Howard Bashinski: Moving it forward
April 5, 2013
The Steamboat Today has published a long line of letters addressing different opinions on gun regulation. Thank you! Although many argue the issue from a constitutional perspective, I think the reality is that this approach just lends an air of legitimacy to a desire to have things a certain way — either some or no regulations on gun ownership. In addition, because the Constitution is not perfectly clear on the issue (the fact that there is any debate means it is unclear), individuals have forwarded a number of unique and interesting arguments supporting both positions. I think the bottom line, however, is that one group wants unlimited access to guns, and the other doesn't think this is a good idea. If the authors of the Second Amendment appeared in the present and indicated their precise intention, I honestly think that the "losers" would argue with them.
The continuing name calling, negative innuendo and downright slander around this issue is an example of what I call "being a part of the problem." It is extremely easy to do and equally useless in terms of moving a discussion/debate forward. If everyone simply continues to argue the same position, we can't make any progress. The ability to compromise is one of the things that defines a civilization and separates us from our savage earliest ancestors.
Personally, I prefer to spend as much time as possible in solutions. To be sure, we have to do what is necessary to define the problem, but if we don't then move to working on solutions, we simply are running in place. Here's a proposed solution to the current disagreement.
We define a wide range of guns that will not be regulated at all, except for background checks. We can debate what these will be, but I would include certain shotguns, hunting rifles, small-caliber handguns and other such firearms. Assault weapons, extra-large magazines and large-caliber handguns would not be included.
We already have a process for licensing a person to carry a concealed weapon. I propose to extend that idea to license individuals for weapons and equipment not included on the nonregulated list. Again, we can debate the details about how this would work, but it should be the case that anyone who appears reasonably qualified and in "good standing" can purchase any kind of weapon.
Finally, I think that one of the requirements for owning weapons not on the nonregulated list is that they be kept in an approved gun safe or trigger-locked in a way that is difficult to defeat. Moreover, if someone other than the legal owner of a gun commits a crime with it, the legal owner should be held partially responsible, except in the case of theft.
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Now, these proposals are far from perfect, and there is a lot of room for debate. However, they are a starting point for moving us from the problem to an ultimate solution. Again, debating solutions moves us forward, whereas choosing to stay in the problem gets us nowhere. We can elect a government that sways one way and then another government that sways another. Let's work on a solution so we can turn our attention to one of the thousands of issues that are far more important than this one.