I’m an advocate of sane gun control laws. I’m also an advocate of gun ownership.
I grew up in the countryside. The nearest small town was miles away, and the nearest city was almost an hour away. I grew up handling firearms, because it was necessary. Guns were used to protect our livestock from predators, our crops from scavengers, and to obtain food for the winter. A firearm was a tool, a dangerous but absolutely necessary one, for life on the farm.
However, metropolitan areas have do not have this same need. After college and a few years of bouncing around, I settled in a large city. I don’t own a gun anymore, and for my personal protection, I keep a baseball bat and pepper spray. I also practice self defense martial arts.
Resolving these two realities, of necessary firearms vs unnecessary firearms, is essential for realistic gun control. A failure to tailor gun control laws to meet these two scenarios is a failure to understand firearms in the United States.
Regardless of the scenario, if an individual has a history of violence, certain mental illnesses, or crime, owning a gun should be impossible. Appealing this rule should be possible, but difficult.
You cannot take firearms away from the rural areas of this country without causing costly and significant problems for many of the people responsible for providing you with the food on your table. The restrictions on gaining access to firearms in rural areas should be sane, but fairly loose. A background check and a gun owner’s permit (which requires the completion of a gun safety class to obtain) would be sufficient.
In metropolitan areas, the actual need to own a firearm is much lower. There are no predators that threaten you or your livestock. If you want to target shoot, there are shooting ranges. The restrictions on owning a firearm should be high, and require not just a background check, a thorough mental health evaluation, training, and a permit, but also require you to demonstrate a genuine need for a firearm. Additional requirements, such as it being necessary to to regularly renew your permit and registration, or re-train with the weapon every five years, should be considered.
The system I’ve described has flaws. It doesn’t address different types of firearms (eg, the difference between a hunting rifle and an assault rifle), there are no exemptions for historic firearms in urban areas, and it would take time to put into effect.
The benefits of this system would only be seen after years of enforcement and compromises and effort.
But it’s a hell of a lot better than condemning future generations to the same problems we’ve inherited from previous generations.
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