but in how to get them passed.
Thanks, Paul. I can’t quarrel with your posing the challenge, but I’ll repeat my theme song–the presence of a strong and growing third party in the center could force the issue and guide it to a happy conclusion.
Why not pass laws making parents responsible for acts of anyone living at home, especially acts of their children under age 21? Could include forfeiture of property. There should be parental responsibly and accountability for wrongful acts re guns in the house.
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Thanks for the thought. I’m not sure I agree, although there is obviously some rationale to the argument. What if a child is not living at home, but knows where his parents store guns, enters and steals them? What if a child, living at home, breaks into the locked area where the parents store guns?
Then, the parents have to be more careful how they store the guns. It is the responsibility of every gun owner to make sure no one gets to them. If so, they should be punished as well. “Your gun, your fault”. If they don’t agree with such responsibility and love guns so much, they should join a shooting range . If guns are used it for “protection”, Call 911 or buy a bat. How many more kids have to die?
Kermit–it is a bit of a tricky problem. If a gun owner has it for personal protection, it does him no good for that purpose to have it locked and inaccessible to him or her at time of need, typically with little to no warning.
I agree wholeheartedly, except for #1, installing metal detectors. Besides the cost and staffing issues, it is impractical. Unlike an airport, everyone has to arrive at the same time. (“Sorry I’m late for class, but the line at the metal detector was ridiculous.”) Moreover, there was an armed guard at Parkland and the shooter was not a current system. (Neither was Adam Lanza.)
If #2-#7 were indeed implemented, perhaps the metal detector would be superfluous.
I meant current student.
My daughter, Megan, reads your blog and sometimes sends me comments. She did on this one. She agrees with your recommendations; however, her view is that you’ve over-stated the positions of the left and right and that this increases polarization. My sense is that you were stating these positions this way in order to help make your point and in order to represent the split in the country, not because you believe that everyone has such extreme views. Megan is about as far to the left as you’re going to find, but doesn’t want to take away everyone’s guns. She does want to add limits, background checks,…
It seems to me that both the right and the left are increasingly overplaying their hands. In the case of the ‘right’, there is a new ad with NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch that is quite dark and slams members of the media, Hollywood, athletes. It seems to imply that those people will be (should be?) gunned down by members of the NRA by saying “your time is running out”. They will, of course, claim that this is a complete misread of the intention of the ads but it seems pretty clear to me (and others).
Meanwhile, members of the congress and senate are afraid/unwilling to debate popular gun control measures that you mention below; likely because they are afraid that debating them will ‘open the flood gates’. They are probably particularly afraid of being ‘primaried’ from the extremes of their party. Some of these gun control measures are even approved by the NRA. The left makes similar mistakes and lets the perfect be the enemy of the good. “If I can’t have everything, I won’t accept anything.” Stopping bump stocks would not be enough on its own, for example, so they add other measures that make it impossible to pass. The right does the same thing by adding increased concealed carry to a bill extending background checks. This ensures that bill will fail.
It seems that our electoral system has moved from a system of ‘resistors’ to a system of ‘capacitors’. The back-pressure builds up until the seat flips. Then policies are completely reversed. It’s like driving 100 mph and then shifting directly into reverse. Not good for the car. Not good for the country. Obama did a lot of things by fiat; Trump undid them by fiat. The next Democrat will put them back by fiat.
Are we headed for another ‘flip’ in 2018? It seems to me that the ‘Trumpists’ have potentially underestimated women and younger people in the same way that the left underestimated older, less educated white men in the last election. By playing increasingly to small part of their base (steel and aluminum tariffs, anyone?) they seem not to realize that they are simultaneously enraging those on the other side of the aisle (in the case of tariffs, they are enraging moderate and fiscally conservative Republicans). A process that normally has a dampener on it, now has the opposite. Extreme views create even more extreme views on the other side.
OK; that’s enough of my ‘ranting’ 🙂 Thanks for sending out these blogs and for causing thought and hopefully some constructive debate!
