How We Regulate Guns is Ridiculous–And Dangerous
Our gun regulations in this country are insane. What are we doing, as a country, to regulate gun ownership and use in a reasonable manner? We don’t treat guns like we treat many other items of personal use that can be dangerous to ourselves and to others.
Let’s change the system and come up with something that makes sense, and that makes us all safer, while protecting our Constitutional rights.
Our Credentials and Perspective
The author, the founder of Families Connect, owns guns and has a concealed carry permit for a handgun. So, this isn’t a rant by some anti-gun fanatic.
The author also has a license to drive a car and is a licensed private pilot.
Before a person can be authorized to drive a car, as we all know, you must pass written and functional tests, administered by a representative of the state who has direct face-to-face interaction with the applicant.
Before you are licensed to fly an airplane, there is, of course, much more extensive training and regulation. You must satisfactorily complete written and practical flying tests, under the supervision of a certified flight instructor, before you are authorized to be tested by an FAA examiner. The FAA examiner administers knowledge and flying-skill tests as well.
An applicant also must pass a medical examination, again administered by an FAA-authorized physcian.
All of that is perfectly reasonable: before someone takes off in a car or airplane, with which he or she could kill themselves and others, they are tested and examined in person.
Why should guns be any different?
Our Crazy Gun Regulatory System
In general, to buy and use a gun, there are no written or practical tests in safety and proficiency required. As long as you are old enough, pass a background check and have the money, you can buy a gun.
Now, suppose you want to buy a license to use your gun to shoot a duck. Then, you will need to buy a hunting license. And to buy that license you will need to show that you have successfully completed a hunter safety course (or have some exemption from doing so).
I, the author, have completed two hunter safety courses with my oldest son. The course includes basic instruction on firearm operation and safety, and fundamental shooting skills. It requires base level knowledge and competence that any gun owner and user should demonstrate.
So, to hunt a duck, you must pass a hunter safety course.
But, for other non-hunting uses, there is no course in safety and proficiency required.
This, I believe, is insane.
Ownership and use of guns should be regulated like ownership and use of a car or airplane.
Before a person buys a gun, the person should be of legal age and be required to pass a safety and proficiency course, administered by a trained and licensed government representative, who will have the opportunity to personally meet and evaluate the applicant. The person also should be examined by an designated physician, to assess basic physical and mental health.
No training in safety and proficiency and and no good health sign-off–then you can’t buy a gun.
Gradation of Licenses–Another Good Idea from the Aviation World
Through a combination of FAA regulations and insurance requirements, a freshly minted private pilot cannot fly a 747 full of passengers. He or she can fly a simple, single-engine prop plane with fixed landing gear. To fly more complex and multi-engine aircraft, to fly passengers for hire, and to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (flying in the clouds), more training and licensing is required.
A similar system could work for gun ownership to use. The basic level of licensing would perhaps authorize a user for relatively low-power, simple guns–like a single shot .22. Owning and using more complex and higher power guns would require more training and licensing. Only skilled, trained and licensed people could own and operate high-power, semi-automatic rifles like the infamous AR-15.
Dealing with the Secondary Market
What about the secondary market–aren’t there are lots of guns out there, which can be sold or gifted?
Of course there are, but we have to start somewhere with reasonable regulatory reform. A major buyback offer for guns would be a start. Also, registration of gun ownership should be required–just like registration of ownership of a car or airplane is required.
And here’s an idea with teeth for regulating the secondary market–liability (civil and criminal) for use (and misuse) of a gun would stay with the original owner, unless the purchaser of the gun or recipient of the gun as a gift completes the same mandatory safety and proficiency instruction as does an original gun purchaser. Sale of a gun to a licensed federal firearms dealer also would extinguish liability.
What Does all this Have to do with Families Connect?
Families Connect exists to nurture healthy and sustaining relationships among friends and family. It is hard to imagine anything more destructive to that goal than loss or injury to a family member through gun violence.
So, we at Families Connect care about this. We don’t think that, as a country, we are paralyzed from making progress on this issue by the Second Amendment. We do, however, seem to be paralyzed by politicians unwilling to take reasonable, constitutional and life-saving steps to rationally regulate gun ownership and use.
Rick Bryant is the founder of Families Connect, LLC. He is also a husband, father of three adult children, and a grandfather to two. Before Families Connect, Rick founded and built an investment advisory business, co-founded and served as a partner in a private equity investment business, worked in investment banking, and practiced securities and corporate law.