I am taking a few moments to outline what I believe to be the most logical, balanced, and common sense plan for Gun control I can think of. I will debate the actual topic of gun control in future posts, this post is just to propose what I feel sensible gun control will look like. This plan is fully compatible with the Second Amendment, which does allow for the owners of gun, set forth as a militia to be “Well Regulated” referring to proper training and management.
The Gun Control plan focuses on gun licensing. The gun license proposed would be legislated in such a way to protect the gun rights of legal owners while restricting gun access to people who have proven by their actions that they are not responsible enough to safely possess firearms.
Part 1: The License
The possessor of the Gun License is granted 3 rights in regards to fire arms
1) Gun Purchasing – they are legally allowed to purchase the firearms their license qualifies them. Because of the way licenses are managed and can be revoked, the license would also replace the need for a background check. Sale to an unlicensed individual would be illegal
2) Gun Ownership – this refers to all rights of ownership of a firearm, including the legal sale to other licensed members
3) Gun Custody – this refers to the right to legally possess the firearm you own and assume the custody of another’s firearm with permission of the owner (this will be explained in a bit)
There will be several classes of gun licenses, corresponding to firearm type, and can include special licenses for activities such as collecting. This system would restrict different types of firearms to people, but it would potentially also allow for a greater access to firearms. Instead of banning certain firearms based on type, a person would just have to meet stricter licensure requirements to gain access to certain firearms. Provided you meet the requirements, that AK-47 could legally be yours.
Part 2: Getting Licensed
Licensing would be contingent on passing a background check and meeting training and safety requirements. Additional requirements for more restricted types of firearm may include intended purpose of ownership and a set period of time with a less restricted class of firearm license to prove responsible ownership.
Private individuals can be certified to provide the training and evaluation for applicants to meet Licensure requirements. Instead of having a firearm DMV, you can go to a certified private trainer and take the approved course. This would prevent artificially created restrictions on licenses.
Trainers would be monitored to make sure they don’t pass people without proper training, and would be encouraged to flag dangerous individuals for licensure rejection. If you are a trainer, and you don’t feel safe letting a specific individual have a gun, you can fail him.
Part 3: License Suspension/Revocation
A license suspension/revocation can only occur based on demonstrated mental instability to a degree that they become dangerous to themselves or others, or if the person commits acts of violence or are scientifically known to be predictive of gun violence.
When a license is suspended, the person loses the right to firearm purchasing and custody, but still remains legal owner of all firearms that have not been used in a crime. What this means is that they cannot buy new guns, and cannot be in possession of their guns during the suspended period, but they can make ownership decisions such as selling, them, giving them to others with licenses, etc. When the suspension is over, they gain back custody of their guns as well as the right to purchase. Similarly, revoking a license revokes the right to purchase and have custody of the firearm, but ownership still remains.
Part 4: Custodianship
If a person has their license revoked, they can hand their guns to another license holder for Custodianship. This Custodian, however, accepts shared legal liability for any gun violence committed after custodianship is assumed. If Bob agrees to become the custodian of Jim’s guns, and after this point Jim goes out and shoots someone, Bob is now an accomplice. This may seem harsh, but it balances the rights of Jim’s long term ownership with the risk of his violence by adding someone who is taking responsibility for Jim’s firearm use until Jim is capable of assuming that responsibility for himself. If Jim really is that unstable, then Bob does not have to be his Custodian.
Part 5: Purchasing
Licenses will exist in an easy scanable data base. This will allow people to instantly check if a purchaser owns a valid license, and if the person buy is using a legitimate license. Firearms sales can be tracked so that guns used in crimes can be tracked to their last legal owners. This will cut down on straw purchases, and prevent guns from ending up in unlicensed hands.
This gun control plan creates a sensible path for gun ownership that is “well regulated” while providing access to people who can prove responsibility. Because the licensing creates legally defined ways to achieve ownership, because of the separation created between ownership and custody, and because of the need for specifically defined acts that are predictive of gun violence to revoke licensure, the legal mechanisms for a complete confiscation of guns not used in crimes will be weakened, alleviating fears of “the government coming for your guns.”
What’s more, this plan creates the potential for a firearm guild-like style of gun control. Instead of fighting for and against the law providing/restricting access, this method will create a method of self-policing. If you feel not enough people are allowed access, you can be certified as a trainer to make sure anyone who meets the requirements have access. If you, as a trainer, feel someone is too dangerous to own the firearm, you can cause their rejection. Do you think Jim’s suspension was not warranted? Then become his Custodian until the suspension is over, and take him to the range, and let him shoot his gun under your supervision, so he can still enjoy safe use while waiting for his rights to be reinstated in full.