Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Well Regulated Militia

So, I started writing about gun control about two weeks ago; The Thursday before last to be specific. I was going to talk about reasonable gun control. I was going to talk about mental healthcare. I was going to talk about the whole idea of gun ownership for defense, the statistical risks and all of that. 

I'm not going to do that now. After this most recent shooting, I've been talking to a lot of people. I've been discussing all of those issues at length, and now I'm going to step outside of my comfort zone. This is not going to be a philosophical exercise. It's not going to be ethics and stats and all the stuff I've been doing on this blog. This is a rough draft for legislation. An actual, honest to god, concrete idea. I need help with it though. I'm not a gun owner, nor a particular fan. There will almost certainly be some logistical, logical, and technical mistakes and flaws. Help me fix it, help me make it better. By god, let's do this thing.

So I'm a Merchant Mariner. Technically I am way way way way way Naval reserve. If thing got apocalyptically bad, I could get called up, most likely for supply duty. I only bring this up because it's the general basis for the idea. You see, to be a merchant mariner you have to get licensed by the coast guard. I'm not in the coast guard, but they license me. There is an entire rating structure that everyone who works commercially on boats is required to be a part of. You start out with your Merchant Mariners Document, which basically says "I can pass a drug test, a federal background check, a basic physical, and I like boats." From there it moves up. There are different directions you can go in your ratings. There are classes on basically everything you can think of in terms of the boating world, and different ratings require different combinations of classes, along with practical real world sea time. It's kind of complicated, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

I'm thinking we can do something similar with guns. Let me be clear here, I am in no way trying to ban guns. I am talking about limiting access to guns to people who lack training in safety and proper use of guns. I'm also talking about keeping better track of guns in this country, and adding layers of responsibility to gun ownership, particularly guns that are more dangerous due to capability, capacity, or ability to be concealed.

So now we get into the meat of it. Please help me with this, because this is all hypothetical to me. There is a lot that I don't know, and my theories on a lot of this may be off base. Help me make it better.

The way I figure it, you start at 12 being allowed to use a .22 rifle or a shotgun after completing a thorough safety course. At 12, you are required to have a parent with you whenever you are shooting. You are basically on their license, like a learners permit. At 16, after enough logged experience, another round of safety classes and exams, you get the option of using the .22 pistol and being able to shoot without an adult. At 18 the other stuff opens up.

the handgun tier would revolve specifically around using it for self defense. actual, practical training with regular refreshers on how to use a gun in defense. CCW will obviously be an endorsement in this tier.

the hunting tier, I don't entirely know. I imagine moving up to more and more powerful calibers. again, every five years needing to take a safety refresher.

the combat stuff.... I'm not a big fan of them in all reality but i think it's a compromise point. the second amendment talks about the well regulated militia, and I see this heading in that direction. tactical training, more powerful guns, three round bursts. regular training. with this stuff comes more thorough refreshers, psych evaluations, and a much higher expectation of training.

My big problem is that I don't know exactly how to set up the structure of those tiers. What I'm really asking for on that front, assuming you don't find the entire concept completely unpalatable, is what exactly are the skill sets that one learns as one becomes a better shooter, and how do we measure those skills.

Inherent in all of this is also a national registry. I don't think its unreasonable that the government should be able to know who has a gun, what kind of gun, and how well trained they are. If you want to fall back to the whole "we are all in the militia" argument with the second amendment, this would be critical information should the militia ever need to be called up to action.

Another critical piece to this, to prevent accidents and lessen theft, all guns should come with a trigger lock, and a good gun safe should be required. Now, it is my understanding that the trigger locks are cheap and fairly effective, but good gun safes are very expensive. I've also been told that cheap gun safes are pretty much worthless. So, to facilitate the gun safe issue, they should be subsidized. It is your right to have a gun, but in the interest of public safety, we demand that it be stored safely. To that end, in the public interest, we will help you pay for it.

Then there is the issue of illegal guns. This one's tough. So, the higher you go in the license structure, the more responsible I think you should be. For everyone, if a gun is stolen there is an investigation. If any negligence on the part of the gun owner is found, penalties start to happen. If you're at the basic level and your gun gets stolen, you lose your license for a year. As you move up, you're dealing with more powerful guns, and we have instilled more trust in you, so fines start getting levied. If after you get your license back, you have another gun stolen, you lose your license for life. (this point i could certainly negotiate on, but I'm trying to avoid people buying guns to give to criminals that can't buy them on their own). If no negligence is found, the first time is a free pass. After that the same process starts up. If a gun registered to you is involved in a crime, and you didn't report it stolen, you have a legal and civil liability, and the level of liability is again tied to your level of training and responsibility. Same goes for someone caught with your gun.

And speaking of that, if you are caught with a gun that is not registered to you while in the commission of a crime, mandatory 20 years; no parole, no plea bargain. If police catch a drug dealer, and he is illegally in possession of a gun, 20 years, no question. If the gun has been somehow modified to make it harder to trace, 40 years. This, admittedly, does nothing about the kinds of mass killings that we have seen lately, bringing the whole discussion back up. It would, however, have some impact on the cartels, gangs, and other organized crime. They are, at the end of the day, business people. Let's make it more difficult for them to do their business by taking their soldiers and dealers off the street in a meaningful way. Couple that with some serious prison reform and we can do some damage.

A quick tangent, running on the whole "dealing with the cartels thing" because that is a whole lot of the gun crime. We need to legalize pot. The writing is on the wall, it's going to happen. Let's do it now, and tax it. More money coming in, money not going to the gangs, and less non violent criminals taking up cells. That makes room for the influx of people who will be locked up for a long time due to gun possession.

We also need to deal with gun sales. First off, every gun sale needs to include a background check and a waiting period. I understand that it's inconvenient, but if you need the gun "right now" you're probably need it for the wrong reason. Also, if a dealer is found to be bypassing that law to sell to a legal, licensed gun owner loses their right to sell guns. A dealer knowingly selling to people who can't legally have a gun goes to jail.

So that's the general outline. It's also worth noting that there is nothing in here about mental healthcare other than the psych evaluations for the more military style training. I absolutely think we need a serious overhaul of the mental healthcare system. That is a separate, related issue, and needs fair, solid treatment done to it as well. I'm already biting off more than I actually can chew here, which is why I need help with it. If someone wants to work on that stuff, go for it.

Now, I'm well aware that there are some problems here, and a lot of room for clarification and details. I'm asking for help here. Let's put aside the bickering, the trolling and the hyperbole and try to actually get something reasonable here. No "the blood is on your hands" or "you're trying to take away all our guns just like Hitler." We can be reasonable people.