I had the opportunity to participate in a conversation today on the subject of mandatory gun ownership.
I’m against it. I think the concept or forcing a citizen to own a gun is as much an assault on freedom as any effort by the left to ban them.
I think that our society would be safer with more armed citizens, not fewer, but I don’t think the system we have today is up to the regulatory vigor that’s required.
I think we should start with a bias toward “shall issue” of ownership licenses and carry permits. To balance that, I think potential licensees should be subject to very thorough background checks and reasonable waiting periods (7 days) for purchases. I believe the background check should also include a psychological screening test.
I believe that prior to licenses and permits being issued, citizens should be required to undertake some rigorous training, including
- Classroom training and testing with a higher than average passing score of 80%;
- Practical, live-fire range training tailored to the weapon being purchased. Rifles, shotguns and pistols all require unique skills and practice.
- Marksmanship testing for each weapon
I believe there are many good reasons to deny a person the ability to own a firearm. But those reasons should be clearly defined, and when licenses and permits are denied, the reasons should be well-articulated in every single case.
Governments would be wise to require that a licensed gun owner demonstrate higher than average competence and responsibility with respect to firearms. Being photographed violating all four of cardinal rules of weapon safety, for instance, would be grounds for a felony charge and a lifetime ban. To me, a “well-regulated militia” is more about a well-trained gun owner and less about membership dues and government control.
Also, I think that the licensing fees should be fixed at a very, very low percentage of the costs of classes and training. Government should facilitate licensing and farm out training, and not make a dime in the process. In the Bill of Rights, only the right to keep and bear arms costs a citizen money to exercise. It should never be a revenue stream for government, nor should the fees be so prohibitively large as to prevent a citizen exercising his rights.
Privileges should be paid for; rights are free.