On the Subject of Guns and Murder

Today, I woke up in my flame-retardant bed, and took a shower with treated water that probably won’t give me legionnaire’s disease. The air outside is clean because the factories across the river have to meet EPA standards. I get in a car and proceed to perform the incredibly dangerous act of driving, but I’ll probably survive; My car is tagged, titled, licensed, insured, equipped with dozens of safety features, and passes government efficiency requirements (it’s not a VW). I listen to an FCC-regulated radio that is required to alert me if there is a natural disaster looming, and probably won’t give me brain cancer. I pass under bridges, jets, and cranes that probably won’t fall on me because they go through mandatory inspections. While I’m away from home, it probably won’t collapse since it was built and wired to national, state, and local engineering codes. Everyone at work has been vaccinated so I probably won’t get a life-threatening illness. I probably won’t get hurt on the job because of OSHA laws. I use a computer that probably won’t burst into flames because it is UL listed. I eat lunch at a place that has been inspected by the county so it probably isn’t rat infested, and the food I eat meets FDA standards, so it probably won’t give me salmonella. I get my paycheck on time because the state requires it. After work, I go to a movie, but despite the 1st Amendment, people can’t yell “FIRE!” in the crowded theater without probably facing criminal charges.

Now imagine a deranged man bursts into this dark theater, locks the doors, and kills most of us. He bought his guns the same day, easily and legally, without any sort of regulation that should have kept him from doing so. This is the reality of living in the United States. And you know what? I’m tired of ignoring the elephant in the room.

The point I’m getting at is twofold: First, laws and regulations are necessary and save lives. The point of living under a government is to promote the general welfare, as long as it is constitutionally legal. Second, in a free country we don’t ban/outlaw things, because that is almost always the wrong approach. When cars were invented and killed lots of people, we didn’t give up and ban them; we put a massive amount of regulations on them and every single year since, the death rate has dropped. Almost nobody is trying to cheat the system and buy “black market cars” and fake licenses. At the same time, nobody looked at at all the car deaths 100 years ago and thought, “whelp, cars are dangerous in the wrong hands and people are just gonna keep dying. Traffic lights won’t work, people will run them anyway. Let’s just have the wild west out on the streets because freedom.”

This is why Americans are sick of near zero regulation of firearms. The vast majority of people don’t want to take your guns away. They don’t want to repeal the 2nd Amendment. They WANT you to keep your guns, protect yourself, and enjoy them as long as you’re sane and responsible (and nearly all gun owners are). They just want the same common sense gun laws nearly every other country in the world has, because they work. Not 100% of the time of course, but they make a difference and save lives.

Additional thoughts on the US gun murder epidemic

1) More or fewer guns is not a solution. There are no reliable stats that suggest the quantity of guns will change the murder rate. Show me one that says one thing, and I’ll show you one that says the opposite.
2) Banning gun-free zones is a bad idea. Just like you might have concerns with someone coming into your house with a gun, a private establishment should have the right to make their own decisions. However, these establishments should be subject to lawsuits if they make no attempt to provide ample security while being gun-free.
3) I don’t think anyone is making the argument to “ban” all guns. That’s impossible and unconstitutional anyway. But I do think that every state should be able to decide what constitutes a well-regulated militia to the extent “necessary to the security of a free State.”
4) Like driving, you should need to pass tests and get a license to own guns. It should be more difficult than walking into a gun show. To me, this is a bare minimum definition of a well-regulated militia. If you haven’t proven your ability to safely own and use a firearm, I don’t think the Constitution is talking about you.
5) Like driving, you should need to carry liability insurance for every gun you own. This will require a third party to analyze each person’s risk factors (illness, medications, history, location, etc.), and they would be incentivized not to insure high-risk individuals and certain firearm configurations. A gun would not be purchasable or transferable without proof of said insurance. Uninsured gun = fines. Insured gun stolen = fines. Insured gun used in crime = fines for insurance company and payout to those affected.
6) Keeping guns from getting stolen or used by children is your responsibility, and an extremely important one. Put a GPS tracker in your gun safe. Some states could have laws requiring this.
7) “Stuff happens” is not a helpful solution. Of course murder will keep happening with or without gun laws, just like drunk driving will happen with or without DUI laws. The point is there are actions we can take to help prevent gun murder and make guns much more difficult to obtain for those that shouldn’t have them.
8) We need to come to serious terms with the mental health issues in this country and what is causing them. I have a feeling the answers are all things none of us want to hear, and that’s why we aren’t asking the questions.

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