Bullet Points

Gun control. You like the idea. That’s great. Me too. But it isn’t really as simple as you think. There are a lot of guns. Many different types. Lots of existing rules in place. I am often frustrated reading about gun control from either:

  •  The guy (pretty rarely a lady) who is legitimately planning what he would do to overthrow the government in the instance they turn evil or form a dictatorship, or if the zombies come, or some gang decides to randomly lay siege to his home. His knowledge of constitutional law ends about 60 words into the Bill of Rights.
  •  The guy (or lady) who only sees people dying by guns, and equates guns with evil, and thinks America will change overnight to become a bunch of hippies who ban guns and give homeless people jobs planting trees or something. His or her knowledge of firearms is primarily based on films and stereotypes.

Now most people aren’t these people, but the dumbest voices get the loudest and I’m on more than one gun-related subreddit so that isn’t helping. So here it goes: I own guns. More than one. I like guns. I know the difference between a clip and a magazine. It annoys me when you do not. I grew up in a state (Vermont) full of guns. There is no gun control. There are very few homicides. How is this possible? Well it is sparsely populated, incredibly homogeneous and generally better educated than some other areas of the United States (Thanks, Act 60!), with relatively little gang activity and everyone is wicked high like all the time. It has nothing to do with more guns making people safer. Sorry, gun bros.

But I’ve lived around the country and not all places or populations are the same. Cities are different from rural areas, and stoney Vermonters are different from the bible-thumpers of my new home in the Confederacy. We’re a big fucking country, so we have to compromise. A federalist would say we can leave gun laws to the states. That is ill-advised, because unless we put up a border fence between all the states to prevent Vermont’s guns from sliding down to Boston, or D.C. or Chicago, it doesn’t work. It has never worked. D.C. has strict gun laws, so they buy guns in Virginia, or Pennsylvania, or North Carolina and drive them back into a very un-walled city. So we have to compromise on a NATIONAL law. I’ve been thinking about how to do this for a while, and I think I’ve got something that could work out alright, if everyone stops screaming at each other. It doesn’t take away anyone’s guns (except fully automatic weapons – but come on), unless they fail to follow the regulations or pass a background check. It doesn’t regulate based on appearance like the assault weapons bans of the past. It doesn’t prevent the sale of AR-15s (sorry, hardcore anti-gunners). But it is a series of steps in the right direction, so check it out, I guess:

The biggest issue with gun control is probably that we have at least one gun per person in the United States. Some of those guns will never go away, and shouldn’t – pump, break, bolt and lever action hunting rifles and shotguns are an important part of life in a lot of America. Farmers protecting livestock from predators like coyotes, licensed hunters taking deer or elk home for delicious jerky. These firearms are the most useful and the least good at killing a bunch of people quickly, so we shouldn’t worry about them as much. Sure, they can still kill people, but a lot of stuff can kill people. The really good killing guns are coming up next, and we’ll deal with them. These should be subject to regular background checks, via NICS, like we do now. No loopholes, no private sales. Background check, get the gun day-of purchase, all is well. Go shoot something (not someone).

Research and records on guns in the US has been intentionally hobbled, both in access to data and funding, so I don’t have an accurate number, but for the exercise’s sake – let’s say those relatively innocent Elmer Fudd shotguns and deer rifles account for 50% of all firearms…

…so now we’ve got around 150 million (once again, not an accurate number) semi-automatic and automatic (yes you can legally own an automatic weapon in a number of states with the proper NFA tax stamp and a more stringent background check which usually takes months) weapons. Semi-automatic and automatic firearms fire shots in rapid succession, which is great for killing a lot of things quickly. It is also great for: fun times at the range; sport shooting competitions. Fun doesn’t outweigh human life, so the main points of regulation will be on these firearms.

Handguns are the easier target, since they are responsible for the majority of gun homicides and suicides. So they get heavily regulated. Big background checks (much like you need for an automatic weapon), annual registration (like your car),  a tax to pay for the registry,  perhaps for some sort of victim’s fund for the victims of gun violence as well, and strict storage regulations (many other countries require safes for firearms). What good is background checking purchases if shit just constantly gets stolen? Let’s say that’s half of all semi and auto weapons. So 75 million handguns now have to be registered and taxed, surrendered to the state or sold to a licensed dealer. Some are untraceable, for sure, so they’ll float around, but all that paperwork and the fees will definitely limit the amount of handguns in private homes and the amount sold each year.

