Gun control: What do you want, and why?

Posted by Kromey at 5:33pm Jul 16 '12
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Let's frame this discussion a little bit first: This is intended to be a US-centric, post-Heller and -McDonald discussion, meaning that the Constitution protects the individual right to keep and bear arms, a right interpreted to include firearms for both sport/recreation and personal/home defense. That being said, though, we're going to pretend that each of us has total control of Congress and the President, or rather that we can guarantee that whatever gun control bills we want to pass will be signed into law without amendment.

So, with that in mind, what bills would people want to pass, and why? Intentions are great, but pay heed to what the actual consequences would be. No one has to draft full and complete bills here, and it's fine to say "I want such-and-such to happen but don't know how to do it" (but do be prepared to face "that's not possible" responses). Also please try to define all your terms, e.g. "high-powered handguns" is a completely subjective term without specifics (e.g. "a high-powered handgun is anything more powerful than a 9mm").

I'll start with a few topics of my own:

Youth handgun rights
Current federal law prohibits the sale of long guns (rifles or shotguns) to people under the age of 18, and handguns to those under the age of 21. I want to level that playing field by allowing anyone 18 and over to buy long guns and handguns, and then start looking at arguments for taking that age even lower (I've seen many argue for 16). (Note that current law allows a parent/guardian (or other family member) to purchase a gun and then give it to someone too young to buy it themselves; many of my friends growing up got hunting rifles in this manner well before they could buy one themselves.) (Side note: I also want to lower the drinking age to 18, bringing it in line with voting, dying for one's country, buying tobacco...)

Handgun ammunition has the same restrictions, and I would bring that in line with rifle ammunition as well.

While I don't know how to go about this, I want to bring the states into better compliance with existing federal law regarding reporting to NICS, especially re: the mentally unstable. While I think the list of "prohibited persons" includes too-broad of categories (e.g. non-violent felons are prohibited), the system is nonetheless an invaluable tool and does its job of keeping weapons out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them well (to date NICS has not failed except where the states failed to report required information).

CCW reciprocity
I want universal reciprocity for CCW licenses. However, in doing so, there need to be some restraints in order to respect the rights of the states to regulate themselves in this manner. Specifically, residents must get the CCW license of their state; citizens moving from one state to another would have a window of time (e.g. 30 or 90 days or something like that) within which they would have to get their own state's CCW license. This restriction would prevent CCW licenses for stricter states being effectively nullified by laxer requirements in other states, but still keeps reciprocity valid to make the lives of travelers easier.

Some minimum CCW requirements may also come along with this, but I'd rather leave that up to the states (and requiring residents to have their own state's license makes that possible).

Gun walking
I would reinstate the ban on the federal government running operations like the disastrous Fast and Furious that Obama thinks we don't need (despite the fact that we clearly do need it; case in point: Fast and Furious). Instead of slipping it into a budget so that it's trivial to "repeal" by simply omitting it from the next budget, I would put it into actual statute so that a repeal would require actually repealing the law.

I would also expand that ban to state and local law enforcement agencies.

"Gun-free zones"
Get rid of 'em entirely, as they don't actually do anything. (Note: I would not ban them, so if a state, county, city, or another entity wanted to ban guns in certain places they could.)

I would ban the use of tracer and incendiary ammunition for hunting on federal lands, and would encourage states to enact similar bans. I would permit them for recreational uses only under controlled conditions where they would be less likely to start a wildfire. (Isn't there a big one raging right now that may have been started by hunters using one of these types?)

I would eliminate the "sporting purposes" test for determining the importability of firearms. This test is unconstitutional, especially given the Heller decision that found that defense was a key factor at the heart of the right. Imported weapons would still have to comply with the NFA (see below), however NFA weapons could be imported.

NFA weapons
First, a bit about what this means: The NFA refers to the National Firearms Act, or rather two Acts passed in different years, the latter amending the former. However, the term "NFA" is typically used to refer to a particular class of firearms that the NFA calls "Class 3" (sometimes "Title 3"); this includes short-barreled rifles (rifles with a barrel length under 16"), short-barreled shotguns (same, but shotguns), automatics (any firearm that can shoot more than one round with a single pull of the trigger), destructive devices (e.g. explosives), and the catch-all category AOW ("any other weapon": any firearm that doesn't fall into any of these categories, nor is it a rifle, shotgun, or handgun). Suppressors ("silencers") are also in this category. Any of these weapons are legal (per federal law, anyway) for civilians to own, but they are heavily regulated, require the purchase of a tax stamp (every time the weapon is sold/transferred), and must be registered with the ATF; additionally, no automatic weapon manufactured after 1982 (1983?) may be sold or transferred to civilians. (This is an incomplete summary of NFA, but gives you the relevant bits for the following.)

Here's what I would change about NFA weapons:
* Remove the ban on post-1982 automatics.
* Reduce the time it takes to get your tax stamp for one of these weapons (currently the wait time is as long as 18 months). Applications should never take more than 3 months to be approved (or denied/rejected).
* Reduce the barrel length for rifles and shotguns to 14" before they fall into Class 3. Consider striking short-barreled long guns from the list altogether (shorter barrels are easier to conceal, true, but they also give up more and more of their power as they approach the size of handguns).
* Allow tax stamps to be transferred to family members (e.g. Pa can give his son his SBR without his son having to buy a new tax stamp first).
* Remove suppressors from the list altogether (forget what Hollywood tells you -- the term "silencer" is a misnomer, and a "silenced" firearm is still quite loud, however suppressors are great for helping to protect the hearing of shooters).

So, what about y'all? Feel free to respond to my ideas, and/or to post your own; might want to do that in two separate posts, though, if you want to do both.
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