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These are my current thoughts on gun laws that would radically change the culture and safety of gun ownership in the United States without removing the rights of gun owners or compromising their privacy rights.
* Please feel free to link to, or just copy, these ideas. It would be wonderful to see them spread widely and eventually become the basis for something to rally around and become legislation. *
Update: 3/3/2018 I added #7, increasing the age to purchase.
1. Background Check Process
Anyone who wishes to be a gun owner can obtain a “gun owner id” card. These cards do not indicate that someone does own a gun, or if so how many guns they own. They only indicate that they have passed any necessary background checks. The ID would feature a photo and description of the owner and an ID number. At the time of sale or transfer, the seller calls the phone number on the card and verifies that the ID number remains valid. If the ID is valid, the sale can take place. This process is already in use in some states for people who have concealed carry permits and works very efficiently. A firearms class indication on the ID could indicate whether the holder can purchase “general” firearms, or a higher level of licensed firearm as defined by the Firearms Act of 1934 (e.g. fully automatic).
Mental illness is not automatically considered grounds for the loss of the right to own firearms. General illnesses like depression and anxiety should be treated rather than used as ways to remove firearms or to discourage owners from seeking treatment. Mental health providers should be responsible for reporting those cases which they determine may make someone an unsafe owner, in which case a court will be required to made the determination to invalidate a person’s right to own and purchase.
2. Gun Registration through licensed, private, escrow companies
The serial number of every firearm you own must be registered with the private escrow company of your choice. The escrow company updates a federal database containing only the gun’s serial number and their company as the current escrow holder. Your personal information is stored securely by the escrow company you have chosen and is only released to the government with a valid court order. If you chose to pay for it, you may request that the escrow company uses every legal recourse to appeal the court order and until such a process is exhausted no information is released. You can choose an escrow company that you consider trustworthy. The NRA itself could easily be a licensed escrow company for that information. Most current gun retailers could be escrow agents as well, however the penalties for failure to keep accurate records and to secure those records would be steep. More likely, smaller gun stores would act as agents for one or more dedicated escrow companies.
This is a one-way method of tracking guns used in crimes back to their owners, while making it impossible to start with someone’s name or ID and determine if they own a gun or if so how many and what kind they own. If a court does remove someone’s right to own firearms after due process, the person is responsible for selling or transferring them to someone else. The assumption is that once ordered, the gun owner will comply with the law. If some agency believes it is necessary to search and confiscate firearms in that case, they will need a court order to do so.
3. Changes to the classification of semi-automatic firearms
The Firearms Act of 1934 already classifies some firearms as much more restricted than others. Shortened barrel shotguns, fully automatic weapons, and carbines (shortened barrel rifles) are all much more restricted now than other types of firearms. This classification has withstood decades of scrutiny in the courts. A single change should be made to that list, adding semi-automatic weapons capable of firing more than “N” rounds per minute, where “N” is defined somewhere above a common revolver and below current large capacity semi-automatic rifles and handguns. This change would make these kinds of firearms more difficult to purchase, own, and carry in the same way automatic weapons are today.
4. Tracking the Sale and Transfer of Ammunition
Sales of ammunition not used on-site at licensed gun practice ranges would require showing the same purchase ID card as buying a firearm. Volume purchases beyond “N” rounds in a given time period would reported. Ammunition purchased and used at licensed gun ranges would be exempt from such limits and reporting provided it was not taken off site. In this way, gun owners could practice at ranges while remaining untracked by any government agency.
5. Loaning of firearms or sharing firearms
Any gun owner may share or loan a firearm to someone known to the owner, provided the person also has a valid purchaser ID card that covers firearms of that license level. If a firearm is found to be in the hands of someone who does not have a purchaser ID or is not licensed to have that type of gun, the licensed owner is subject to civil or criminal penalties which can include the loss of the right to own or purchase firearms.
If a firearm is stolen, the owner has a limited time in which to report the theft. Failure to do so, or repeated reports of theft, can be considered evidence that the owner cannot properly secure and track their firearms and penalties can include the loss of the right to purchase and own firearms.
6. Public Carry Laws
For regulation on carrying general use firearms which includes revolvers, bolt action rifles, and other firearms not capable of firing more than “N” rounds per minute, local laws should apply. This includes both open and concealed carry. Laws may be state, county, or even city based. A community should be able to make its own determination on what firearms are allowed in public among them.
Private homeowners and businesses should be allowed to prohibit all types of carry simply by using signage indicating that preference. Similarly, private homes or businesses should be reasonably able to obtain licenses to allow firearms practice, display, or use subject to public safety needs being met.
Semi-automatic weapons capable of firing more than “N” rounds per minute, fully automatic weapons, carbines, shortened barrel shotguns, and other weapons as defined in the Firearms Act of 1934 which require additional licenses should be either kept secure in the home on private property, or be kept unloaded in a locked storage container while being transported directly to or from a licensed range.
7. Raising the purchase age to 21 years old
Minimum age for the purchase of most firearms including all semiautomatic weapons and ammunition should be 21 years old. Most of the more dangerous psychiatric issues that are severe enough to be related to mass shootings tend to manifest in late teens and early twenties. The most serious of these can usually be spotted and diagnosed by this age. Those that aren't are very likely to have had serious legal trouble by that time as well. Further, by 21 most of them are no longer focused on high school problems.
I welcome THOUGHTFUL and CONSIDERED comments. Any trolling, links to propaganda or videos are not welcome and will be deleted. Repeated trolling may result in being tracked and reported.
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