Part 1 of 3
Gun control in these United States is, and always will be, a conceptual nightmare. There is so much raw emotion and inescapable personal subjectivity surrounding it that it is impossible to reconcile what we want from what we need and should have. This discussion does need to be had—now is as good a time as any—but know this going in; the chances of coming to consensus and agreeing on a course of action are impossible.
Yep, I said impossible…
…but something that is impossible only means that it is that way in the current condition, governed by physical laws (unbreakable) and human derived laws (completely arbitrary and ultimately transient) where these characteristics do not change. It does not mean impossible forever.
We cannot change physical laws (i.e. a small mass traveling at very high speeds is able to impart a disproportionally high amount of localized force at impact with a slow or unmoving object) but we can certainly change human derived laws as they are simply ink on paper, so to speak. The question then is, how do we change those laws when—in the instance of gun ownership—their very essence is enshrined in the singularly controlling document of our society where the second amendment, directly after freedom of speech, specifically calls out our right to own guns (ignore the militia wording for now).
That freedom is intrinsically entwined with all of the others enumerated inasmuch that removing one (or significantly devaluing it) will substantially affect the viability of the others, or so it’s thought, and I would argue; thought correctly, because that document is the heart and soul of this grand experiment, this America, that was created so differently, so fundamentally individual-based where it is a citizen centered society versus the ministrations and outright ownership of us by king and queen, Pope and state.
America was created as a direct reaction to the oppression and suppression of the individual by monarchy as well as papal protectorate. We were born from the will to be free from those shackles and were the first of our kind on this planet. Read that again…the first society based on our specific freedoms…on this planet. That’s kind of a big deal…a really, really big deal…so I hope you can see the relative impossibility of wholesale change to that document, to us as a society.
We have also made it very difficult to change the constitution unless there is a focused, all-encompassing effort to do so based on a virtually nationwide consensus…at the very least, 2/3rds of all state legislatures must ratify the change, called an amendment. While not impossible—we saw this occur for women’s voting rights, for prohibition and it’s repeal as well as several other “country level issues”—the amount of effort required for such a process is likely far behind us now.
We simply know way too much about way too much today, something that could not be said as little as 50 years ago. The forces necessary for the success of such an effort are too dispersed, too exclusionary, too focused on their tiny little issues to actually join forces and push through such a massive constitutional undertaking.
Finally, I don’t own a gun—I will never own a gun—but I do believe that gun ownership is here to stay, in fact, it has to stay for our society to remain ultimately viable, to remain as it was omnisciently envisioned hundreds of years ago. But that is not to say how that ownership might be regulated, might be intelligently administered.
Part 2 of 3
Based on the structure and content of the Constitution, as written and amended, and the fact that it is extremely unlikely (I say impossible) that it will be altered within our lifetimes, we must agree that gun ownership is an inextricable part of our national identity (whether you personally have a gun or not is immaterial) therefore we then need to discuss how that ownership is going to be regulated to try to prevent the kinds of tragedies that have occurred recently.
Regulation, in and of itself, is meaningless when disconnected from coherent policy and/or strategic direction therefore it is that policy that first and foremost needs to be conceived and set at the federal level before adequate and encompassing regulation is even considered. There is no (or what exists might as well not be) adequate federal policy concerning gun ownership now. You may argue “Then what the fuck does the ATF do?” and the enjoining answer is “Not much.”
Current gun ownership policy (i.e. adjudicated via the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)) is based on an adversarial and conflict generating relationship between the US government and its citizens, it Is not meant to prevent nor even slow the occurrence of the type of mass tragedy recently seen in Sandy Hook but instead is meant to protect the current monopoly that the Federal government has on the policing of weapons (and tobacco, alcohol, etc.). You may think that they are the same thing but in reality they have two entirely different planned outcomes.
Because the ATF focuses on the *policing* of the above listed items, they do not have provision to actually understand a grassroots level of gun ownership nor, as stated, does their mission nor their charter state as much (see ATF.gov). Their overarching assumption is that if they are involved with you in relation to a firearm, then you are, by definition, a criminal because they only deal with criminals. There is no way, even off-label (i.e. local authority interpretation), for the ATF to deal with a public crisis where the majority of the participants are all in legal good standing re; the firearms owned. In short, how can they regulate the lawful ownership and use of firearms when their basic mission/charter is to create and enforce policy that assumes that the aforesaid use is illegal. How is policy like that supposed to create any kind of regulation that is palatable to a document, the constitution, that says that owning a gun is a right.
You can see the conflict.
Based on the above, on history as well as intelligent analysis, for our 2nd amendment guaranteed freedom of gun ownership to be adequately and fairly regulated, there has to be a separate and/or controlling interest within the government that starts from the assumption that while gun ownership is a right, it’s use and purpose must align with the best interests of the citizenship as a whole, the same as every other adequate and fair policy-based regulation that exists now. We regulate many things, also identified within the constitution, that in some cases prohibits and/or denies certain uses of those items therefore there is plenty of precedent that can be modeled for the new gun ownership/use policy.
I am not an expert on these policies nor have I claimed such expertise but I am a thinking and feeling human as well as a citizen of this country. I would hazard an opinion that regulating guns should be similar to the way that we regulate prescription drugs inasmuch that we can define the various levels of firearms, including fully automatic weapons, into classes like drugs and then have specific authorities (experts similar to doctors) who can “prescribe” said weapons based on manifest need and experience. The “user” of the weapon would need periodical check-ups to ensure that the need and the experience continue to be adequate for the class of weapon that they have.
Citizens that exhibit behavior not consistent with a safe and sane society would be denied use of specific weapon classes…if they are allowed weapons at all. Some behavior that may affect legal gun ownership *and use* might be mental health records, prison records, location and/or other pertinent facts that can be documented and presented to the prescriber. A similar organization such as the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) can be created that regulates gun ownership from a beneficial use perspective (versus the exiting one promulgated by the ATF) and certifies and/or trains the controlling authorities (the prescribers). Similarly, both guns and ammunition should be subject to traceability regulations so that an evidence trail, from manufacture though purchase record, will always be maintained….similar to the way pharmacies are regulated now.
For example, if you present your request and the documented evidence shows that you are mentally stable (and *all dependent relatives* within your household are mentally fit as well), that you have no criminal record, that you live in a rural area and have sufficient land (area size) and sufficient expertise (again, documented) there should be no reason that you should not be allowed to purchase and own any type of hand held weaponry that you can afford.
This includes fully automatic rifles (which are illegal to own now).
Based on a well thought out policy such as the one described here and the resulting regulations that would be created, the citizens of this country would have zero reason to fear gun ownership or be afraid that those weapons may be used against them…or their children.
This is merely an opinion as the actual policy would need to be very well thought out, not derived from some “hare brained” idea from some guy on the internet…but hopefully you see that there can be adequate and fair policy as long as the original assumption is based on reality and, most importantly, the constitution of the United States of America.
Part 3: Freedom’s Future