At our home, the lights of the Christmas tree sparkle in the family room. Presents have begun to gather beneath its branches. The scent of holiday candles fills the room. Outside where the lights are strung from the eaves and wrapped around the railing of the front porch, it has chosen to snow today. A neighbor and her children, ages 5 and 6, or so, have built a snowman. I can see them from the window of my home office as I type this. Most Christmases are times of joy in our home. These last few days I can only think what it must be like to spend this season burying a child.

When I was ten there was another Christmas. The gifts that year included a bolt action .22 rifle. That wasn’t unusual for a boy in rural Wisconsin. You learn to shoot early in the country. With high school came five varsity letters. One was as a member of the state championship rifle team. Not the state “high school” championship, the state open championship. It was sponsored by the NRA. I was a proud member. Through the years came hunting trips, higher caliber rifles, two 12 gauge shotguns, one for hunting, the other for trap shooting, and a .357 handgun.

Hunting is no longer part of my life. I gave it up many years ago. Then, when I noticed that I hadn’t been trap shooting in years I sold the last of the long guns, the 12 gauge trap gun, at a yard sale. That’s right, private sale in the driveway to the first guy with 50 bucks. That was a perfectly legal transaction if anyone’s interested. But, it probably shouldn’t be perfectly legal if you’d like my honest opinion.

Following the Tucson shooting my lifelong pro-gun position began to crumble. What had once been reasons started to sound and feel more like rationalizing. The excuses were getting thinner and thinner. “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” No. That was wrong and deceptive. It should be “Guns don’t kill people; guns in the hands of people kill people.” It’s not easy to change a lifelong belief. And, it isn’t made any easier when doing it lands you in the company of some (not all) gun control proponents who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

Living in Arizona for five years was a position changing experience. Not just the shooting in Tucson, but living with gun nuts on a daily basis. The first time I saw a guy in a grocery store with a gun in an open holster, the thought going through my head was “if anyone is emotionally unfit to carry a firearm, it’s probably the kind of guy who would do it in an upscale grocery store.” No one would stand in the same line with him. We all knew the odds were clearly on the side of him being less than fully stable. I’m sure he thought he was quite the stud.

That was a shock, but it went from bizarre to scary when I first saw multiple men carrying guns in open holsters at a bar. You kidding me? Guns and alcohol? Didn’t someone once say that with freedom comes responsibility? Damn, these guys must have small d**ks. Open carry my ass, Sally; that’s just plain stupid and dangerous. So, as uninformed as some of the gun control proponents may be, the gun rights crowd isn’t exactly bursting their hat bands with brain power either.

So what are we going to do about this? What are we going to do to keep our children and grandchildren from being buried, dead with gunshot wounds, the week before Christmas. What are we going to do to make it safe to meet constituents outside a grocery store or go shopping at a mall or go to a movie or walk down the street?

One thing we shouldn’t do is reintroduce or pass the mis-named “Assault Weapons Ban.” Oh, you can pass it if you want I suppose. If it makes you feel good, Ok. But, it won’t do much good. Studies from the 10 years it was in effect agree that there is no discernible good that came of it. Some studies try to be kind and say there wasn’t enough time to assess its effectiveness. The Brady coalition makes a weak argument that it did something. But, if you look at the timeline charts, it’s pretty clear that there was no significant difference before, during, and after.

Besides it’s borderline dishonest. It doesn’t ban assault rifles. Those are military weapons that are either capable of automatic fire or bursts of automatic fire. The “Assault Weapons Ban” bans guns that “look like” assault rifles but operate like sporting rifles, i.e. semi-automatic.

The “Assault Weapons Ban” also gave Americans the false impression that it was banning mega clips that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. But, as Diane Feinstein admitted in an interview just days ago, her new “Assault Weapons Ban”, like the old one in effect from 1994 to 2004, is [her words] “prospective only.” That means it only bans new mega clips; it doesn’t outlaw the old ones. Well, last I heard there were about 24,000,000 of the old ones in private hands.

If the goal is to make gun control proponents feel good, the “Assault Weapons Ban” may be capable of passage at this point. If, on the other hand, the goal is to really do something about gun violence, the “Assault Weapons Ban” as currently constituted is remarkably weak tea. My opinion.

