The Insoluble American Gun Probem

gun_control030413Another day, another massacre. As many people have noted, including the president of the United States, this has now become grim routine.

So have the arguments.

America is uniquely set up to have a particular problem with firearms. It has a mythologised cowboy culture of self-reliance and individualism – taken to a ‘toxic’ extreme. Misinterpretations of the constitution (in regard to this issue) now enshrined in law. A stubborn belief, despite the statistics, that guns help, protect people and solve problems rather than cause them (or make them worse).

The USA’s culture further worsens the problem by being so militantly against things like universal healthcare or government provision and social investment. Things that are know to be effective in reducing crime and violence and in the case of medical care, better mental healthcare provision would doubtless cut such incidents significantly.

Even these basic facts, and the fact that gun control works in every other nation, are contentious in America. There is absolutely no way that the public, or the Republican Party, nor much of the Democratic Party will ever be persuaded to pursue an effective gun control (or banning) agenda, nor any way such would succeed. Such a change would be incredibly hard to enforce in the USA anyway and would not really begin to bite for a long time – longer than an electoral cycle.

If any solution is to be found here, it’s going to need to account for the intransigence of American politics and the utter hostility towards the best known measure – gun controls and bans. It’s also going to need to work around the hostility to increased social provision and investment.

Innovative and lateral-thinking methods of addressing the problem will need to be come up with if any progress is to be made.

My idea, which I humbly submit for consideration, would be to treat guns more like cars. To combine and extend current basics and to introduce a new controls and methods of minimising harm.

  • Guns need to be licensed, controlled by age similarly to cars – which we also recognise require responsible and careful owners.
  • Gun licenses, perhaps, should only be issued to those able to pass a basic test. A written test on proper storage, conduct and safety. A practical test of safe control and target shooting.
  • Licenses should be restricted from being issued to people with certain mental or physical issues and those guilty of certain crimes  (and should be revoked if these develop).
  • Licenses are compulsory and cost money, yearly, not unlike UK Car Tax. Per weapon.
  • There should be compulsory gun insurance, similar to compulsory car insurance. Insurance for each weapon (group rates) which pays out should your gun harm or kill anyone, or be used in a crime. It doesn’t go to compensate you of course, rather it compensates the victims. You can act to minimise risks and costs, or you can pay more.

The most important and innovative part, I think, is the last. Insurance companies don’t care about anything but the bottom line. They would be motivated to do factual research so that they can do effective risk assessment and set levies appropriate to the cost. Insurance companies may even deny insurance to high risk clients, which would take a ‘ban’ out of government hands, or bankrupt organisations like the NRA which might, initially, insure the uninsurable until they run out of money.

The additional costs that would introduce into gun ownership and the additional tools it would provide for arrest and legitimate confiscation should have a good effect. Especially in poorer communities where gun violence is a larger risk. It should work to depress the number of weapons owned, while allowing those that absolutely insist on owning firearms to still have them. It would encourage safer behaviour and measures taken to minimise risk (lower power, lower capacity, properly stored and high tech safeties) which would reduce premiums.

The additional tax revenue would allow more government programs to tackle related issues – if the political will could be found – and the non-tax revenue involved would provide a boost to business.


9 responses to “The Insoluble American Gun Probem

  1. What’s this? A foreigner commenting on the flaws in another country’s culture? Why it’s…CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!

    (Except, you know, it really isn’t)

  2. Except that gun control hasn’t worked in any country. The U.K. even admitted it hasn’t, with their government having an extensive report on it. We have the highest gun ownership rate, but lower murder rates than Brazil, Russia, Mexico, etc. There has been no misinterpretation of the Constitution. It is quite clear that Americans have the right to defend themselves. It says so in bold ink. In Chicago, a city with more murders than the Afghanistan war deaths, they have some of the strictest gun control laws. After concealed carry was issued they hit over a fifty year low on violent crime. State crime went down all over. Your proposals are completely illegal inside the U.S. You could try, but they’d be thrown out automatically since they’d violate many Constitutional rights.

    • America has a much higher murder etc rate than the other countries with gun control and reasonable rates of lawfulness. Australia’s gun ban reduced gun deaths and gun crime by 50% in short order. The Constitution is utterly misinterpreted. The reason was for The People (the nation) to defend itself in a time when it had no standing army. That role is now fulfilled by the National Guard which is essentially the modern version of the militia in the clause. General gun ownership is neither well-regulated, nor a militia. Creating a zone of relative gun control when everywhere else is gun crazy isn’t going to work. My proposals for gun insurance etc sidestep the whole constitution-mangling and entrenched gun fetishism by simply making the true cost of owning weapons explicit and financial while retaining the spurious ‘right to bear arms’.

