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Rob Freda

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Solving gun violence in the US in today's insane political climate requires a solution that makes it painless for everyone.

First that this idea even needs to be broached in the first place is ridiculous especially given the lack of clarity in the second amendment (eg it does not specify types of arms so that should be handled by laws not as a "do what you will free for all").

That said it seems there are some major elements that would be necessary to reduce gun deaths in the US and there are some obfuscating interests embodied in the NRA that must be sidestepped or accommodated in the solution.

Four main areas of focus jump out to reduce gun deaths:

1) "mass killings" (included in this would be the 2 or 3 person shootings as well as as Newtown or Aurora types)
2) Accidental shootings
3) Non-owner shootings (eg the shooter is not the owner of the gun)
4) "black market" trading

Added to these I would say the parameter that makes gun control legislation difficult is gun manufacturer revenue stream protection using the second amendment as a shill.

So what are the necessary parameters to make something happen vs. the absurdity of what is going to happen over the next few months in Washington:

1) Figure out a way that shifting policy creates more revenue for gun manufacturers so they get the NRA on board
2) Make sure that guns cannot be used in public places or by someone other than their owner

The Idea - Mandatory gun locks and universal kill switches.

On locks, all responsible gun owners have gun safes. Why not move the lock to the gun's trigger mechanism either with a combination code or biometric locks. That would prevent unauthorized use of the gun by anyone but the owner.

On kill switches, in the same locking mechanism put a chip and actuator that freezes the locking mechanism mentioned above when it receives a certain modulated radio signal.

If mandatory then all existing guns will have to be refitted with the new bolt mechanism creating revenue streams for the gun manufacturers and on all new guns they can charge more creating more revenue.

Thoughts?

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  • Feb 6 2013: You ask "what are the necessary parameters to make something happen", first I believe that everyone needs to understand that many "normal" Americans want to own guns; gun ownership is not the exclusive province of "gun nuts". Similarly everyone needs to understand that the misuse of guns, just like alcohol or cars, has serious repercussions.

    No one wants to have restrictions placed on the things they want. Highways could be made safer if cars were equipped with a device that made them inoperable if someone who had been drinking got into the drivers seat. Similarly if they were equipped with speed restricting devices that prevented them from exceeding the speed limit highway fatalities might be reduced.

    Of course few people want such restrictions on their cars. Why would one assume that a gun owner would welcome restrictions on guns any more than people who love fast cars would want restrictions?

    The argument generally degrades into a claim that cars are different than guns. That may be true, but it is usually perceived as "what I want is more important than what you want" which is never an argument likely to win converts.

    The question then becomes how do we get people to focus on safety and elimination of violence without attacking either the desires of the owners of the objects (be they guns or cars) or the inherent merit of the objects (guns are bad while cars are good). We need to get everyone to agree that we all want every object to be as safe as possible, be it a car or a gun.

    I believe we should all be able to agree that those who abuse the objects, such as habitual drunk drivers or violent felons should loose their rights to operate or possess the object, be it a car or gun. Further we need to insure that those unqualified should not be allowed to use those objects. When we as a society fail to achieve these two things but rather focus on the objects I believe we are loosing sight of the big picture.
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      Feb 6 2013: How about we apply the same level of training required to have a car license to a gun license. You need to attend a safe gun use course and pass a test at the end. Your gun must be registered and insured and put in for inspection once a year when you renew your registration Any gun on which the registration lapses will be destroyed unless it is re-inspected by an engineer to certify its safeness at great cost. That's how it works for cars in Australia anyway. Don't see why it shouldn't be like that for guns.
      • Feb 6 2013: Peter, Is it really true in Australia that if your car registration lapses that they come and destroy the car?

        That seems rather severe, but I agree with you that relevant inspections and insurance are appropriate for any object where public health and safety are involved. Of course the inspections and insurance should be commensurate to the risk, not designed to be punitive or a hardship. In the US one generally only needs to register a car if one wants to drive on public roads. If one only wants to drive it on one's own land then registration would not be required (A rancher's truck for example). Inspecting meat destined for human consumption at time of slaughter and before being sold is appropriate; requiring every rancher to have every sheep certified by a vet on a weekly basis would not be. What about if a rancher slaughters an animal for consumption by his family, should government inspection be required? Clearly there are grey areas.

        As for how often guns should be re-inspected for safety, that is an engineering question. I don't know if they really need to be re-inspected every year or not. I also do not know what qualifications one would require of the inspectors; perhaps inspection is such that it could be performed by the gun owner himself.

        Then there is the fact that different countries take a much different approach to regulations. In the US for example in most places one could buy a sailboat and sail it around the world without ever taking a class, having it inspected or obtaining a license. In South Africa I understand that one must take a class, be certified and have the vessel inspected before even taking it out for an afternoon.

        Perhaps a "one size fits all" approach is inappropriate when it comes to laws and regulations in various countries. It is not that some laws are better than others, it is just that in a free society each country is free to determine for itself what their laws will be.
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          Feb 6 2013: They don't actually come and get your car but if you can't get it to pass the engineers inspection it is unregisterable for use on public roads so no longer any use to most people as it's ID number is cancelled
          On the yearly inspection for guns, this is probably not necessary from an enigineering standpoint but it's a good way to make sure people keep track of their weapons and report them stolen etc. I've heard there is a large number of guns in the US that are unaccounted for
    • Feb 6 2013: Point is no one should get everything they want. Running our society like that in the last few decades has led to some very negative effects. One could almost say that the current entrenching in these unmovable positions is on the verge of societal narcissistic disorder. Only guns of all the products we produce are specifically exempt from safety standards and the industry is insulated by law from responsibility for how their product is used. That is strictly about profit and risk and has nothing to do with rights. The same behavior is displayed by the major banks with regard to complex products regardless of the damage they cause to the society. First step should be to separate or sidestep the business issues so that this can be dealt with on a reasonable playing field. To your point all gun owners are not wingnuts, so one has to ask where is the middle ground? Having a free for all is not a middle ground.

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