A Word About Guns

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.



Author: Paul Krendler

The Thinking Man's Zombie

27 thoughts on “A Word About Guns”

  1. I'd be more careful with all that "above average" stuff or you end up locking at least half of all citizens from the their right.

    You can still bag DDF without all the much rigor.

  2. Nope. Nonstarter.

    Go research Jim Crow "literacy tests" for voting.

    Then go write out, longhand, the following sentence 100 times:

    "I will never willingly support or consent to granting government agents any power unless I am comfortable with that power being exercised at the discretion of my worst enemy."

      1. What AD said is exactly, word for word, pixel for pixel, what I was going to say. So I'll elaborate.

        Background check for violent criminal record and/or insanity. Mandatory reporting by every court of criminal convictions and committals.

        That's it.

        If you are an adult unencumbered by such reporting, your 2nd Amendment rights shall not be infringed.

        Oh, and by the way. In the historical context, "well regulated" translates almost exactly to "well equipped." The Founders were concerned that the militia should have enough guns & ammo to go around, not in making a bunch of busybody rules.

  3. People with concealed carry licenses are 5.7 times less likely to be arrested for violent offenses than the general public and 13.5 times less likely to be arrested for non-violent offenses than the general public. That's without all the "higher than average" training and such you would like to see.

    According to the FBI crime stats, concealed carry holders are pretty much the most law abiding citizens there are.

  4. When you have organizations like the ADA and the AMA on record they are against people having guns, who is going to perform a non biased assessment of your mental health? It would be too easy for doctors to declare everyone mentally incompetent to own a firearm and POW! Defacto ban.

    Same reason that the no fly list, no guns suggestion is a non starter. No due process. You get thrown on that list for any reason... and your rights are infringed with no recourse.

  5. Anything the government touches, it turns to shit.

    Giving the government regulation over a right, gives the government the ability to slowly, slowly regulate that right out of practical existence.

    Gun ownership should be a moral imperative, not mandated by law.

    Training requirements for ownership should never be the gateway to ownership.

    That said, gun safety should be taught in the schools, as should a minimal level of proficiency.

    But don't get me started on public schools...

  6. Looks like I opened a can of worms here! Good!

    I find it difficult to argue with the various points here, and it's not my purpose to do so.

    I think there is a real balancing act here between freedom and the 2A on one side, and public health and safety on the other. Although public health and safety are really on BOTH sides of the scale, aren't they?

    The gun is a tool, no better or worse than the hand holding it. You can take a brick and use it to build a school, or you could throw it through a store window at the next G8 summit. The brick doesn't care.

    You can use money to buy groceries or crack cocaine. The money doesn't care.

    The gun doesn't care if it's shooting deer for sport in Montana, or school kids on a street corner in Chicago (every goddamn weekend).

    The gun is a constant; it's the owner that is a variable. How to control that variable is a very tricky question.

    But I think there ought to be some kind of control.

    I've had my shot above at a "reasonable" suggestion. Clearly it's not favored by the Horde.

    Okay. I'm not embarrassed to say I didn't get it right.

    If you were the benevolent Executive, Legislative and Judiciay, within the bounds of constitutionality, what would you do today?

    1. heyjackass.com tracks Chicago murders daily. There's yet to be a instance of a gun shooting a school kid on a Chicago street corner. Not one. It's other kids doing the shooting.

      I agree with Roy: The Gov't can't get anything right. Every single new law passed infringes on our freedom. And every new law or requirement is just the start. It never ends. Goal posts get constantly moved.

      If Congress banned AR-15s tomorrow... They'd be back in 15 months for something else. Likely high capacity magazines or ANYTHING semi-auto. Heck, why not both? It's for The Children.

      No compromise on 2A. We draw the line here. This far and no farther.

      And don't forget (not that you have, but-), end game for Kimby, Shakey, Bernie, Fauxcahontas and others of their ilk is totalitarianism. Once the state has complete control of everything in your life nirvana ensues because the state will tell you how to live your life. And you WILL live it by what is proper in their eyes because you'll be unarmed and unable to fight back.

      1. Well, there has to be a limiting principle, like Time, Place, and Manner restrictions on speech. (Or the laws against defamation that the DF crew fail to understand) I do think the Supreme Court should apply strict scrutiny to any gun control regulation - the Second Amendment is no less important than the First.

        I think there should be better reforms to the mental health system, including better ways to declare the genuinely crazy in a similar category to minors - no voting, no guns, no economic rights, etc.

        Regardless, the government should operate with the presumption that all adults are allowed to carry a gun, just like the presumption of innocence in a court of law.

