Law-Abiding Citizens Have Nothing to Fear from Reasonable Gun Control Regulations


A system of registration and insurance would protect everyone from effects of gun violence.

A risk of the current gun control squabble is that people with a history of mental illness will be scapegoated ("Guns don't kill people. People with mental illness kill people."). But as is demonstrated by comparing the nearly simultaneous knife attack on school children in China with Connecticut's tragedy, guns do kill people; other weapons less so.

Alas, a prohibition of assault weapons and bullets will probably work as well as any prohibition; in this case, as gun advocates warn, it is likely to mean that the only persons in possession of assault weapons will be criminals (and the police, but that's an argument for another day). How much better -- instead of creating special classes of citizens or another highly profitable traffic in contraband -- to make firearms themselves the target of reform. The licensing of automobiles provides a model (although in contrast gun control, since we're starting virtually from scratch, offers an opportunity to create a national system instead of relying on a hodgepodge of state regulations):

1) People who wish to shoot would be required to take a course in firearm care, handling and safety (similar to Drivers' Ed). They would need to show proof that they had fulfilled course requirements and to pass a test.
2) People with no record of violent crime who wish to own a gun, like those who seek to own a car, would be required to register the weapon and show proof that the weapon is insured: if the gun causes injury in the commission of a crime or through accident or negligence, the victims will be compensated, even if through theft or loss the registered owner no longer possesses or controls the weapon.
3) A national database would track firearms. If you buy a car, truck or motorcycle, that vehicle's record of involvement in accidents, recalls, etc., is easily available to you by a simple check of the VIN. Gun manufacturers would enter the serial numbers of new guns into the database and that number would be reported each time the weapon changed hands as it moved through distribution channels to owners. Gun manufacturers and distributors would carry insurance on weapons under their nominal control. Except for a small additional cost in fees and insurance spread across the industry and the entire 40% of the population that is armed, this system would be no more onerous than auto registration and insurance (the reason to insure weapons instead of users is to guarantee that no matter what the particular situation a victim of gun violence will be compensated). A portion of registration fees or insurance charges would need to be set aside for persons injured by non-registered firearms.

A system of this sort would go a considerable way toward making guns safer -- by separating the criminal population more clearly from the mass of lawful guns owners; by lessening the likelihood of accidents; and by reducing the impact of gun misuse on victims by the application of personal injury liability insurance to firearms -- without creating new populations of second-class citizens (for example, by using such squishy notions as a "history" of "mental illness").

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