The Gun Debate Keeps on Firing
Last night I met up with some friends and the subject of gun control came up. One friend felt that gun control was vital (especially in the US) and the other was flat out against it. I fall somewhere in the middle, as I usually do. They both brought up excellent points and I decided to take a more detailed stab at the debate.
There are a few factors here:
Mental health and culture.
The number of guns in the population already.
The government knowing how many guns you have so they can take them away without notice.
Safety, including the safety of the gun in the home.
Mental Health & Culture
I believe this to be the more important part of the debate. It's very clear there is a culture problem in the US surrounding guns.
Every time there is a mass shooting people take to social media to vent about the world we live in. Many say, “It’s the guns!” Others say it’s mental illness, or that we live in the most peaceful time in history and some violence is going to happen. Then there’s the lack of father figure connection, brain washing through troll social accounts, and on and on the debate goes.
I think it has more to do with culture. I know plenty of gun owners who are responsible and perfectly awesome human beings. Taking personal bias out of the conversation, think about the differences in American vs Canadian vs Swedish cultures.
In a country with some of the lowest education scores, highest single parent homes, highest medical costs, longest work weeks, highest bullying rates, highest incarceration rates, highest opioid and addictive substance consumption rates, highest meth rates, most access to guns without proper courses, most connected, and most polarized by politics is it any wonder that people resort to horrible means in order to express themselves?
I love the US, and call it my part-time home but I believe the culture is a huge part of the problem. Canada is in no way immune to these issues btw, but we just have a better handle on them. It's very easy to buy a gun in Canada through less-than-proper channels. It's also very easy to buy a gun through proper channels. Most of the improper channel purchases in Canada seem to be by collectors though—again, a different culture.
I’ve seen a young man raised with responsible gun training from a loving, full family, who has been given every opportunity his parents could afford, is taught limits/right and wrong, lives in a well adjusted community, and he is easily my favourite kid who I have no doubt will grow up to be an amazing man.
On the mental health front, this topic should be so damn obvious from a humanity standpoint ... but humans can suck. First, anyone that knows they have someone even remotely unstable in their family should be talking about it. This subject can't be taboo. Get that person help! Second, responsible gun sellers need to do their due diligence. Big companies and government have created a huge mental health crisis, and it should be up to them to fix it. Certification of good mental health from a doctor along with the proper course to train them on how to use a gun should be no brainers at this point.
All future sales of guns should be with a registered fingerprint that only a licensed adult can have added to a device at a registered government booth at gun stores. Can't shoot the gun without the finger! This eliminates a lot of the risk to children (who are killed and do kill with guns every year).
Your fingerprint HAS to be on the gun to shoot anyway. This is not an inconvenience and is solely meant to protect the people you don't want having access to your guns. Even the most hillbilly of Southern hillbillies has given his kid shit for trying to play with a gun too young. With this policy, that conversation is gone for good.
Of course, extreme gun owners will say, "Well, now someone's gonna cut off my finger." Really? Let's be rational. This isn't exactly Hollywood. Most couldn't even stomach cutting off a finger and for those that can, that's a lot of trouble to go through.
All the Guns!
There are 393 million guns in the US. That's more guns than people. Policy created this problem so policy should fix it. Granted, this is the hardest part of the debate because of The Constitution but I have some suggestions.
First, a strong exchange program. Bring in your non-fingerprint gun to get the exact same gun with the fingerprint. Second, since you're registered now and have shown yourself to be a responsible citizen then you get tax breaks. I'm not talking bullshit $300 rebates, but rather real federal tax breaks. Third, offer an estate rate. If someone bring in the guns from an estate they are managing that estate would get full value of the guns back. This would help those in need of money to pay down the debt of an estate and gets the old guns off the streets.
The country will save billions on regulations and enforcement so the money can come from there. Plus, we all know the US government wastes a lot of money. Tighten that up and you'll have the means to pay down these programs and then some.
I know this doesn't get 393 million guns converted or off the streets but it is a start. I'm not Houdini. I'm just trying to suggest improvements that help get the US where they need to be.
The Government is Gonna Take My Guns
The big worry my gun toting friend had was that if this program were to go into place most US citizens would say they don't like it because the government would then know exactly how many guns they have and take them away. You've got to be shitting me. 350 million people in the US and you think that's even a remote possibility? Remember when Clinton was gonna take your guns? Obama? Everyone was so sure that they were going to send law enforcement into homes to confiscate all the guns. Did they?
Take your tin foil hat off for just a minute and look at history. No one wants to take your ethical guns. They want you to have ethical guns! It's absolutely ridiculous that this is still a concern after the worry never coming to fruition throughout all of US history. Every election, every bill update, every mass shooting; this is what gun owners point to. Shut the fuck up already! The sky isn't falling. The government could double down here and sign contracts with those who enter the licensing program, saying that as long as they follow the guidelines and don't own any non-fingerprinted guns they'll never have them taken away.
BTW, the government wouldn't need to store your fingerprint. Only the device would. Tech has a solution to this problem. I'm not suggesting wifi or another cloud service to regulate the issue. Device specific IDing.
This all comes down to safety. If guns were licensed like a car, fingerprints were used to fire, mental health was assessed with a clean bill of health from a doctor, and the government stepped up financially there would be less gun deaths in the US. It really is that simple. No, this wouldn't solve all of the problems, but it would start the conversation in a meaningful way.
Look, no one wants their kid to die. No one wants their neighbour's kid to die. Only the shittiest of human beings don't care about the kids. So let's save them. 3,143 kids died in the US from guns in 2018. That's the second highest contributor to death amongst kids after car accidents and before Cancer! That's right, guns kill more kids in the US than the most deadly disease of our time. What in the actual fuck, people? Never mind all the innocent adults that die every year, that stat alone should be enough to wake your ass up.
I don't believe that any politician in the US wants to take the guns. They'd never get re-elected. It sucks to think of things from that perspective but it's true. So let's get a sensible program together and stop pretending like it's not for the betterment of society.