Over the weekend I received a message from a new member on the blog with a question about gun control:
“Where do I go? What do I do? How do I begin?”
Here on the blog I often post pieces about policies, but I rarely address concrete actions. What can we do specifically to move our representatives toward action on gun control?
It occurs to me that one of the obstacles to effective gun regulation is a lack of focus. There is no consensus on what to ask our legislators to do. As a result, a massive public consensus in favor of tighter gun control gets diffused into a thousand different directions, blunting momentum.
In a new post at Forbes, I propose a first step – press Congress to repeal legislation that blocks the creation of gun registries. In the same post I discuss one of the downstream goals of that process, which is to implement an insurance requirement for gun owners.
This is a very simple ask of your Congressman and Senator, and it’s as relevant for Democrats as for Republicans. Repeal laws interfering with the ability of states and federal law enforcement to build databases of gun owners and gun transactions. It’s not very sexy and it wouldn’t change anything overnight, but removing that obstacle would open up enormous possibilities, especially at the state level. You gotta start somewhere.
Is it the right first step? How would we go about it?
Should the appeal toward that first legislative step also mention the goal of insurance requirements?
As to possible legislation and the slow, long-term solution to begin improving our country’s condition regarding guns …
Another point of view:
There are many rational voices, too few are listening. Keep up the excellent work. The battle is worth winning.
America’s problems are so deep, so vast that gun control while a serious, legitimate need, is merely one symptom in a sea of major issues that are disguised by their number and shocking nature. The chaos of the Trump era totally aided and abetted by the Republican Party is leading our country into an abyss of authoritarian control. If you disagree, feel this is an alarmist statement, take the time to read this list compiled by Amy Siskind. (https://everipedia.org/wiki/amy-siskind/).
Chris has posted on authoritarianism and it is the subject of a current best-selling work, “How Democracy Dies”, by Harvard PhD authors – Ziblatt and Levitsky who are deeply immersed in the study of authoritarianism historically and in the current political environment. Siskind sorts through the barage of disparate events in a succinct list that illuminates the far deeper problem we face in our country – the dismantling of our institutions, manipulation of our citizenry, and ultimate control of our system of law and order. Gun violence emerges as a symptom of a very dysfunctional time controlled by very calculating power brokers.
Block out some time for a deep read of this list. Clearly, substantively, it should concern everyone. The chaotic series of events and actions that repeat and shock us on a daily basis, have also had the effect of making it difficult to grasp the enormity of what is happening. Coherent, organized understanding about what is happening and where this is heading when deluged with one after another revelation is sobering and deeply concerning. Siskind’s list in its length and depth presents a deeply disturbing series of events in America.
I like your plan but I see two issues with it.
1) I’m not sure insurance will solve the problem. I think there are two main sources of gun violence. First is gang/drug/criminal elements. These people get their illegal weapons through straw purchases, black markets, corrupt dealers, etc. They’re not going to purchase insurance, and for that matter, aren’t going to register their guns. Second is “domestic” violence in which I include suicide, and violence by people who know each other (doesn’t have to strictly be within family). Suicide is huge. According to this site: https://everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-by-the-numbers/ they comprise 62% of all gun deaths. Although they get all the press coverage, mass shootings by deranged killers don’t account for a large number of our gun deaths.
Your insurance plan does nothing to solve the first type of gun violence. And I think it will be very hard for it to solve the second, because creating risk profiles is much harder than it seems. Take suicides. Forget firearms The *medical* insurance industry would love to exclude suicidal risks because they’re expensive (before the ACA which bans risk stratification). It’s extraordinarily difficult to figure out who’s going to commit suicide and who’s just having a bad day. The only type of violence an insurance plan might help with is domestic violence, where, as you state, someone who gets a restraining order placed on them, or any type of domestic violence charge will find it very difficult to insure a gun. But that’s a relatively small piece of the gun violence pie, and creating an entire market and regulatory apparatus to deal with that small piece may be more effort than it’s worth.
Second is a matter of politics. Every gun control advocate (including me, most of the times 🙂 isn’t asking for compromise. Compromise is where both parties get something and give up something. We’re asking gun owners to give up something, but what are they getting in return? Sure, you can make a moral argument that they should “do the right thing”. That gets you nowhere. Even Trump was smart enough to put a few temporary tax cuts for poor people in his plan to cut taxes hugely for rich people.
What does the average responsible gun owner (the major voting block we need to win over), get with your proposal, or indeed any other gun control proposal? He can already buy whatever gun he wants, without forking over cash for insurance. What does insurance get him? There has to be some sort of practical benefit or else he’s not going to sign up. IMHO, the time to create a national registry was when the assault weapons ban was expiring. If the Democrats knew they didn’t have the votes to re-instate the ban, they should have supported repealing it in exchange for a better gun registry, or something. That at least has the semblance of real compromise. But as usual, Dems negotiated, lost, and got nothing in return.
In this day and age, what does a gun owner want that we gun control advocates would be okay giving him, in exchange for getting him to pay $5/month to insure his guns and register them in a real registry? I honestly don’t know what they lack, so this is a real question. Politics is about horse trading, not morality. So let’s start the horse trading…
“These people get their illegal weapons through straw purchases, black markets, corrupt dealers, etc.”
