In my previous posts, I’ve discussed the problem with gun violence in America, and I’ve pointed out that it would be impossible to remove guns from the American population.
Unless something changes, gun violence will continue to be a problem.
Let us add to this problem the current trend toward the Open Carry of guns, the recent episodes of armed bystanders firing upon unarmed and fleeing suspects, and my already stated case that possessing a gun is more likely to result in the escalation of aggression.
These people are in possession of a dangerous device. Most have little or no training in the use of this device. Few have the ability to assess the risk of owning and carrying these devices.
There is a comparable dangerous device that is owned by many Americans. The automobile.
Until 2013 Americans were more likely to die in a car crash than to be killed by a gun. The data are not in when I wrote this, but it has been projected that gun deaths and auto-related deaths were supposed to reach parity sometime in 2015.
There are no laws that restrict owning an automobile. Everyone in America can own as many cars as they can afford. Even if you are not allowed to drive a car, you are still allowed to own one.
But in order to operate a car, we must first demonstrate our knowledge of the law in regards to vehicle operation. We must also demonstrate our ability to operate a car. This is done through licensing. As part of licensing, we must also demonstrate our ability to minimize the risk of driving, and to hedge against loss due to accident. This is done through insurance.
America could apply this strategy to gun ownership and usage. Require licensing and insurance of individuals who carry a gun.
Licensing is already in effect in many states. For example, a concealed carry license in any state requires the possessor to attend training classes and pass a test. Texans who carry a handgun are required to have a License to Carry. Getting one involves training classes and a test.
Using a gun licensing strategy, states would issue licenses to carry, and state license requirements would meet or exceed minimal Federal standards. These standards would include classroom and practical training, along with an examination. I would suggest that there be a renewal requirement, with a period of renewal of every 5 years.
A firearm owner would also be required to demonstrate proof of liability insurance. Lack of insurance would be grounds to suspend or revoke the license to carry.
Insurance is an important part of this idea. In the case of accidental death, or homicide, some relief to the victims could be had through insurance. This would certainly motivate insurance companies to investigate each gun owner’s risk. Insurance companies are really very good at predicting the actions of people. Let us put that skill to use.
Similar to current driver’s laws, licensing would not apply on private property. In the same way that you don’t need a driver’s license to drive on your own ranch roads, unlicensed individuals could still “carry” their weapons lawfully in their own home. (Please note, there are usually city ordinances that make it a crime to shoot gun inside city limits. These are often ignored in the case where a gun is used to stop a crime in the home.)
License to carry laws could be written to allow the safe transportation of firearms by unlicensed gun owners. Inside a locked container, or with a trigger lock, for example.
Requiring a license and insurance to operate – or carry – a firearm does not restrict anyone’s Second Amendment right to own guns, or “bear arms” in the case of a military coup. Everyone would still be allowed to own as many guns and ammunition as they like. And they can be comfortable with the knowledge that they can ignore the law in the case of Federal overreach.
A license to carry and insurance requirements are not going to prevent gun violence. However, they will reduce it, and this requirement would work well together with background checks for gun ownership.
And finally, such a requirement could help answer a philosophical problem. How can I, or anyone, tell the difference between an armed law-abiding person with a gun, and a dangerous criminal with a gun?
The criminal is much less likely to be licensed to carry. And any establishment that checks licenses at the door is less likely to allow entry to such a person.