A First Step towards Commonsense Gun Laws

For decades, most Americans have supported measures to tighten access to guns. In fact, never in the past thirty years have more than 15% of Americans favored looser gun laws. Yet over that period, restrictions on guns have consistently been watered down. Despite overwhelming public support for sensible regulation, it has never been cheaper or easier for Americans to gain access to guns. (See 7 Reasons It’s So Easy to Buy A Gun in the U.S.)

Key to this political failure is a lack of focus. The gun industry, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their allies keep their sights on the singular goal of blocking all regulation. They have successfully trained their supporters to view every gun control measure as the equivalent of confiscation, while obscuring their real purpose in a dense fog of misinformation. Meanwhile legislative energy is diffused into a myriad of bureaucratic half-measures. Banning “bump-stocks,” regulating magazine sizes, or other mostly symbolic measures actually dissipate political momentum. Despite decades of declining gun ownership, we now have more guns in circulation than there are citizens. Gun industry lobbyists like the NRA continue to win and profit while the death toll mounts. Even the most horrendous American mass murders have not led to meaningful gun law reform.

It may take a generation or more for any sensible regulation to bring our gun carnage down to the modest levels experienced by other wealthy nations. But we must start somewhere. The system with the most potential for reducing gun deaths would impose registration, training, and insurance requirements on gun ownership. However, one crucial reform is necessary to make such a system possible.

We simply have to repeal federal laws that ban gun registries and gun tracking. Specifically, we could start by repealing the provisions of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act that block the federal government from creating a gun registry, and make it difficult for states to build their own.

An insurance requirement, with strict liability, could create an atmosphere in which the incompetent and the insane would find it very difficult to obtain firearms. Meanwhile, trained, responsible owners could be freed from the byzantine and often contradictory rules enacted through a generation of “gun control theater.” This approach would greatly simplify police efforts to track guns used in crimes and prosecute illegal dealers. Gun insurance for the irresponsible would gradually “price-in” the risks, pushing them out of the market. This simple change would not be perfect, and it wouldn’t change America overnight, but it would protect gun rights while imposing obstacles to criminals and the mentally ill that do not exist today.

See Moms Demand Action on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MomsDemandAction/

See follow up post “Did You Know that Police Usually Cannot Lookup Guns?

See also “Under the Gun” documentary film – 2pm Sunday March 31 – Wayne Public Library

5 thoughts on “A First Step towards Commonsense Gun Laws

  1. How logical — make getting a gun just like getting a car. We have to ask, why isn’t the AAA accusing the government of trying to take cars away from us by requiring driver’s licenses and insurance….

  2. Catherine M Kazan March 26, 2019 — 8:45 am

    Great insights. There are so many places to start with common sense reform. However, if we don’t continue to apply pressure it won’t happen. We have to stay vigilant and demand our “representatives” take action. Thanks Bob for this article.

  3. “Despite overwhelming public support for sensible regulation, it has never been cheaper or easier for Americans to gain access to guns.”

    Do you have anything to back this up? I would love to share this with a citation of a couple examples on how it is cheaper and easier to access guns now versus in the past.

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