It’s not the buyers, it’s the sellers.
Really, it’s both, unarmed. Certainly sellers should follow the law, but what about the gun mania that seems to consume buyers? How many guns does one person need? For what purpose? I have a family member, really nice person, who lives in a very safe community with very low to almost non-existent crime, who admits to owning 5 guns (at last conversation with him on this matter….I don’t even want to know if one of those weapons is a semi-automatic long gun)…Why the lust for gun ownership as a material possession and personal salve for reasons that have no substantive relationship to protection of family/self. Did I mention he is a Libertarian/Republican? Wants to drown government in a bathtub? Is in the insurance business?
The plethora of guns for purposes of sheer ownership without absolute need (living in inner Chicago or Baltimore, for example), is troubling to me. Why does this personal need exist, and assuming most of these people are responsible gun owners, why so many? Why the “irrational” fear and over the top level of protection? Why several handguns when one in the nightstand will be all a person can fire at one time?
The larger issue goes back to a post Chris wrote about winning elections (https://www.politicalorphans.com/how-to-win-elections-in-america/). When the primary motivation tool used to mobilize (and control, IMO) one’s base is “fear” vs “hope” – gun proliferation is a natural outcome in a relatively wealthy society that allows people to purchase multiple firearms – even if they never use them, or only use them occasionally for target practice. These guns are therefore, primarily material possessions not means of protection. An adult “security blanket” as it were. How do we as a country deal with such insecurity and paranoia, and, as noted by WX, the despair of individuals who increasingly turn to the death tool so easily at hand – the gun?
Mary -“Really, it’s both” This is true. My point is that the pro-gun crowd has used as a talking point “when you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have guns” or “criminals will not obey the law” or similar variants. And there is a partial truth to it. I say partial because I’ve seen studies that show background checks do prevent felons from buying guns from dealers.
So, for me, it would cause a reset in the argument. It caused a restatement of previous point or sometimes the end of the conversation. Now it’s a simple, short statement. It’s the selling, not the buying. You can prevent a seller from selling under any circumstance you prescribe. Like a universal background check or proof of liability or a certificate of training. The the responsibility goes to the seller. And if you make the consequences severe enough, you will get compliance.
The rest of your comment was nicely written and I am in complete agreement with everything you say. Thanks.
Well, I might be made a liar, and this time there could be significant impact on the gun nuts. I don’t think it can work on a state level (the 4 state compact in the North-East comes to mind) because there will still not be anything stopping someone to drive a gun over a state border (aka Indiana/Chicago).
Huffington Post has a decent article detailing what companies are ditching the NRA, and what ones are sticking with them.
Key companies that are sticking with them: Apple, Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Roku. All of them provide some kind of streaming service or support for that abomination NRATV.
Chris, care to comment on your market driven solution, with companies dictating social policy in the future? If these companies dropped all streaming business with the NRA, that would pretty much end NRATV, until they set up their own provider.
If Chris’ idea of of corporations driving social policy, now would be a perfect time to do it. Imagine what happens if Google dropped NRA from their search engine database, and every telecom dropped the NRA IP addresses from their DNS loopup tables. The NRA would have no internet presence, at least as an official entity.
But I don’t think it will happen, any more than I think a gov’t based solution is likely.
I’m going to be the skeptic in the room and say that I think we’re vastly and desperately underestimating the depravity of the current corruption-based interest system.
Three years ago I posed this question in various conversations on the topic: “How many dead bodies does it take for Republicans to admit something needs to change.” Three years later, I’m going to ask the same, and expect the same result.
We’re considerably (un)lucky we’re at the point where the threshold of allowable depravity has reached a point where select businesses are abandoning the NRA and a few already blue/bluish states are taking matters into their own hands. At the national level, however, Republicans are still playing Fantasy Football with politics and pretending their self-inflicted psychosis and tribal loyalty to simply find a way (or a lie) to blame Democrats for the problem to make the NRA happy enough to keep bankrolling their candidates and stoking more partisan fearmongering that gets them elected.
From over here, Marco Rubio looks like he’s forgotten his grease paint and big red shoes.
How does he look from the perspective of the American Right? What do the MAGA fascists think of him?
The GOP deep pocketed donors liked him well enough to fund his run for president in the republican primary in 2016….and the GOP thought enough of him to encourage him to run again for his Senate seat following his loss to Trump in the primary. Other than following the $$, I am not “in the GOP loop”!
This: from a #neveragain teen, Sarah Chadwick, on twitter –
“We should change the names of AR-15s to “Marco Rubio” because they are so easy to buy.”
10:34 PM – 22 Feb 2018
Twitter is on fire right now. Who knew that teenagers could be so cutting and sarcastic?
I raised that point earlier: is this the beginning of a teen movement which can have ramifications more broadly? At the very least, I think their passion will translate to higher rates of voter registration and voting, period. That, in and of itself, in combination with the Women’s Movement, are two wild cards that I don’t think Republicans are going to corral.
