Traditional attempts to curb gun violence have been unsuccessful. The debate has reached an impasse. It’s time to try a new approach.
I have a confession to make.
As a northeastern liberal, I have held certain beliefs for most of my life. First among these beliefs is that no one needs to own a gun. Our nation would be best served with a limit or ban on private ownership of guns.
But it is clear to me that I am wrong. There is, virtually no chance that we will see federal gun control legislation at any time soon and, attempting to regulate guns at the state level is the legislative equivalent of eating soup with a fork
I now know that Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association has it exactly right. The only way to reduce or eliminate the 30,000 deaths and over 100,000 injuries attributed to gun violence each year is to give EVERYONE access to the gun of their choice. This approach upholds our Second Amendment rights while protecting innocent people from gun violence.
I am a child of the Cold War. I know deterrence works. In the 65 years since the Soviet Union went nuclear, no one has used a nuclear weapon. Even North Korea, seems to understand that just because you have a nuke doesn’t mean that you need to use it. If we know everyone is armed, we all will be hesitant to use a gun.
In 1977, over half of Americans reported owning a gun. Today gun ownership has declined to a third of households. But this decline has had little effect on gun violence. Firearm crimes as a percentage of crimes have remained steady during the same period.
We must try a different approach.
The Centers for Disease Control estimated that the cost of deaths from gun violence in 2005 was over 37 billion dollars! This does not include the cost of non-fatal gun incidents. Much of this cost is born by taxpayers. Imagine the savings to government budgets from a significant drop in gun violence.
Rather than relaxing our gun laws, let’s take positive action to make our families safer. I propose that the government undertake to, within five years, provide every American citizen and legal immigrant with a firearm, sufficient ammunition, and basic gun safety training. Assuming that the cost to properly arm a person is $500, this program will pay for itself in one year. Of course, all guns distributed by the government would be fully traceable using the most recent technology, and registered in a national database.
How best to roll out this plan? First, distribute guns to the portion of our population with the highest rate of gun violence and/or the lowest ownership of guns. Interestingly these demographics have a significant overlap. According to Pew Research, almost half of white households have at least one gun in the home. For black households the number is a quarter, and for hispanic households the number is a fifth. It is in black and hispanic communities, particularly in urban centers that the highest incidence of gun violence occurs. Leveling the playing field should have a significant impact here.
Not only will this plan to reduce gun violence make our nation safer, it will also result in employment gains. There will be increased hiring among gun manufacturers. And clearly, we’ll need more gun safety instructors as well.
Finally, arming everyone should make laws such as Florida’s Stand and Protect irrelevant. If everyone is armed, there’s no need to question if someone has a gun. There will be no need to hesitate for even a second when you see something you don’t like. Just shoot! A return to the duel at fifty paces to solve disputes may just be what America needs.