Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lets Stop the Shooting And Start Making Sense

If you want a briefing on the Republican Party's response to school shootings, I point you to Robbie Republican's post-Virginia Tech article. To quote Robbie: "If everyone on the Virginia Tech campus was allowed to carry a gun, then the massacre would have never happened. Cho Chun Chi would have started shooting and somebody would have popped a cap in his ass. But nooooo. The teachers are too scared that if you allow guns on campus, some kid is going to go crazy and start shooting up the school. What are the chances of that???"

It's an argument made by right-wing-minded people every time a tragedy like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School happens. If only those kindergarteners had weapons, THEY COULD HAVE DEFENDED THEMSELVES.

Of course, its an argument that inevitably swallows itself. If guns were even more prevalent in our society, it would stand to reason that the likelihood of them falling into the wrong hands would go up, not down.

With 26 dead (mostly children), plus the shooter, the question comes up, "What to do about gun control?" According to the nation's leaders during the Presidential campaign, there's nothing to do. Barack Obama made it clear he was too gutless to take on the issue, and Mitt Romney was so far in bed with the gun lobby that he practically spits ammunition when he brushes his teeth in the morning.

But hey, for shits and giggles and possibly saving lives, I'm going to attempt to propose a practical solution.

First, let us all, Democrats and Republicans, agree with the following statement:

"Law abiding, sane, responsible people should be allowed to own firearms. Crazy, criminal people should not."

All agreed? No? Well, then leave. The rest of you, lets move to step 2.

In order to reduce gun violence, we need to enact measures to keep guns out of the hands of those who might cause harm.

Here we get into our first tricky area. "Who might cause harm." How do we define these people? There are a lot of angry, wacky people out there who won't necessarily start shooting up schools or movie theaters. How do we distinguish the harmless crazy from the harmful crazy? And once we do, how do we make sure that legally purchased firearms don't find their way into the wrong hands?

My proposal:

1. First, you should be required to first apply for a permit, which then requires you to spend a number of hours at a licensed shooting range before you're allowed to have a gun of your own. Sort of like being a restricted driver with a learner's permit. At this point in the process, a background check is begun, looking at criminal database, homeland security databases, no fly lists, and a new database where psychiatrists and counselors can report potentially violent patients.

2. When the required hours are achieved, you must pass a written exam on gun safety. Like a driver's license written exam.

3. After passing the written exam, you must pass a "gun test," like a driver's test-- demonstrating mastery of gun safety and proper use at a licensed gun range.

4. If the background check clears, then a gun can be issued. In order to sell the gun, the title must be legally transferred to another licensed person.

None of this prevents a weapon from being owned. In fact, by focusing on gun safety, it assures that gun owners are more responsible. Just like there will always be drunk drivers, there will be people who pass the tests and still screw up. But imagine if no drivers' licenses were issued, and any person could drive with just a minimal background check and no training. How dangerous would our roadways be then?

What this does do is increase the time it takes to get a weapon. And in that time, a lot can happen. There are a lot of people brought in at different stages of the process who have the opportunity to shut it down if its clear a guy is intending something terrible.

Of course, the gun lobby doesn't want anybody to have the power to deny someone a gun. After all, a gun is a product that makes a lot of money for its manufacturers, and making it harder to obtain a weapon hits the business's bottom line.

If manufacturers were really serious about safety, they would include features like smart biometric triggers, a feasible technology that allows a gun to be fired only by it's registered owner. This kind of technology should be required.

And of course, you ban rapid fire killing machines like assault rifles, which have been banned before and should have never been allowed back into stores. Short of creating your own army, there's no reason for such a weapon.

You enact these measures, you reduce the risk. You won't end shootings altogether, but you make it much harder for the batshit crazy people to destroy lives.

Of course, for that to happen, the government has to step up to the gun lobby and focus on protecting its people. But as long as the NRA supplies the big bucks, the bullets will fly.

Who will they hit next?

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