From: THE AMERICAN CENTRIST <firstname.lastname@example.org> Reply-To: THE AMERICAN CENTRIST <email@example.com> Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 6:56 PM To: John Yerger <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: [New post] Guns and Gun control Resent-From: John Yerger <email@example.com>
amctrst posted: “In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting massacre, millions of words have been written, spoken, and screamed. The left wants the Second Amendment abolished and all guns collected and destroyed, and the NRA (mostly on the right) hold it sacred”
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John–many thanks for your very thoughtful comments. They hardly qualify as a “rant”. I find nothing arguable in what you say.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but a third party, centrist, would help break the deadlock. By putting forward balanced proposals, such a party could win over the more conservative Democrats and the more liberal Republicans, and forge a majority to pass legislation, one issue at a time.
These are good measures. I think we actually need to amend the 2nd amendment to make them all work, though. Not abolish it, just add some language that explicitly gives government regulatory power over personal arms.
Thanks, Matt, but I disagree with your point on the 2nd Amendment. I think any attempt to modify it in any way would end up killing the rest of the package. Not that I disagree with you in theory, just in practice, and at this point in time.
My point is that some of your measures may force an amendment to the 2nd. I’m not sure th Supreme Court would allow everything in your proposal the way the amendment is written today and with case law, as I understand it.
Thank you … it’s good to see a dialogue on this difficult subject. I do think that you overstate positions but straw men are good for arguments. E.g., I’m a leftie – I don’t want the 2nd Amendment abolished.
Just because there are millions of guns isn’t a strong enough reason not to be more proactive – we had millions of slaves too at one time.
Make the price of ammunition for automatic style weapons significantly taxed … let’s say every bullet costs as much as one cigarette. Maybe guns don’t kill people but bullets do.
Slowly, slowly we accept terms like “Homeland Security” and envision more and more severe measures like armed guards and metal detectors on all schools. What have we become?
Thanks, Rene. I think your idea on taxing ammunition sales is a good one. Your commentary at the end speaks to how technological advance is morally neutral. It can be a force for good or evil, depending on how it is used, and the inventor and maker have little control.
I am not ready to concede that either technological advance is morally neutral [ricin extraction] nor that the inventor or maker [q.v. AR-15 makers] have little control. I recall how assiduously the machine gun makers fought the Clinton era ban, making trivial modifications and changing the labeling of their guns to avoid being in the category. Ditto cigarettes and falsified “science”.
Thank you re: bullets idea but the first time I heard of it was when my wife wrote a note that the NY Times published probably two decades ago.
Agree with points 1-7 (as an affirmed centrist) but would add a Point 8 to effect that anyone whose gun is used to cause harm has “jointly and severable” liability, for any and all damages caused by their gun(s) (assuming my terminology as a non-lawyer is correct) from irresponsible gun use, inadequate storage of guns and ammunition, acting as a “front” to purchase guns for under-age, for criminals, etc.
We have TOO MANY guns in this country and it might be a start to provide a government buy back for all firearms voluntarily surrendered. As an “aside”, it is worth noting that the cumulative number of individual gunshot admissions to ERs in this country in any given year is probably orders of magnitude larger than the number of mass shooting victims that gain so much attention. Guns are simply too available…. to the inebriated, substance abusers, people with inadequate “anger management”, and other irresponsible or mentally incompetent citizens.
I agree it is a “political” problem, and submit the problem is at least partly a function of our primary “system” by which the moneyed and passionate “tails” wag our “democratic” dog and dictate our choices. It appears until we change this “system”, the 80%+/- of our population that appears to favor reasonable, responsible gun control will remain unrepresented.
Thanks, Paul. I have a little problem with assigning liability to some third parties–not someone who purchases guns for a party who would otherwise fail a background check, but with an adult whose weapons are taken from him without his consent, and how one proves that. The way to get legislation passed that is “centrist”, is to have a Centrist party, representing what we consider reasonable solutions, and to get that party into Congress.