Originally published in the Inside Daily Brief
I’m a gun owner, which might (or might not) come as a surprise to some of you who’ve seen me talk about gun control on social media from time to time. Of course, I talk about personal freedom a whole lot too, which I think makes me a model of how most Americans feel about guns, which is pragmatic and depressed.
There is no question we have a gun violence problem in the United States, as this weekend’s tragically record-setting mass killing in Orlando demonstrates (not to mention the murder of YouTube personality Christina Grimmie less than 24 hours earlier.) There are clearly differences between all of these horrible shootings, but you wouldn’t know that from how each side of the argument uses them to push their extreme agendas of “no guns” or “no limits on guns.”
We’ll see what the investigation in Orlando turns up, but these stories tend to triangulate around mental illness, easy access to powerful weapons and “lone wolf” terrorism. This time, we’ve also got to contend with the loathsome hate crime aspect of the senseless murder of over 50 people.
Lone wolves feel distraught, that the system has screwed them over and that they have nothing to live for, and suddenly an opportunistic radical group — or the voices in their head — leverage that isolation to achieve even more sinister goals. They’re very hard to deal with and impossible to solve for completely.
Gun control feels like our most challenging issue as a country, as our founding charter was designed to be difficult to change. Attempts to abolish the Second Amendment, in some ways, feels to patriotic Americans as evidence for why the Amendment exists — as a bulwark against unchecked government power.
Of course, the Founding Fathers didn’t give us many details about how easy it should be to get firearms, if criminals should have them, what the waiting period should be, or if you should be able to buy, say, a grenade launcher! Thanks, guys!
Perhaps the stalemate we’re in is exactly what our forefathers intended, a rough and tumble battle that makes us fight for every inch of progress or maintaining the status quo. Or perhaps the Founding Fathers didn’t anticipate that technology would exist allowing one armed individual to savagely murder over 50 people in just minutes. (How could they, in a time when the average gun took a couple of minutes to reload and the accuracy wasn’t particularly precise?)
So, here we are, a polarized country dealing with extremist groups, deadly weaponry that’s absurdly easy to obtain, a mental-illness crisis and a (largely) link-baiting media corp that makes their bones by soaking up page views and ratings when people die in random attacks.
There’s a solution to this, but only if we can assure the gun-owning public (around 33% of US adults) that the Left isn’t driving toward a gun-free society, with incremental controls as a pathway to complete abolition of gun ownership.
The reasonable compromise seems like requiring insurance based on how deadly a weapon is, combined with background checks and licensing, just like how we deal with cars. Of course, this can never happen if the Left insists on “no guns!” and the Right insists on “no limits on guns!”
In my plan, a revolver might cost, say, $100 to insure every year — about 1/3rd of the cost of the gun. A more powerful handgun with a larger magazine might be $250, while assault style riffle would be $1,000 a year.
The time to get a licenses would increase as well. Just as a standard driver’s license might take a week or two of effort, but the license to drive a big-rig might take weeks or months of training. If you want to buy an assault riffle, be prepared for a certification course and insurance, which would provide ample time for law enforcement — and the insurance companies — to red flag bad actors.
Right now, the time, cost and paperwork between wanting to pull off a mass shooting and getting powerful weapons to enact those plans is minutes. In my model, it would take months — and it should take that long if we’re going to allow them.
Now, a gun-free society would just be wonderful, unless you’re some conspiracy theorist who believes that a random individual, once thought to be unelectable, figures out how to hack the political system and take office, and then dismantle our democracy, starting with journalists, while blaming the poorest and defenseless among us. In that case, well, you might really appreciate the spirit of the Second Amendment.
What a depressing mess.
What do you think, is there a solution? Could we ever get both sides to the middle? Are you in the middle or on the left or right — and why?
Originally published in the Inside Daily Brief – subscribe to get all the best news in your inbox.