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Gun Violence - A New Approach

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 5/10/2015 Harry Leibowitz
GUN CONTROL © mphillips007 via Getty Images GUN CONTROL

The latest massacre at Umpqua Community College was all too familiar and in the aftermath, the media lit up with all kinds of arguments on both sides of an issue called "GUN CONTROL."
Sadly, I believe that the very problem here is the title given to this issue... the word "control." Control is a pejorative word that conjures up very negative images of "big brother" pushing us around and dictating our lives in ways that Americans feel impinges on their freedoms. None of us wants to be "controlled."
In many industries and parts of our culture, we have significant "controls" but we do not call them that... it is all in the language we use. Recently I wrote on this site about "profiling," another pejorative word.
When used in industry we call it "target marketing" and it is totally benign and acceptable... but call it profiling and it raises grave concerns.
Imagine if we called driver's licenses "driver controls" or medical licensing "physician control." This is where I think we need to make a change of course. Let me be clear, I am not one of those voices that believes we can or should eliminate all guns in the USA. This is unreasonable and unconstitutional.
However, if we require licenses to drive a car, to perform surgery, to practice law, then why not require a proper licensure procedure for gun ownership? I am now over 70 years old and in California to renew my driver's license I had to take a test to show I am still mentally able to operate a motor vehicle. But for guns? If you commit several moving violations you lose your license and right to drive... but guns? If you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs you lose your license... but guns? If you drive recklessly and/or commit bodily damage to another person you lose your license... but guns?
Imagine if we simply required, at the minimum, the same rigor for gun ownership that we require for driving a car, how much safer we would all be. Each gun owner would require a license for which they would have to demonstrate their ability to use that gun, pass a test that proved they were mentally responsible and understood all of the laws related to gun ownership and usage.
This in no way infringes on the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, any more than licensing you to drive a car or licensing a doctor to perform surgery impinges on peoples' rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
In the USA as of this date there have been 294 mass shootings in 274 days. Too many of these have been at schools and colleges making our education system for children highly vulnerable and unsafe and thousands of people have had their lives altered forever.
When my children were young and went to school I considered it a safe haven for them... but today, my grandchildren are in danger every day at school. This is just not right... and adding more guns to the school grounds would only add to the problem.
The argument often made against any kind of change in gun ownership laws is that "more guns... more people to protect us and themselves." So I checked this out. According to the press, there have only been nine incidents since 1997 where a shooter was eventually taken down by people present with a firearm, and of these only two were regular citizens. All the rest were off duty police officers or ex-military personnel, clearly qualified in weapons management.
So you do the math. Over the period since 1997, there have been an estimated 4,000 mass shootings and two... just two have been interdicted by citizens with guns. The argument of arming the citizenry to stop mass shootings is just not true and has been proven to be a "red herring," but it has been so broadly promulgated by the NRA that large numbers of people believe it is a fact.
Back to the opening premise of this article.
I urge the leadership of our nation to do two things and both are easy to legislate and do not in any way infringe on the right to bear arms guaranteed in the 2nd Amendment:

  1. Stop pushing for gun control and start pushing for gun licensing;
  2. Establish a national standard for licensing every firearm that, just like every driver, must be licensed and require owners to prove they know how to use, protect and control that firearm, and that they are mentally stable enough to have a gun. We would not license someone with severe mental challenges to drive a car... so why should they be able to own firearms?

This will not totally end the gun violence we are seeing and it will take a long time to implement, but doing nothing should not be an option. This plan will not take guns out of the hands of the many who are able to demonstrate their knowledge and qualifications to bear a firearm. However, it will mitigate against those ill equipped to handle firearms while allowing all responsible citizens their right to bear arms.

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