    2. I'd cut off all federal assistance to states that do not adequately enforce the existing laws, fire all US attorneys who do not prosecute straw purchases, etc. I'd have the attorney general file suit against any government body that has exemptions for politicians or police for policies enforced against the common man.

      Any state that does not feed required conviction and mental health information to NICS within two weeks will be fined. Consistent failure will result in appropriate criminal charges against the officials who failed their duty.

      I'd rescind the policy against soldiers being armed on base, at least while off-duty. On duty, at the discretion of their command. But I'd seriously question the competence of officers who felt they could not trust their troops -- at least after basic training -- to be armed.

      I'd order the Department of Education, as one of their last acts, to assemble a national gun safety curriculum based on the NRA's.

      I'd order a hefty portion of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for Humanities into building safe gun ranges in cities and suburbs.

      I'd lift all the PC restrictions on counter-terrorism training and call a jihadi a jihadi. I'd order the firing -- and possible treason charges against -- everyone involved in "catch and release" of illegals. The FBI would be ordered to get a handle on immigrant gangs like MS-13.

      Everyone involved with the "fast and furious" program would be locked in small cages, to be hanged over the border with Mexico. The cages would be decorated with bullseyes. After 90 days, their next of kin could collect whatever's left.

      1. Everything you said about soldiers being armed on base gets a PLUS ELEVENTY from me. The rest gets various shades of "rarin!"

    3. The owner can never be controlled perfectly. Because it's not a perfect world. Doesn't work that way. That's why there are laws against shooting other people for no damn good reason.

      If I were the benevolent ELJ, I would eliminate a lot of the bans on weapons that are based purely on cosmetic things, and then go from there.

    4. As ELJ, I would do the following

      1 - Direct all courts to apply the principles of strict scrutiny that we apply to content-based restrictions on speech to restrictions on gun ownership.

      2 - Use of any gun whatsoever in any matter is permitted so long any effects stay on your property and no one is harmed. The only exception is for NBC weapons, those are straight-up banned.

      3 - Based on the above, any regulations apply solely to use or carrying of firearms in a public place.

      4 - Crimes using guns will always carry a more severe punishment than crimes not using firearms, even if the gun was not drawn or fired during the offense.

      5 - All states are required to operate under "shall issue" concealed carry if they want any federal funding for law enforcement.

      6 - Concealed carry and other firearm permits shall be subject to the Full Faith and Credit clause.

      7 - Prohibit liability lawsuits against locations that allow guns, specifically including schools.

      8 - Maintain and improve the system of background checks. If you give someone a gun and you *know* they cannot legally carry it or they are planning to use the gun in a crime, you can be prosecuted. Otherwise, sharing guns is permitted.

      9 - Gun tax credits for poor families, and subsidize gun classes. It's a homeland security issue! Poor blacks in the inner city should be able to afford means to defend themselves against criminals. Why do liberals not want more black men with guns?

      10 - All of the armed forces are allow to carry firearms on base. All honorably discharged veterans are granted expedited review for all gun permits.

      11 - No rules based on what a gun looks like or other irrelevant factors

      12 - Convene a panel of veteran police officers, firearms instructors, and legal experts to develop national guidelines for use of force training - both for police and for gun owners

      Restrictions that I would allow:
      Local restrictions on high caliber / AP ammo in high density areas. This will be based on ricochet/penetration physics.
      Ban minors, felons, illegal aliens, and those proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be mentally incapable of safely using a firearm from owning a gun. This could be appealed or reversed by a court.
      Stringent licensing for automatic weapons and destructive devices, like we have presently but without an arbitrary year cutoff
      Gun free zones that are either private property or meet strict scrutiny (like a courthouse or an explosives storage area)

  7. Under no circumstances is it proper to have to get a government permit to exercise a fundamental civil right. It's just registration under another name.

    My two cents, from the train, on my phone.

    1. I don't disagree with that in principle, but the reality is that the system we have now is built with permits and licenses baked in. Separating from that is a hill I'm not prepared to die on today.

      Can we reach common ground on the concept that there are (cliché warning!) "some people" who have given up the right to keep and bear arms? Felons convicted of violent crimes, for example?

      If we can agree on that (and I'm not 100% sure it's a good thing if we can), is there a way to reach a framework under which we can determine who can be - for lack of a better word - trusted with guns?

      Or, in an attempt to shoehorn this fundamental right to "acceptable" people (and yes, I know how horrible that sounds. At the moment I don't have the patience to find the right PC language. So what?), am I really just pissing into the wind?

      What I really want are more safe, responsible gun owners walking around heeled. I think it's the most efficient way to de-motivate the guy who wants to shoot up the nightclub. Unfortunately, that also adds to the risk of dangerous people (you know...God fearing Republicans) getting them too.

      Is a risk/reward analysis even appropriate when discussing constitutional rights?

