Saturday, 5 December 2015

Thoughts on Gun Ownership

Tomorrow is the 26th anniversary of the day a young man armed with guns and a hatred of women stormed into the Polytechnique School of the University of Montreal.  He shot 28 people, mainly women, killing 14 of them.  This event caused the Canadian government to pass some of the most stringent gun laws anywhere.  How many gun-related incidents with multiple casualties have there been in Canada since then?  22.

Fast forward to 2012 where a young man from Newtown Connecticut stole his own mother's gun and killed her with it, and then went into an elementary school to kill 6 staff members and 20 children. Were there any changes to the laws?  Nope. None. It has been debated ad nauseum but nothing ever gets done.  There have been over 350 mass shootings in the United States THIS YEAR ALONE.

Consider this:

Whatever laws are eventually passed (whenever that will be) The U.S. must address the real issue of keeping guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them without penalizing the millions of responsible gun owners.

1) What if there was legislation to make every crime committed with a gun a federal crime? This would guarantee uniform enforcement across all fifty states. Make it simple: Use a gun, go to federal prison. Past history has demonstrated that this does function as a deterrent.

2) What if people demanded a nationwide standard of liability? If you own a gun, you are responsible for keeping it safe.  If your gun is used in a crime, or if it is fired by accident resulting in injuries to others, then the registered owner should be legally and financially accountable for those consequences.

3) What if people also demanded a nationwide standard of seller liability?  If a shop or an individual sells a gun that is later used in a crime, that seller should be held liable as well, especially if he failed to adequately perform a background check.

4) What if the law required a nationwide three-day waiting period before a gun can be sold to a buyer? This would allow the seller to run appropriate background checks and it would allow buyers the opportunity to rethink the hasty impulse buy.

All of the above should help. They would not penalize responsible gun owners. They would slow down the access to guns by criminals, the mentally disturbed, and potential terrorists.  But there is one more thing that could be done, and  it would not violate the Second Amendment, not even the most extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment: gun insurance.

Just as car owners are required to have insurance, gun owners should be required to have insurance for themselves and their weapons.  It can be done state-by-state or at the national level.  Then gun owners would have sufficient incentive to protect their financial obligations. The federal government would not have to manage gun ownership: the insurance companies would take on that responsibility.  Applying the same resources to gun ownership as they do to car ownership would result in low rates for responsible gun owners.  Because the great majority of gun owners in the United States are responsible, their insurance rates would likely be as affordable as car insurance.

With a requirement for gun insurance in place, law enforcement agencies would then have new mechanisms for protecting the public safety.  Such a law would not empower the government to confiscate a person’s lawfully-owned weapons, but at the same time if a person was found to have a gun that was uninsured, the state or local government would have the authority to hold the weapon or weapons in impound until proof of insurance is demonstrated.

Therefore a solution to gun safety is to have it be cost-effective.  Have it be a source of income for insurance companies.  Once the corporations can see a way for gun safety to be a profit source, the result is inevitable.

1 comment:

  1. I remember that Montreal massacre. Glad it changed things so much here. Hope changes can be made everywhere.