So, what can be done that really addresses the problem? Keeping in mind that there are an estimated 270,000,000 (that’s 270 million) firearms in private hands in the United States and that the current U. S. Supreme Court strongly supports the Second Amendment as a personal right [as opposed to a militia related right], here are a few suggestions. These are not easy and they don’t have cute misleading names, but they just might make a difference over time.

1. Form a viable and credible organization to take on the NRA. That requires money, leadership, commitment and a willingness to play the power game. My suggestion would be an organization whose primary goal is repeal of the Second Amendment. This serves two purposes. Confronted with such opposition, it could be possible to derive certain concessions from the pro-gunners as they try to avoid giving impetus to a repeal movement (i.e. threaten them right at their core). The second purpose is that the Second Amendment might actually be repealed some day, giving rise to real gun control reform.

2. Pressure the White House and Senators to nominate and confirm judges who recognize that Second Amendment rights are not absolute and that reasonable restrictions apply to the Second Amendment just as they do to the First Amendment and the right of privacy. The current Supreme Court gives lip service to this concept in McDonald, but they have yet to prove they mean it.

3. Engage in tangential attacks, rather than direct attacks on guns. “Arms” are constitutionally protected. Body armor for example, reportedly used in both Portland and Newtown, is not. How about outlawing the civilian use of targets that depict a human form?

4. Make guns uncool. This won’t be easy or fast. It was done with cigarettes and it has been done with drinking and driving. It is possible with guns, though long term.

5. Make guns wildly expensive through the taxing power. At the same time that new guns are made wildly expensive, start a “buy-back” program to purchase some of the cache of existing firearms. Pay too much if you have to, but get as many out of circulation as possible. As folks sell existing guns, which are then destroyed, and new guns carry exorbitant price tags, the net number in circulation declines.

6. Require registration and liability insurance for legal ownership. The key to this one is the liability insurance requirement and the additional cost impediment that it adds.

7. Speaking of liability, manufacturer liability needs to be reinstated. Gun manufacturers are currently shielded from most liability if one of their products is used to kill or maim. This would have to be tightly written to be Constitutional. But, anything that will scare religion into them will do. Gun dealers need to fear liability as well.

8. Close the gun show loophole that exempts gun show sales from background checks. And, while you’re at it, close the private sale loophole too. The technology exists if the will does.

9. Outlaw clips that hold more than 10 rounds. Not “prospective only”. Outlaw ‘em all, and give folks a six month moratorium to turn in the ones they have. Yeah, I know, “They’re coming to take our guns/clips”, right? But, if you’re serious, you have to have the courage to own that concept instead of being intimidated by it.

Well, there are a few ideas. Have at it in the comments section. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

ELIJAH SWEETE
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The_Ohioan
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The_Ohioan
3 years 9 months ago

Your suggestions sound perfectly reasonable and well thought out to me. It’s certainly a place to start.

This would be a first amendment problem, also, but maybe restricting the entertainment industry from showing violence without showing the results of that violence would be a deterrent. Like the news industry, we are shielded from the gore that results in TV and movie violence. Maybe that would only exacerbate the problem, but at least we would move news and entertainment from glorifying violence to being more realistic. I can’t see how first amendment rights would be violated by more reality.

We still haven’t heard Clint or Sylvester, or any movie or video producer make a statement about their part in promoting violence and a resolve to temper their product. Which leads us to the real problem; the movie, TV, and video people make huge amounts of money by catering to the egos of people who are addicted to their products. And they aren’t about to give it up any more than the NRA is about to give up their income from the arms industry. Oh, they’ll issue a statement (they already have) then they’ll slither back out of the light as soon as they can and it will be business a usual.

I’d bet if you talked to thpse gun-toters in the Arizona bar (if you were so foolish as to do so) their hero would be Clint and their children are constant users of violent video game – which trying to outlaw has hit the fan for years.

Just sayin’.

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
Member

Great post and many interesting and good “hows.”

I look forward to reading reactions here,but, more important, to seeing your many excellent suggestions discussed in earnest in the coming months by our lawmakers and various influential groups.

ordinarysparrow
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ordinarysparrow
3 years 9 months ago

Thanks Elijah Tidbits… this is sharp with many good suggestions…

In truth after reading this, i pasted, copied the text, and included the TMV link in a letter to my Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, my Senator Claire McCaskill, and even sent it in a letter to President Obama… I asked them to read it and add these suggestions to HOW we can keep our children safe.
President said everything is on the table, now your suggestions are on the table too.
I also copied the information about you that is found on TMV. Maybe someone will listen… I will continue to think who i can send this to, for i truly feel you have expressed some important HOW’s…

Many thanks…

dduck
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dduck
3 years 9 months ago

Terrific suggestion, ES. I like scaring them with the big club while kicking them in their constitutional filberts.