      • Incorrect. U.S. murder rate is decreasing. And I see that you cherry pick crimes involving guns. Australia’s ban did nothing. Homicide rates were decreasing before the ban. In 2001, robbery with a firearm increased 160%. A ten year study showed that the sweeping ban on private ownership had no effect on criminal activity. The Federal Constitution is clear as day. The National Guard is not a militia, it is a branch of the U.S. military. The militia was incorporated by the Founding Fathers that if the people needed to defend themselves again from a tyrannical government, they would have the right to do so. However, you are misinterpreting it by thinking that is involved in firearm ownership. It’s also safe to assume you have never read the document since well-regulated does not affect gun ownership, only the militia part. And everywhere isn’t gun crazy. I don’t know where you gunsense get this idea. And your “financial payments” to own a gun is unconstitutional since it restricts the right to bear arms by not allowing law-abiding citizens to exercise their right. You’d be violating many rights by forcing them to pay to exercise their rights, with nearly all Americans affected. People gave tried making citizens pay to own. It’s been struck down.

      • This is what I mean about delusional gun fetishism and historical revisionism and why I chose to address the problem in a different way, but instead you’re engaged in talking-point gun defence by rote.

      • There isn’t gun fetishism on a mass scale like you make it out to be. Hell, if there is, it is extremely uncommon. As for historical revision, there hasn’t. Have you ever read American history? Especially the Founding Fathers opinions on firearms and defense? Or perhaps Supreme Court decisions? There is no “rote” talking point. I’m explaining through scientific evidence of how gun control has failed. Hell, the Bath School Massacre was the worst in U.S. history and didn’t even use a gun to kill. You don’t like guns? Don’t come here. You don’t get to dictate another country’s rights because you don’t understand them.

      • The facts are gun control works, very well. You only have to compare the US to other nations to see that, or what did happen in Australia ~50% slash in gun related deaths. The constitution is derived from old English law and contextually was about providing defence for a country with no standing army – again, the National Guard fulfils that requirement now – and it was never meant to be wholesale gun ownership. All the talking points are guff. Guns make you less safe, not more. They’re rarely successfully used in self defence and usually make things worse, they’re more likely to kill you or a member of your family than any intruder and they were never meant to be wholesale owned by anyone and everyone forever. The FF were mostly rationalists, they’d be appalled today.

        But gun control of the sane kind elsewhere in the world won’t fly in the US, so innovative solutions are needed. Gun insurance would allow for ownership, but at a societally commensurate cost. Just as car insurance doesn’t count as impinging your right to free movement. The US needs to solve its problem and more guns isn’t going to do it and gun fetishists will never be sold on giving them up, so innovative solutions are necessary.

      • I have no idea where you get your statistics, but you can’t be more wrong. The following link shows how gun control has failed, with sources cited.
        The Constitution was written to give civilians rights, not providing defence for a country with no standing search. Again, you’re being a moron. The National Guard is not a militia. They are military user for state governments, and on occasions for the federal. The militia clause was written so civilians could have the right to form an army if a tyrannical government took over to prevent what the British attempted prior to the American Revolution. A Harvard study, among countless others including statements from officers, says otherwise, showing that more gun in private hands lower crimes. Studies show that 50,000 to a few million gun self-defense usage takes place each year in the U.S. And incorrect. Criminals target people that aren’t armed, making firearm owners safer. The Founding Fathers intended for wide gun ownership and to be owned by anyone who was law-abiding since the British restricted the ownership of arms in the late 1700s. It won’t fly because we respect individual rights in a higher scale unlike other countries. Insurance won’t pass because that’s discriminating people who can’t afford it. It’s an unjust burden on people and violates the right to own a firearm. We are solving our problems by expanding the right to defense. If you looked at statistics, our crime is plummeting. Especially in areas that remove firearm restrictions.

      • And this is why it’s impossible to have a rational conversation on the stats. The pro-gun side viciously cherrypicks and manipulates data and accuses the other side of doing so too (some do). So the whole thing’s a non-starter when people don’t grok statistics, history, parsing the English language and all the rest of it. These are the very problems that necessitate a different approach. Still, I now look forward to arguments that cars shouldn’t be licensed, regulated or insured.

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