It won’t be instant, but the number will shrink as older weapons become unserviceable, and unregistered weapons are discovered by law enforcement, and people get tired of registering and paying an annual tax on something they may rarely use. Maybe in 10 years we’re down to 40 million handguns, the majority of which are registered and stored in safes in the homes of people who have underwent thorough background checks. And, probably (and importantly), a lot of those people would be responsible firearms enthusiasts with hours of experience and training – not just people who bought a handgun on a whim at Bass Pro. That’d be some solid improvement. But once again, due to a distinct lack of research funding, these are guesses.

But the last thing, and this is the tricky one, is the semi-automatic rifle. I’m assuming we should just get rid of automatic firearms altogether – because truly they serve no purpose other than being super fun or killing a bunch of people. The semi-auto is a different beast, however. The Ruger 10/22, for example, is a semi-automatic rifle chambered for the ubiquitous, tiny .22LR cartridge. This is a rifle a lot of kids learn to shoot on because of the cheap ammo, light recoil, and small size of the firearm. It can look like this:
10221
Or it can look like this:

10222

They are the same gun. That is why previous “assault weapons” bans, based primarily on cosmetic differences in firearms, have been largely ineffective – they don’t account for the actual nature of the weapon. A little bit of black plastic and something becomes infinitely scarier, but the only increased capability of this weapon is its larger magazine – which would fit in the wood-stocked version just as easily. What you probably know about the American man, who is the largest purchaser of guns, is he loves cool shit. Black plastic stocks with pistol grips and flashlights and lasers are cool as fuck, and he wants them. You anger him by taking away his ability to buy cool plastic shit. Plastic shit doesn’t kill people, the action of the firearm does – the mechanical parts that do all the shooting and bullety-type stuff (for you laymen). Illegalizing specific types of rifle furniture (the parts that are typically wooden) would be like illegalizing spoilers because they make cars faster. Your Honda Civic is still slow, your Mossberg 500 is still just a pump-action shotgun, you just bought a bunch of useless accessories to look cool. That’s what American is about – useless consumerism – don’t try to change that.

shotty
Astute readers will note that this is actually a Remington 870. The giveaway is the safety location. Still covered in stupid accessories, though.

 

The Browning BAR is another great example of a classic semi-automatic rifle. Chambered in a number of big-game cartridges, it generally holds 4-6 rounds in its magazine, although they can be modified (by a gunsmith or handy gun bro) to accept larger capacity detachable magazines. But usually it isn’t modified. It just shoots deer or elk or bear, or most likely sits in a safe somewhere in your grandpa’s house until you inherit it, then it sits in a safe in your house.

bar
It looks like it should come with a free red flannel shirt, right?

This is why magazine capacity legislation is far more significant than appearance-based “Assault Rifle” legislation. A pistol grip or foldable stock does not directly inform the ability of a weapon to kill multiple people in quick succession, nor does a semi-automatic action. I would argue a pump-action rifle with a 30-round magazine is far faster than this BAR semi-auto with 5 rounds per mag. Also, the term “assault weapon” is ill-defined and entrenches both sides of the issue. Important as well is distinguishing types of magazines: detachable magazines, ala an AR-15 are different than integrated magazines, like a semi-automatic shotgun with a tube magazine. It would take a second or two per round to reload a 8-shot Mossberg 930 shotgun, but only a couple seconds total to reload that 5 shot BAR above, or an AR-15 type weapon, if you had an extra, pre-loaded magazine.

When it comes to limits ten rounds seems to be the number adopted by a number of states, and it is easy to remember, so why not ten rounds per weapon? That’s it. Ten is enough to have an IDPA-style sport-shooting competition with those highly regulated pistols (a lot of people love using 1911s, which only hold 7 rounds anyway!), it is more than enough to hunt anything in the United States (most states have magazine capacity hunting laws anyway), and if I have to defend my home from some armed madman, I better not be firing more than 10 shots, because that means a lot of them aren’t hitting their target and are flying through my walls and windows and into places I can’t see. Every good firearms enthusiast can tell you that violates a key rule of gun safety “be sure of your target and what is behind it.”

But what about all the magazines out there more than 10 rounds? Good question. Voluntary buybacks would be great to start, but that wouldn’t get rid of all of them. Much like with the illegal handguns, they will be seized during regular law enforcement actions, and break down over time. Also, the appeal of having a high capacity magazine is lowered when you can’t take that magazine to the range because it is illegal. I suppose people will hoard them for the apocalypse, but having most of the high-capacity magazines hidden in bunkers is better than available for purchase at chain stores and online retailers. I’m not going to say we should raid houses to take tiny plastic boxes with springs in them. That’s ridiculous, and people will just start 3d printing them or something anyway. We can’t just make this shit vanish overnight.

