A Modest Proposal

Something HAS to be done, but what? A modest, pragmatic proposal for gun control. 

by: Frederick Foote

The position is inarguable, guns are a public health menace. From 2012 to 2015 there were close 33,000 gun-related deaths per year in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths were suicides of which about eighty-five percent of the victims were white males. Half of these deaths were men over the age of forty-five. About 12,000 of these gun-related deaths were homicides of which about half were men between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four and two-thirds of these victims were black. About 1,700 women are killed by gun violence each year. The other gun-related deaths were accidental or unknown causes. This is about 10.6 deaths per 100,000 people. This is higher than the gun death rate of Mexico, Canada, Russia or any European Union nation. The United States’ gun problem is real and urgent.

I have a few ideas I want to share concerning what we can do about the gun violence that permeates and infects the life of every American. Each day it creeps closer to home. Considering what is currently unfolding within the United States, I believe the following list to be modest proposals to address a dire concern:

  • Gun ownership should not be a Constitutional right.
  • Gun ownership should be a privilege like operating a motor vehicle. A national license should be required for gun ownership with a gun competency and safety test required for licensure.
  • Gun owners should be required to register each gun in their possession and promptly report all loss, sales, or transfers of firearms.
  • There should be a national public database listing all gun owners and the weapons they own, and any criminals convicted of gun-based violence (and civil complaints against them and the and the disposition of these complaints).
  • Guns also should be taxed to help offset the public cost of gun injuries and deaths and support research in gun violence.
  • Like cigarettes, guns should come with a warning label and vivid colors or other symbols to warn of their dangerous nature.
  • Law enforcement officers should have the power to confiscate guns if there is a likely possibility (a fifty/fifty or higher probability) that a gun will be used to harm the owner or others, or the gun is improperly stored or displayed.
  • The burden of proof should be on the gun owner to reclaim his or her weapon.
  • Gun manufacturers, sellers, and owners should suffer civil and criminal liability for misuse of their products or property.

These attitude changes, laws, rules, and procedures could reduce the number of gun manufacturers selling guns in the United States, reduce the number of firearms sold, reduce the number of gun owners and guns in the country. They would also alert the public to the presence of dangerous weapons in their communities. Licensure would ensure gun owners have some degree of awareness of the dangers and responsibilities of gun ownership.

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