By Jim Leverington
Once again, a national tragedy has been turned into a political football. The right says that if there were more people with guns the Sandy Hook school shooting never would have happened, and the left says that if only we banned all guns this would never have happened. Both positions are
unrealistic and both sides know it.
In the end, a few ineffective laws will be passed, everybody will pat themselves on the back, and things will return to normal until the next time.
If all these deaths had been the result of a plane crash, there would be extensive investigation with the goal of the eliminating the root cause.
An analysis of this shooting would probably show two root causes. The first is that an individual who shouldn’t have access to guns gained access. The second is that the weapons had no restrictions on the volume of fire. Both of these issues can be addressed.
In most gun massacre cases, the perpetrators used semi-automatic guns with quick-change magazines. By putting out an almost continual rate of fire, the weapons eliminate the chance for victims to run away or overpower the shooter.
Many people argue that we need to reduce the size of the magazines. That would do little to minimize the deaths because the clips can be changed in seconds. There is also a plan to ban “assault rifles.” This also would be ineffective because there is no way to ban a gun based on what it looks like without addressing its basic functionality.
One solution would be a ban on guns with replaceable magazines. If an auto loader was limited to six rounds in a non-removable magazine and had to be reloaded one bullet at a time, many more people would survive.
The hunters shouldn’t be concerned with a ban of this type because they rarely need to shoot more than twice to bring their game down. Also, people who use a gun for self-defense rarely get into a long gunbattle with an assailant. All the basic functionality that gun enthusiasts claim they need in a weapon would remain.
I would not propose confiscating the existing weapons that violate the ban. Instead, I propose that owners of all non-compliant weapons must register their weapons within a year after the ban is approved. All non-registered weapons discovered after the registration period would be automatically confiscated and destroyed. There also could be a nominal fee paid to people who surrendered their weapons during the registration period.
The purpose of the registration requirement would be to get and keep these types of guns out of dangerous hands as soon as possible. Another advantage of this tactic is that legal owners would guard their non-compliant guns much more carefully since they can’t be replaced if they are “lost” or “stolen.”
I also propose that all auto-feed guns must be stored in a steel safe while not in use and that there be a federal law against leaving a gun in an unsecure location that allows easy access.
These proposals can be effective as laws. Little known is that there are more than 250,000 machine guns legally owned by private U.S. citizens, according to U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The owners of these guns have to pass a thorough background check and they know the importance of securing these irreplaceable weapons from criminals. As a result, even though the machine guns are even more lethal than assault rifles, it is exceedingly rare to find a legal machine gun used in a criminal act.
My proposals are not perfect. People will still die in gun violence, but the reality is that perfect is the enemy of good. These changes could save a lot of innocent lives.
Jim Leverington, an engineer from Waterloo, is a gun owner whose hobby is military and weapons history. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org