Another problem here is the Marlin Model 60. Almost as ubiquitous as the Ruger 10/22, it is a .22LR semi-automatic rifle with a high-capacity tube magazine. Tube magazines are not detachable, though, and as the owner of a Marlin Model 60, I can tell you it is slow as hell to reload that thing.

marli60
You have to pull out the spring loaded tube below the barrel, load in each tiny cartridge by hand, return tube to its home. Might as well be a musket.

Rimfire long guns below a certain caliber (let’s say .30) with non-detachable magazines could be exempt from the magazine capacity rule. No need to alienate thousands of people because their childhood rifle is now outlawed. Compromise.

And that’s it. Sure there are some really deep legal details to work out about who manages the background check database and revising police reporting procedures and FFL licenses for dealers and all that, but mostly the infrastructure is in place. The NFA background checks happen every day for Title II firearms, they just need to be expanded. Firearm registration exists in many states, it just needs to be federalized. And you get to keep your guns. Pretty much all of them. Shhh…it’ll be ok. It isn’t a slippery slope. This tiny bit of reform would probably be the most rocky, craggy, uphill slope of all time. And hopefully less people will get shot.

To summarize:

  •  Universal background checks – no more private sales, no gun show loopholes, etc.
  •  10 Round Magazine maximum.
  •  NFA Title 2-type background checks for handguns.
  •  Mandatory annual registration and taxation of handguns, just like a car.
  •  Mandatory storage requirements for handguns – specifics are up for debate, but locked up somehow.
  •  You can put whatever cool-ass, mall-ninja, tactical shit on your firearm you want. Rails and lights and lasers and grips to your heart’s content.
  •  You can own guns. Really easily. See, no one was going to take away your guns – unless you have automatic guns, in which case uhhh, sorry, gun bro, you don’t need a machine gun. Maybe buy a sweet laser sight for your other guns?

If you like this, I’d be happy to also rant on concealed carry, “castle doctrine” and the secret desire all American males have to be the hero this city needs, and/or some version of Daryl from The Walking Dead. Man, that guy is cool. Crossbows will remain unregulated under this plan.

Advertisements
Bullet Points

20 thoughts on “Bullet Points

  1. Mark says:

    In South Africa we are already heavily legislated in terms of firearms ownership yet sit with the problem of high gun crime. Many illegal weapons surfacing are military/police sold or stolen by the members of these two forces. We also have the ANC and other liberation movements who will not confirm what they have done with the soviet weapons smuggled into SA during the Apartheid era. There are many AK’ out there and its been rumored that former MK soldiers( ANC cadre) have access to these weapons. I like what you say and think that firearm owners should be held more accountable especially in terms of safety at home and the access that others have to your arms. The only thing that I do not see getting agreement on is an annual tax on firarms. We have to do 5 yearly renewals on our firearms and that is great, even though the authorities here cannot cope and make it frustrating for many owners.

    Like

  2. scottpriz says:

    It’s a little bit unfair to compare South Africa to the United States. A lot of those problems you mentioned wouldn’t exist here. (We’d have issues of our own, but I don’t think quite as serious as what you listed. We just don’t have much of an AK type weapon problem here.)

    On the original post, as an incredibly anti-gun person- I think have to be at least a little crazy to want guns- I think these are excellent suggestions.

    Like

  3. Conrad says:

    So just how many ‘automatic weapons’ do you think are in the hands of Americans? You know that an automatic weapon is going to cost you somewhere in the region of $10,000 at a minumum, to buy, from one of the fixed number of automatic weapons in private hands in the US, that already require Title2 paperwork to transfer. Damn near the only people who have automatic weapons are well-to-do folks, the majority usually who are also licensed gun dealers or range owners. Most folks I know who spend a bunch of money on their shooting hobby, accept that they will never justify the cost or hassle of owning an automatic weapon. Needless to say, they are used for crimes about as often as bugattis are used for getaway cars.

    Like

  4. Redmond says:

    National registry = no go. Sorry, I know you think you’re being clever, but this is not a solution and it will never get thru Congress. Also will not stop a murder from happening.

    10 round magazine restriction. I’ve never understood this. It only takes one bullet to kill someone. Also will not stop a murder from happening.