It will take a long time but the start with small bills, has to be now when this tragedy is fresh in our minds.

Even if only a few kid’s lives are saved then it is worth the effort despite the claim that the 1994 law “had no positive effect”, which no one can prove except by those dammed statistics.

Barky
Guest
3 years 9 months ago

Repeal of the 2nd Amendment is wrong. The right answer is a rewrite to modernize it. “Militias” are wholly irrelevant, and just the bad grammar alone is enough to rewrite. Then we can have something that fits modern times and specifically defines what gun rights the populace should have that we (through our elected representatives) want.

I maintain that, like just about everything else, there is a level of responsible ownership and a level where it’s just ridiculous. The fundamental need for a 2nd Amendment is valid, but there’s a logical limit, too.

dduck
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dduck
3 years 9 months ago

Ok, kick them in the macadamias instead.

sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 9 months ago

Excellent suggestions Elijah. Thanks also to OS.! Gets me thinking….perhaps we can all send copies to our congressmen and senators. Just inundate them with REASONABLE solutions and maybe some of them will listen.
I know I will here in Nebraska..especially since they announced tonight that 117 guns were sold in Omaha yesterday. ( only 7 permits declined) That’s 3x the usual amount on any given day they said.! Gun heads are stocking up in lieu of the new gun laws that may be coming down the road.

sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 9 months ago

Ooops…correction. Meant to say thats 3x the amount sold in any given month.

sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 9 months ago

Thanks Elijah, saw your response on Dorians asrticle.
Yes, I was hoping to find some avenue of attack as you surmised, but it looks like because they train and “educate” , they are considered non-profit…even though they make money doing it. So does the IACP and they are also non-profit.
But I read somewhere in my hectic research that “they never applied for a 501 with the federal govt… whatever that is. Don’t know if that means anything or not, but will continue to explore deeper.
Pretty obvious I am trying to find some way to make their actions “shady” as an organization huh….

sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 9 months ago

According to Wikipedia, there are about a bizzillion 501cs for tax exempt status you must file with the IRS. You being an attorney would be able to better understand the implications of that. However, I will try to get more information about what source discovered that bit of information.

sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 9 months ago

Yes, I thought of your point #1 when I was searching for like organizations and existing anti gun ones when I found the IACP.

The NRA is different from others because they have powerful backers with lots of money who already control our elected officials.

My approach in an earlier post was to notify our officials who have received campaign contributions ( there are SO many) from the NRA and let them know if they continue, they can do without my vote. An organization to c oordinate a massive effort to threaten our NRA money taking legislators might hit them where it hurts.

ShannonLeee
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ShannonLeee
3 years 9 months ago

just want to say… great post ES.

SteveK
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SteveK
3 years 9 months ago

just want to agree with the others, this IS a great post. Tidbits list of possibilities was well reasoned and thought through.

The discussions in comments section regarding the probability / possibility issues were all both civil and well reasoned.

In truth after reading this, i pasted, copied the text, and included the TMV link in a letter to my Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, my Senator Claire McCaskill, and even sent it in a letter to President Obama… I asked them to read it and add these suggestions to HOW we can keep our children safe.

Good for you ordinarysparrow… following suit I have done the same. Great idea, thanks.

ordinarysparrow
Guest
ordinarysparrow
3 years 9 months ago

I also sent it to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and the Democratic Leadership committee… There is not much written about the HOW that is not the OLD and Failed so hopefully this will end up on someone’s table for consideration…

Thanks again, Tidbits…

dduck
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dduck
3 years 9 months ago

OS, how about writing to the Rep leaders also

EEllis
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EEllis
3 years 9 months ago

I tell you what tho I disagree about some things it’s nice to see gun control being approached in an open and honest way. Couple of comments:

2 It seems to be since the right to bear arms shall not be abridged the fact that there are as many restrictions as there are shows that the courts recognize that the 2nd is not absolute.

