I have met with a ton of folks on all sides of this issue, and while some will always refuse to hear the other, I have come across some very realistic, sound, common sense solutions to this issue. Understand this will not please everyone, and I will leave the history lessons out of this regarding the 2nd Amendment, the recent SCOTUS rulings and more in an attempt to be as concise as possible. The below does not solve every issue, but addresses primary concerns raised by a good number of people. PLEASE make sure you understand the 2nd Amendment, how Amendments can be changed or eliminated and read this full note prior to commenting. Be a productive person in this discussion. The following is not in any particular order of importance.
Federalize the laws
As our country, and world for that matter, become smaller and smaller, it would be wise to make the laws that govern firearm ownership Federal, not local. The 2nd Amendment, Federal, protects the rights of our citizens to own firearms, so local interpretations are not the best way to approach this. This will help streamline things in regards to background checks, sharing information and so on.
Sharing of information
Require all States, doctors, mental health professionals and all “relevant” people to report to NICS. Attach Federal money to this. If states, agencies or individuals fail to report the “relevant” information to NICS, they lose funding, have their license to practice suspended and so on. If it is truly as important as both sides claim, then this should be easy to accomplish.
Our current NICS is more than sufficient in providing the needed background checks. If the above sharing is required and enforced, then as many concerns as possible have been addressed in regards to background checks. I would expand this to include ALL sales, at every level, including person to person sales. No sale of any firearm can be conducted without a background check. As registry is a major concern for the firearm owners, it may be good to consider all background checks not be recorded or stored in any way, so a background check does not mean the purchase of a firearm. This could be considered a loose registry.
This is the most difficult to address. As this is a massive political issue and politically charged one, a valid fear or concern for the legitimacy in mental health reviews, denials, reports and so on fill this topic. As easy as it would be for an anti-gun mental health professional to write a denial, a pro-gun mental health professional could write an approval. It would be most logical to identify flags or markers to require additional screening prior to approval. This additional screening would need to be at the cost of the government as explained in the “Due Process” section below.
All social media accounts would need to be verified. The owner of every account would have to be verified as the operator of that account, or at least one of the operators (understanding people hire out monitoring of their accounts). These SM accounts can be considered in the approval process to own firearms. This is supported by a host of SM activities by past shooters, murderers and more. So, no more “fake” accounts. Not only will this help on this matter, but many more.
Licensing for ownership
While not requiring firearm owners to register their firearms needs to be maintained (stopping there to avoid the history/legal lesson), it would be wise to require licensing to own firearms. An example of this is (notes below this section as well):
Class I (all handguns) – 4 hours of class room (with exam) and 1 hour of range time (with minimum proficiency score). Learn how to disassemble, clean, reassemble and maintain the handgun. Learn firearm safety and the applicable laws associated with owning a firearm. Learn proper “base” firing skills at 4 distances. Must be renewed every 2 years by a new background check and filing of “range time” showing continued proficiency with that firearm. This would be done electronically and will always use the current drivers license photo or state ID photo.
Class IA (all handguns) – What is commonly known as a concealed handgun license. This would be similar to the current classes and instruction, but would require each licensee to have a minimum level of insurance. Renewal is the same as a Class I, but would require a 2 hour refresher course every 2 years.
Class II (rifles NOT full auto) – This would be a parallel class as the Class I course covering firearm specific material, but would also require a minimum level of insurance for ownership. The renewal for this is the same as a Class I.
Class III (All) – This would allow ownership of any grade or level of firearm. This would require 20 hours of classroom and 10 hours of range time. This would cover all relevant information on the higher grade firearms, safety, storage, laws and so on. A minimum level of insurance would be required, renewal would be every 2 years, require proof of proficiency, and 2, 2-hour refresher courses (one each year).
These would be the same or similar to what is already in place. I will avoid the list of these as they are available all over. Items like owing child support being reason to deny ownership needs to be removed. Owing money should not interfere with one’s ability to defend themselves.
Age of ownership
The age should be 18. If it is moved to be 21 years of age, all citizens that join the military or enter the police force, would be issued a waiver to own at 18. Classes and required education for licensing to own a firearm can begin as early as 17 years of age. It may be a good idea to allow for firearms classes to begin at a much younger age to promote safety, respect and familiarity of firearms.
It is important that any denial have the ability to be challenged/appealed in a timely manner. The costs of these challenges should fall on the government and not the individual. We want to do what we can to avoid this becoming politicized and creating an unrealistic financial barrier to individuals wanting to own a firearm.
Gun Free Zones
These will be eliminated. Detectors, armed duty officers and even armed civilians will be employed at high valued locations like schools, libraries and so on. The current firearm restrictions at airports, courthouses and so on would remain as is. Students will have to have their bags checked upon entry to school, which may require them to have their supplies remain at school and some at home to avoid the need for anything to travel in and out of school other than books, notebooks and lunch items. These would be easy and quick to scan for safety. The cost of this will come from various methods, like a $.01 fee per round of ammunition sold, a small percentage of every dollar collected at the firearms instructional classes and insurance premiums paid for ownership (there are many more ways to pay for this…these are just a couple).
Some of the specifics would need to be worked out by those creating the legislation. Things like the exact minimum material to be covered, the definition of minimum proficiency, minimum level of insurance and so on.
These classes offer a unique level of interaction with the potential owner in that the instructors would be spending time with the students, able to monitor behavior and see potential warning signs that could require a closer look at the approval of certain individuals.
The increased reporting to NICS would allow for more data to be considered in the approval process. Being on medications, seeing a mental health professional, even some level of disruptive behavior and misdemeanors DO NOT automatically disqualify someone, but would require a closer look at that individual.
There would be no restrictions on the number of firearms to be owned.