December 18, 2012

Sensible gun control

What would ‘meaningful action’ on gun control look like?

By Sarah KliffIn his national address late Friday, President Obama promised “meaningful action” in the wake of the Newton school shooting. The statement left many wondering whether that would entail a push for new gun-control laws. If it does, the White House would have a number of options: One study estimates there are more than 20,000 laws regulating gun ownership already in place.

Advocacy groups and think tanks have worked through a number of proposals they think could reduce gun violence in the United States. Here are a few that have received the most serious consideration.

More extensive background checks.

Ban certain types of firearms.

Increase waiting periods.

Increase public health funding.
Looking for Lessons in Newtown

By Nicholas D. KristofWe have the Second Amendment, which protects our right to bear arms. So don’t talk about gun control!

There’s a reasonable argument that the Second Amendment confers an individual right—to bear a musket. Beyond that, it’s more complicated. Everybody agrees on a ban on fully automatic machine guns. The question isn’t whether to limit the right to bear arms, but where to draw the line.

I’d like to see us take a public health approach that reduces the harm that guns cause. We could limit gun purchases to one a month to impede traffickers, make serial numbers harder to file off, ban high-capacity magazines, finance gun buybacks, require solid background checks even for private gun sales, require microstamping so that bullet casings can be traced back to a particular gun and mandate that guns be stored in gun safes or with trigger locks.
A friend of mine offered the following set of proposed regulations. There's no chance they'll pass, but they sound good to me.

  • a total ban on weapons that fire more than 15 rounds, including add-on magazines

  • a national database of ALL weapons and gun transactions

  • all guns to be titled and registered just like cars, illegal to sell them without a transfer title

  • must pass a psych profile before being allowed to purchase a firearm

  • must pass federal background check before being allowed to purchase a firearm

  • must pass a vision test before being allowed to purchase a firearm

  • must pass a written test on gun laws and gun safety, take 30 hours of live fire training and pass practical gun handling/marksmanship test

  • must be re-certified on all of the above every three years, get convicted of any violent crime and your permit to own/purchase is revoked for the length of your probation

  • must maintain trigger locks on all guns and keep guns unloaded and ammunition locked up in separate location

  • liability insurance to be purchased and maintained current on every firearm you own

  • no open or concealed carry of loaded weapons, firearms may be transported unloaded in a vehicle only

  • Another posting reminds us that the goal isn't necessarily to stop future incidents such as Sandy Hook and Columbine.

    A better target for gun control

    By Ezra KleinYes, in the aftermath of the massacre in Newton, we want to stop the next one. It is possible, and perhaps even likely, that we can’t. Though these rampages have come with searing frequency over the past two years, they shock us so deeply because they remain so rare.

    But gun violence isn’t so rare. According to the Brady Campaign, in the United States, more than 12,000 die after being shot in a homicide each year. More than 18,000 kill themselves with a gun. Almost 600 are killed in a gun accident. More than 66,000 are injured by guns. These traumas sadden, but they’re so common that they no longer shock.

    But they get to the truth of this issue: While we may not be able to stop every gun death, there are lots and lots and lots of gun deaths to stop. And if a deadly mass shooting like the one in Newtown is specific and idiosyncratic in ways that make it very difficult to confront through policy, the average gun death follows a much clearer pattern.
    This may not be obvious to gun nuts, but it is to me. We're trying to reduce gun deaths in general, not to prevent this particular type of crime from happening again. Not as the primary goal, anyway. Therefore, focusing on what would've stopped Lanza is beside the point.

    And here's what not to do:

    9 Horrible Gun Laws Backed by the Right Wing

    For more on gun control, see NRA Enables Mass Murderers and The "More Guns" Fallacy.

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