3 I guess I have a hard time justifying the restriction on body armor. Sure it might make bad guys harder to take down and I have zero problem with jacking up the sentence on anyone using armor in any illegal act but preventing people from protecting themselves? What of those that have been threatened or victimized? Press or medics? Private Security or process servers?

4 Registration of firearms has already been ruled a violation of the 15th and insurance, well can you be made to buy insurance to be able to exercise a right?

8 There is no gun show loophole. There are no exceptions to any rules just because a gun show is involved. What there are is private sales at gun shows where you could of taken your shotgun walked in and found someone there to buy it instead of selling it in your driveway. Call it a private sale loophole if you wish even tho it is inaccurate, but the whole gunshow thing is inaccurate and more about propaganda than anything else. Not necessarily from you but from those that used and pushed the phrase that has now created a incorrect meaning for so many.
9 By doing so you will have created a whole new class of outlaw. Suddenly you would have whatever chunk of the 80 -100 million? people who have such and refuse to giver them up become crooks. If I’m already a crook because I have 12rd mags then why go along with any gun law? How many millions of people do you think will say “hell no” and is there even the slightest possibility of having any effective enforcement of such a ban?

I will say that while I would be against many of the ideas at least it shows some real thought.

EEllis
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EEllis
3 years 9 months ago

Sorry you had to wait. Between internet and phone issues and work it just took me a while :)

dduck
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dduck
3 years 9 months ago

One, quick point, buying the mega-magazines should work. It might take many years of that and a ban to flush them out of the system, but hey it can’t hurt.

EEllis
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EEllis
3 years 9 months ago

Is it too crass to bring a cost benefit questions into the discussion? How far do we go to try and prevent tragedies like this when we have people who die from preventable causes all the time.

EEllis
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EEllis
3 years 9 months ago

Vehicular death and injury, and gun related death and injury, top the list of non disease related sources of death and maiming. They seem logical places to devote our energy. My view only, of course.

I think that bolsters my point. The efforts to restrict weapons and magazines will effect only the smallest percentage of deaths. As horrific and traumatic as these spree killings are they are not even bump the stats when looking at preventable deaths. If we look at gun deaths suicides are well over 50% and magazine capacity is a non issue. If we look at criminal deaths and the difference it might make, if we could be successful in their elimination which I’m less than confident of, does it really make sense? Sure if it can save one child but what if for that same effort we could save several?

EEllis
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EEllis
3 years 9 months ago

I understand what you’re saying. I guess I’m just not really receptive to the argument that gun death isn’t that big a problem, so let’s do something else instead? Yes, I know that’s hyperbole, and it’s not meant to insult your position.

No my point was that the current cries for change seem limited to what might make a difference during a spree killing. While this is understandable the number of casualties is actually quite small compared to the other categories of gun related deaths and things like high cap mag bans will do nothing to change that.

dduck
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dduck
3 years 9 months ago

If HCM eventually become rare and even one fewer person gets killed or maimed, would that be a bad thing. A ban on them will mean a loss of revenue for the manufacturers, but who else?
True, game and competition participants will have a loss of pleasure, but I see no other downside, even if it has absolutely NO effect on the death and injury rate.

EEllis
Guest
EEllis
3 years 9 months ago

If HCM eventually become rare and even one fewer person gets killed or maimed, would that be a bad thing. A ban on them will mean a loss of revenue for the manufacturers, but who else?

Why would manufactures lose money? They will keep selling mags regardless and will be receiving at least a temp windfall from any ban. Before the last ban they were running 24/7 to produce as many HCM as possible and there was never any real shortage due to the stockpile of pre ban mags available.

True, game and competition participants will have a loss of pleasure, but I see no other downside, even if it has absolutely NO effect on the death and injury rate.

Does there need to be a bigger negative if there is no positive?

dduck
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dduck
3 years 9 months ago

Does there need to be a bigger negative if there is no positive?
The positive might mean a life saved, that trumps it all.

EEllis
Guest
EEllis
3 years 9 months ago

You just said it didn’t matter if it made any difference. Look you are taking something away from people. You may not like it or think anyone should care but you are deciding that people should be told they can’t do or have something and there should be a good reason. And if saving lives trumped all then we would all be driving 20mph in bumper cars so since we are not it’s bs.

dduck
Guest
dduck
3 years 9 months ago

EE, bye.

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