    Universal background checks: only apply to legal sales, does nothing to stop black market sales. Also does nothing to stop murders.

    Storage requirements: Ok, it’s not a bad idea to lock up your guns, but this is just one of those things where people think they know what’s better for everyone else, and want to make people do what *they* think is best, whether it is or not. Almost *everyone* I know that has more than a revolver in their sock drawer has a safe or lockbox. Also will not stop murders from happening.

    “You can put whatever cool-ass, mall-ninja, tactical shit on your firearm you want.” – To me, this is the biggest problem with the gun debate. People who don’t want guns talk as if they are going to graciously ALLOW other people to own something. This is how I know this article is bullshit. Go fuck yourself, perdidobandito. I’ll fucking do whatever I want because I’m an adult and I don’t need anyone’s permission, thank you very much.

    “sorry, gun bro, you don’t need a machine gun.” – Finally, my favorite anti-gun argument because it is the simply the most ridiculous and the easiest to counter: I can literally make a list of every single thing on the planet that isn’t food, water, or shelter, and make an argument that you don’t “need” it. NOT AN ARGUMENT. Also, will not stop any murders from happening (but is that what is really important here?)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. AngryCodger says:

    Redmond, have you given up on reducing the number of gun deaths? Are there any steps you would suggest that could reduce the average criminals access to a handgun? You claim to be an adult so it seems like you should be capable of having a discussion that doesn’t involve telling the people you disagree with to “fuck themselves”.

    Like

    1. Redmond says:

      You really want to know how to actually solve this problem? Somehow I doubt it, but I’ll start by saying you don’t solve it with “throw a bunch of kittens at the wall and see if any of them stick” approach listed here on this blog.

      How to solve a problem 101:

      1. Figure out what the fucking problem is first.

      Hmm… that would be an interesting concept, wouldn’t it?
      ~30,000 gun deaths a year….
      60% of them are suicides
      leaving ~10,000 – 12,000/year homicides…
      only about 200-300/year are mass shootings…

      Let’s see… should I spend my time and energy trying to solve the SMALLEST part of this problem that is going to be the MOST difficult to solve?! Are mass shootings the problem?!? Is having a big magazine the problem? Are rifles even the problem? (hint: the answer is “fucking no, you idiot”)

      How about focusing on what is the biggest contributor to 10,000 or so MURDERS every year… yes, that is only 10,000 gun murders a year in the U.S. Doesn’t really sound like an “epidemic”, does it, especially when you compare it to things like, oh, I don’t know… CAR deaths.

      How about completely legalizing all drugs in the US which would not only eliminate the majority of gun murders, it would reduce prison populations, generate massive revenue thru taxation to help the addicts, etc. It’s a win, win, win, win.

      And you want to talk about acting like an adult? What kind of fucking adults continuously ignore the fucking FACTS? There is no other way to put it: If you think some new gun laws are going to stop anything bad from happening, you are a FUCKING DUMBASS. I am done trying to help people who are so completely stubbornly stupid and only believe what their stupid political party idols tell them to think.

      If you cannot think for yourself, and refuse to think critically about a problem, you don’t deserve respect. GO FUCK YOURSELF.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t disagree with your core arguments, but the profanity is unnecessary. You’re not helping our cause by attacking a non-gun person making a reasonable attempt understand the issue and find some middle of the road conclusions, even if some of those conclusions are naive.

        Like

      2. You are clearly a reasonable person with the type of level headed patience and lack of temper that I trust to own guns.

        I’m just kidding. You’re acting like a tool and you’re only looking at a single approach to an incredibly complicated issue. If you want to stop murders, remove handguns as they are behind most murders in this country.

        Just looking at facts, y’know.

        Like

  6. Frank Lilley says:

    Good post!! Thank you! I do differ regarding magazine capacity. 10 rounds could EASILY not be enough . . . especially if there were multiple intruders. 20 round capacity is a minimum. But do away with the 50 round capacity + ones seems okay to me. AND I agree that a national registry is a no-no! That could NEVER get passed in 100 years!!

    Also, a properly maintained weapon can last for years and years and years . . . even if heavily used. IT would probably take 100 years for attrition to reduce the number of weapons. A secondary parts market would develop and it might even take much longer!!!

    Like

    1. Tell me the next time you hear of someone fighting off 20 ‘intruders’ into their home. This is a hollywood style fear that always gets brought up by pro-gun peeps and I just find it such a silly fear-based concept.

