Karl Groves

Tech Accessibility Consultant
  • Web
  • Mobile
  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Policy
Telephone
+1 443.875.7343
Email
karl@tenon.io
Twitter
@karlgroves

Common Sense Gun Control

I’ve posted on this topic before. Naturally, in the wake of yet another mass shooting in America, it is on my mind again.

As of right now there have been 290 school shootings in the United States since 2013. No other country has more than 18 mass shooters. This is horrible and it keeps happening.

The New York Times article linked above makes a clear case: More guns means more gun-related violence. It seems too obvious to even mention and the solution is also obvious: there needs to be less guns out there. We need to make it harder for bad actors to get guns and make it extremely difficult for them to commit crime with guns. Gun Rights activists are right: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But this statement is incorrect: guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people. A firearm’s primary purpose is to kill living things. This is why bad guys choose them.

We have to do something, but we have to be pragmatic

The idea of completely banning firearms sounds appealing to most liberals, but it is a complete non-starter in the United States. The Gun Rights activists need to also acknowledge that easy access to firearms is the largest contributor to gun violence. We make it too easy to get guns and some of the guns people can get are far too deadly. I feel we can balance the right to bare arms with the safety of our neighbors.

My proposals to limit gun violence

Generally, the goal must be to make it harder for bad guys to get guns & ammunition while retaining the ability for good people to have fair access to sporting and protection uses of firearms.

"Shall Issue" Concealed Carry Permits, with nationwide reciprocity

Gun Rights advocates argue that only bad guys kill people and that gun control efforts stop good people from carrying guns. They’re right. We should not stop good people from carrying guns.

Yes, that’s what I said. A person applying for a concealed carry permit shall receive it without unfair restrictions, provided they meet all of the following criteria:

  1. They have a legitimate need fitting one the following criteria:
    1. They have an active restraining order against another person
      1. In some states, there is an initial period when a restraining order is automatically granted before a hearing to determine if the need is valid. There shall be "Emergency Issuance" of permits during that period and the permit should be rescinded if/ when the restraining order ends.
    2. They have an occupational need to have one (that warrants carrying the weapon outside of work as well)
    3. They are a current, former, or retired Law Enforcement Officer
    4. They have another legitimately defined good and substantial reason to​ protect themselves
  2. They have not been convicted of a felony of any kind
  3. They have not been convicted of misdemeanor drug distribution, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, harassment,
    or any crime involving the use of a firearm.
  4. They have attended and passed a rigorous firearm safety training course which includes range qualifications
  5. They have visual acuity of 20/20 or wear glasses or contacts that correct their vision to 20/20
  6. They are not currently diagnosed with and under treatment for a delusional disorder, major depressive disorder, psychotic disorder, or dissociative disorder, the definitions of which are found in the DSM

Note: Some states (such as my home state of Maryland) have abused the "good and substantial reason​" requirement as a way to prevent people from carrying. Stories abound about people with legitimate cause being rejected. This practice should stop.

In the event that any of the above criteria changes, the permit is revoked. It can be reissued only when the above criteria are met.

Limitations on types of firearms and accessories

There’s a reality that Gun Rights advocates need to acknowledge: There’s no legitimate sporting or protection need for rapid fire capabilities or high capacity magazines. Those features exist for one reason: killing people. If you have no plan to kill people, you don’t need that stuff. There is no known instance where a person used an assault weapon with a bumpstock and 30-round magazine to protect themselves.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004 was the right idea with the wrong approach, as it focused more on cosmetics than characteristics. There is also an important distinction between an "assault weapon" and an "assault rifle" – the latter of which have all of the characteristics that should be banned.

  1. Assault Rifles should be banned from sale
  2. Firearms should have no more than 10 round capacity
  3. Magazines with more than 10 round capacity should be banned from sale
  4. Accessories that increase the rate of fire, such as trigger modification devices or bump stocks should be banned from sale
  5. "Novelty" marketing of the above shall be banned
  6. All firearms must be sold with a trigger lock
  7. Persons who own more than 3 long guns or more than 5 firearms total must provide proof that they own a gun safe/ lockable gun cabinet

Limitations on Firearm Purchase

As before, our goal should not be to prevent good, law-abiding citizens from owning guns. Any person over the age of 18 (21 in the case of handgun) may purchase a firearm if:

  1. They have not been convicted of a felony
  2. They have not been convicted of misdemeanor drug distribution, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, harassment,
    or any crime involving the use of a firearm.
  3. They have visual acuity of 20/20 or wear glasses or contacts that correct their vision to 20/20
  4. They are not currently diagnosed with and under treatment for a delusional disorder, major depressive disorder, psychotic disorder, or dissociative disorder, the definitions of which are found in the DSM

All firearm purchases must be handled through a licensed firearm dealer or overseen by local law enforcement and must be subject to a Universal Background Check to verify the above criteria.

Limitations on ammunition

Possession of a firearm is only part of the problem. Possession and easy access to ammunition is also a problem. Mass shooters often stockpile and bring large quantities of ammunition with them. Law-abiding citizens should be able to purchase ammunition that meets their legitimate needs.

  1. Ownership of armor piercing ammunition shall be banned.
  2. All ammunition purchases must adhere to the same limitations on firearm purchase, described above.
  3. Gun owners can reload their own ammunition for personal use but are barred from selling or transferring it to others.
  4. Gun owners shall not have any more than 100 rounds of ammunition in their possession for long guns and no more than 50 rounds of ammunition for handguns. These amounts are more than generous for legitimate sporting and self-defense needs.
  5. Gun owners shall not purchase ammunition on behalf of others. Purchasing ammunition shall require the purchaser to provide ID.

Requirements for storage and transport of firearms and ammunition

Gun Rights Advocates argue that bad guys aren’t legal gun owners buying from the local gun shop. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics: "According to the 1991 Survey of State Prison Inmates, among those inmates who possessed a handgun, 9% had acquired it through theft, and 28% had acquired it through an illegal market such as a drug dealer or fence. Of all inmates, 10% had stolen at least one gun, and 11% had sold or traded stolen guns." To me, this means we need to make it harder to steal guns and harder to use them once stolen.

  1. All firearms must be stored with their trigger locks engaged when not in use
  2. All ammunition must be stored in a locked container of some kind when not in use.
  3. All magazines must be empty when not in use
  4. Firearms and ammunition must be kept at least 6 ft apart during transport unless they are physically separated from all humans, such as within a vehicle’s trunk.
  5. Trigger locks must be engaged during transport

The only exception to the above criteria is for persons with concealed carry permits.

Punishment for non-compliance with the above

With the primary goal of making it extremely difficult for bad guys to get guns and ammunition, we need to strongly enforce the above restrictions and punish those who do not comply. This should include significant fines or even criminal charges, especially against those whose negligence results in their stolen firearm being used in a crime.

Gun control must not be the only thing we do

Gun Rights advocates often argue that other weapons could be used instead of guns or that you can’t stop a determined bad guy, or that mass shooters are "crazy". All of these things are true, but they don’t preclude sensible gun control. Doing nothing is the best way to guarantee that the problem we face will persist.

Gun control also isn’t enough. If we’re willing to accept that mass shootings are perpetrated by people who are "disturbed" then we need to not only limit their access to firearms but also provide services to help them. If we’re willing to accept that bad guys are going to commit crimes no matter what, then we need to improve crime prevention efforts. That includes, taking action to improve the socioeconomic contributors to crime.