Last weekend saw a confluence of three of the most pressing problems facing this nation: guns, immigration and hate. As typical, our president played golf during the tragedies, and then offered a tepid, at best, response that addressed none of them with any degree of adequacy whatsoever.
The most pervasive and easily addressable of these three is the easy access to firearms, unique to the United States. All that’s necessary to fix the problem of guns in this country is the political will to do so.
Even under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller ruling, the rights of individuals to own firearms may be legally restricted if the law is written correctly. Justice Antonin Scalia, in the majority on Heller, said, “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on ... laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
No firearm available for sale to civilians should have a capacity of more than 10 rounds (even better, six), and should require both hands and a double action to reload.
Prior to civilian ownership of any firearm, there should be requirements for training, licensing, registration and insurance. These standards would allow for all of the self-defense and sporting activities that “justify” civilian firearm ownership under Heller, while holding the Second Amendment sacrosanct. They also avoid the “assault weapon” nomenclature silliness.
Then, the question becomes, what to do with all the firearms already out there not meeting those standards. Australia and New Zealand, both countries with a pioneering/individualist ethic similar to that of the USA, have provided the model.
Once the law is passed, provide an ample window for a government buyback/voluntary-surrender period. Then, make it a felony for a civilian to possess a firearm that does not meet the standard.
I could see leaving an option for licensing and registration of the weapons similar to what has been in place for fully automatic weapons for almost a century, if there is a national consensus that these weapons are somehow necessary in the public domain.
Once the buyback/grace period expires, anyone caught in public with a noncompliant firearm will be arrested, be charged with a felony, and surrender his or her Second Amendment rights. No need for a door-to-door confiscation regime, which would be a bloodbath for both civilians and law enforcement.
You want a WMD weapon of war? Join the National Guard (you know, the “well regulated Militia”). It’s time to act.
— White, a retired fire services chief in South Florida, lives in Orange City. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.