      If you’ve got 20 intruders coming at you, you’re probably fucked with or without a gun.

      Like

  7. Hastur says:

    Nobody will go for NFA restriction on handguns. You can also legally own machine guns btw…however they are NFA restricted and because of limited availability they are very expensive.
    People will think you’re equating a handgun to a machine gun…and your suggestion will get shot down. People will also fight annual taxation (rightfully). Your car isn’t constitutionally protected in the way your gun is. You wouldn’t accept an annual tax on your ability to vote and you shouldn’t accept an annual tax on your ability to legally own a firearm. People will vigorously resist registration but I think that is more reasonable. You register to vote and that is your most constitutionally protected right.

    Like

  8. These seem very reasonable. It seems like if someone is against it they say it won’t work, rather than “hm, yeah that and this additional thing together might start to alleviate the problem.” There is a gun you can wear with a ring or fingerprint detection. It won’t work unless the person designated to use it is using it. We could end thievery if the gun didn’t work after it was stolen, just like similar technology helped with phone theft. If a woman was afraid to take out her gun in a violent situation lest it was taken and used against her she wouldn’t need to be worried. If you want to protect your household you wouldn’t have to run to a safe if the gun was already protected. Suicide is a real problem though, and I don’t have a solution for ease of suicide that a legally purchased firearm provides. Sorry that you’re so angry Redmond, I’m sure your cat will get better and come back from the vet good as new.

    Like

    1. Redmond says:

      “if someone is against it they say it won’t work”

      I’m not saying it won’t work because I’m against it; I’m against it because it won’t work.

      Just like I’m against your “smart gun” proposal because it won’t work. I’m not saying the technology won’t “work”, but it is technology, and it is unreliable. You liken it to a phone, does your phone work 100% of the time? Mine doesn’t, and when it comes to firearms, anything less than 100% reliability is not acceptable for something that is intended to be used to save your life. That is why we don’t have this yet. I know you’re going to say I’m just poo pooing your AWESOME idea because I’m a baby-killing-gun-nut, but I would be on board with this if the technology were reliable, but it is just not.

      “I don’t have a solution for ease of suicide”. Nobody really does, and we never talk about this even though it is 60% of the problem. We keep talking about magazine restrictions and gun free zones. None of these proposals will solve the problem. Do you really want to keep proposing solutions that will never get passed in Congress, and will not do anything to help with the problem? Wouldn’t you rather think critically about the problem and come up with ACTUAL solutions that will solve ACTUAL problems?

      I am also just flabbergasted that the supporters of a political party that demand a logical, scientific approach to a problem like climate change revert to an irrational, emotional approach to the gun debate like a bunch of anti-vaxxers.

      In case you haven’t noticed, we aren’t going to compromise, and we don’t have to because you guys can’t get anything passed. We’ve already realized this, and when you guys finally realize this, then maybe we can stop wasting time with you guys tossing out random, obnoxious, nonsense “solutions” that won’t work. You guys keep crying about gun people aren’t playing fair, or we won’t “compromise” (meaning we won’t let you just have your way), but in reality it’s just that your ideas suck, and if you came up with good ones, maybe we would agree with you.

      Like

      1. Yeah, we can get back to important things like trying to repeal Obamacare over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and

        Like

      2. Webster says:

        People don’t like it when lots of people get shot in public, which happens in America more than anywhere else at our level. Sure, it’s a small number of people compared to cancer / auto accidents / health complications of all sorts. But people don’t like their kids getting shot, even when it doesn’t happen very often. So, people say, hm, is there a way to slow down mass murderers by making mass-murder guns less easy to get?
        And what happens? Angry shitstorms like yours, Redmond. They’re not trying to solve every problem. They’re trying to solve this one. Your answer of “it’s not going to happen” and “your ideas suck”, well, what’s your idea? The problem is that it sounds a lot like “my weapon is fun, too bad crazy people get them and shot your kid. Oh well, it’s worth it.”
        Lots of things are regulated. 10 year olds can’t drive cars. I can’t set up an amp and blast Dixie Chicken into my neighbor’s window at 200 dB. I can’t sell deer sausage at a supermarket without someone checking it first. I can’t drink a liter of Maker’s Mark and then drive around in an unregistered 1974 El Camino that half-burns a gallon of fuel per mile. We accept these restrictions on our freedoms because as a society we accept that some restriction is better than anarchy. Why spit on people who are looking for ways to make this problem less of a problem? What’s your idea, Redmond?

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s