The Colorado theater shooting spree last night will no doubt get us all buzzing again about the relative merits of changing the laws about guns. I’m not holding my breath on solutions because in my view and as usual neither side has any interest in the facts and the solutions, they simply want to have “their way”. This is unfortunate because 1. We do have major gun problems in the USA and 2. They can’t be be solved by strict gun control legislation because most of the problems are from law breakers not law abiders and Americans historically will not tolerate the kinds of gun control we see in many other countries. More about US History.
The media’s usual approach will be to showcase the two hard core lobby types – the NRA carping about guns not killing people and the gun controllers carping about how we’ve got a shooting gallery out there.
What’s the solution here?
I’d suggest that, as with many problems, we need less rules but more transparency. The right to bear arms is pretty clear in the constitution and even without powerful lobbies many people will fight hard to maintain that right. That’s fine, but they should also be willing to increase the level of transparency in the systems to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
The Gun show loophole problems and the severe lack of better gun purchase restrictions and tracking could be solved in *days* with cheap technologies. Gun advocates need to stop resisting the types of rules that allow law enforcement to track the bad guys and to monitor purchases and distribution of guns. The argument that these tools will eventually be used to deprive the good guys of their guns is weak, as evidenced by about 250 years of strong gun rights in the USA.
Gun control advocates need to back off and stop working to ban guns. This won’t happen – ever – in the USA, and as with a lot of such efforts their work is counterproductive, giving the overzealous NRA lots of meaty anti gun material to “shoot down” in the national debates.
Meanwhile, all of us, and especially gun enthusiasts, have an obligation to stop worrying so much about their rights that have been well-protected for centuries, and start thinking a LOT MORE about how to reduce over 12,000 gun homicides per year in the USA*
* 2007 stats from Wikipedia: 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007. About 17,300 were suicides, about 12,600 homicides.
More recent data from the Government Bureau of … wait for it …. Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms : www.atf.gov/statistics/