      Is there nowhere to go from where we are?

      1. The writers of the Constitution would be appalled at the idea that you would lose your right to carry a gun after you are released from jail, regardless of why you were there. Should someone convicted of fraud or other forms of lying lose their right to free speech after jail? If you do your time, you are free to resume your place in society. I can see restrictions during probation, but they didn't have probation, so we have no help from the Founders on that. But as it is a modified form of the incarceration, I can see restrictions then. Otherwise, the government should have no say as to what, how, when, where, who. That is what "shall not be infringed" meant.

        Do you want a deterrent to shooting up a place? How about the fact that 25% to 50% of the people there might shoot back?

        1. Some crimes bear a permanent sentence. The death penalty, for example. Felons are sentenced to prison, as well being sentenced to lose certain rights permanently. The right to own a firearm is one of those, as is the right to vote. The government had to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

          I support the exclusion of perjurers from legal testimony, save for criminal cases where they are testifying in their own defense.

  8. Interesting though hardly surprising that the media and our congresscritters only want to go after "weapons of mass shooting". I guess the kids in Chicago don't count because they are only butchered one or two at a time, but if Congress wanted to deal with that problem, they'd have to admit that almost none of the weapons used there were acquired legally.

  9. You'd disarm at least half the law enforcement out there on the safe handling alone.

    Thugs, lunatics, and our enemies would still be armed.

  10. PK,

    Several thoughts:

    The 2A was written because our Founding Father knew that the Gov't couldn't be trusted, and you want to allow this same Gov't to control who has the right to own a gun?

    :... is there a way to reach a framework under which we can determine who can be - for lack of a better word - trusted with guns?"
    Have you ever seen the form that you have to fill out to purchase a firearm? The background check that is currently in place is sufficient.

    And have you been listening to what the Liberals have been saying? They want to keep guns out of the hands of "terrorists", the only problem with that is that the DHS think all "Right-Winger" or Conservative Christian is a terrorist!
    When you have the Gov't making those kinds of decisions, then you have opened the door into the Gov't taking away our 2A rights.

    I don't believe in mandatory gun ownership (not everyone is responsible enough to be a gun owner), but I do believe in doing away with Gun Free Zones, because criminals and nutcases may have second thoughts about trying to do what has happened.

    I grew up with firearms, my Father taught me gun safety and how to shoot, and to respect the power of them, as I have taught my sons.

    The biggest misconception of firearms is ignorance, that is what we need to address.

    That and to be realistic as who the real enemy is.

  11. I described above how I'd address the public safety aspect of gun purchases. For CCW permits, completion of a safe-carry course is all I find permissible to require.

    One way I'd do more for public safety is to get the illegal alien population down to a level ICE could actually handle. Most illegals come here for jobs. There's a market for illegal labor, and they naturally serve that market. So the way to get rid of most illegals is to eliminate that market, not to pursue those who serve it. So, first, eliminate the subsidization of illegal labor by eliminating all government benefits to anyone who can't prove they are a legal resident. Enforce that by ruinous fines and dismissal for government employees who don't follow the rules. Then, expand the RICO statute to define a business knowingly employing illegal aliens as a criminal enterprise, subject to seizure, by every state and federal LE agency. Expand the the definition of "knowingly employing illegal aliens" to include failing to properly use the E-verify system. So hiring an illegal doesn't risk a fine, it risks seizure of your entire business and all its assets. How cheap would illegal labor have to be to be worth the risk? Is it possible to survive in the US working that cheap? I strongly doubt that it is. Self-deportation would occur in a massive flood. ICE could then mostly concentrate on the illegals who come here to be criminals.

    Teenagers and other low-skilled workers would become much more valuable as a labor market. I know prices would rise, but real wages would also rise across the board, as this massive suppressing factor was eliminated. You might think that some businesses would relocate to the the cheaper foreign labor, but those for whom that is viable are already doing it. The vast majority of illegal labor is in the service economy, not manufacturing.

    1. Re E-Verify -- you'd also have to eliminate the regulations against using E-Verify to verify citizenship.

  12. A well-regulated militia has the same connotation as a well-regulated watch or a well-regulated mind--well-functioning; nothing more, nothing less.

    My dad taught me to shoot a shotgun--both bolt-action and breech-loading--and in general to respect guns; his old Mossberg 20ga bolt-action was downright fun to shoot. He kept his unlocked in a rack mounted on the wall in the basement and nobody touched them unless we were going hunting; the shells were in the drawer underneath. I guess I'd be comfortable with a shotgun even if hadn't spent 8 years in the Army (even for an administrative job we were trained in the care and feeding of automatic weapons and had to maintain proficiency).

    What else do you want?


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