I really hope you’re right, but I’m still a cynic about young people (I guess I’m entering my curmudgeon phase of life 🙂 ) Too many of them think social media effects change. It does not. Old school, unsexy stuff like organizing interest groups, lobbying politicians, walking the blocks in your neighborhood, and *voting* is what creates change. Social media can be a tool to make those tasks easier, but it’s not the end result.
I really hope the youth movement understands that and uses social media to organize the real world, and not the virtual world they spend so much of their lives in. But I haven’t seen it so far…
Here’s my litmus test: before someone works to change national political coalitions, have they managed to change one person in their close social circles (family, friends, neighbors, work colleagues)? If not changing their vote, at least finding someone who didn’t vote last election and getting them to vote this election? Unless the answer is yes, I tend to think they have their priorities mixed up.
Here’s where I come down on the teen “movement” (loosely applied). What the teens have been able to achieve with their brash, no holds barred, impolite, in your face approach is to stop politics in its tracks….which even if it is short-term vs long-term, has offered many object lessons. It’s shocked the system. It’s shown that a different approach an change the rules of engagement. I think that’s important, because for all the phone calls, visits, etc. that we adults have made over the last year+, what good has it done to retard the major initiatives of the Republican Party?
The other valuable point about the teens engagement is, the engagement. They have lifted their eyes and heads from that little computer in their laps, pulled out their ear buds and are actually communicating with other people – adults, even. They are also gaining confidence in their ability to affect change…however long or limited it is. Key will be whether they will persist in their efforts upon the inevitable defeats occur. Right now, they have advanced the conversation on the gun issue tremendously. They have made more people realize that patience and hope and sheer atrocity has not worked and won’t work with the people currently in power. I don’t think that genie is going back in the bottle.
All that said, I’m “old school”. I know cavassing and all the tedious work of seeking votes is the one sure way to impact change. We are, however, in the unenviable position that we don’t have the luxury of time to allow the pendulum to swing back. Too many harmful changes are occurring too fast and patient persistence is not enough. Therefore, I welcome, even applaud the Women’s Movement and the Teen’s Movement…however nascent. It’s all we have in the face of a national Democratic party vacuum. If the grassroots can’t get it done – however old and young – 2020 will be too late.
Just to clarify, would it be the victims and family members of victims suing the person with which the gun is registered? If so, if it’s a murder suicide? Both the shooter and the victim is dead. Most usually there are surviving family members to sue or be sued, but what if not?
Or is it an automatic payment without the mechanism of a lawsuit?
Just not sure how it would work.
How about the gun dealer/seller/manufacturer?
Has the NRA been sued before? Are they protected by the PLCAA? Am I wrong to say, since they have been actively preventing any new gun laws, that they are complicit? Complicit, culpable, Not sure what the word would be.
I did find this on the interweb.
It’s not a particularly unusual question. Law has long since determined if you die, you’re responsible for covering costs, fees, etc. That includes that of any family that survives you. The only exception is if someone is found legally responsible for killing you (which has its own grey topics).
The NRA is not responsible for the ownership, misuse, or mis-sale of firearms. Their conduct is not illegal, since they are simply a lobby/donor wing of the GOP. Their policies, and the effects they have, on the other hand, can readily be flagged as grossly immoral. They’ve strayed very far from being a ‘gun safety advocacy group’ to being a ‘2nd amendment right for mass murderers to access firearms and craploads of ammo’.
Let me make this clear. The difference between an ‘AR’ and a handgun is trivial. You can easily injure or kill as many people with a handgun as you can an AR, the only difference is, essentially, the accuracy by virtue of a shoulder stock and longer barrel. By the time you start talking about the differences in lethality mere accuracy provides, I’ll point out that messing with such things does cause problems for sports shooters and hunters, which are both rightfullly legal.
What makes the NRA highly immoral is that they’ve stymied any Federal legislation, and in many cases State, to investigate policies that could reduce firearm deaths or enact policies that restrict sales of firearms in any way. The NRA use 2nd amendment fear-mongering to rally support and dollars to prevent the Federal government from researching and enacting policies in which a person is not permitted to purchase a firearm. Any person, no matter how disturbed the individual may be, no matter how much psychiatric care, no matter how many whistles blown or warnings given.
Their endgame is a societal structure rife enforced purely by civilian vigilantism (“good guys with guns”) and an escalating arms race between an already militarizing US police force and 2nd-amendment-backed deranged individuals with access to civilian-model military firearms and equipment.
“The difference between an ‘AR’ and a handgun is trivial. You can easily injure or kill as many people with a handgun as you can an AR, the only difference is, essentially, the accuracy by virtue of a shoulder stock and longer barrel.”
One difference is the huge amount of damage done by the velocity of a bullet fired from an AR-15. As has been covered elsewhere, what might be a survivable wound from a 9mm is often completely catastrophic from a 5.56/.223 round. Look on YouTube for videos of the different round fired into ballistic gelatin. No, the elimination of assault pattern weapons is a good start.
As to Mark’s point about the difference in lethality between an AR and most pistols, here is support:
But I see your point otherwise about semi-auto pistols.
As to not being able to find the NRA legally responsible for it’s actions, I would like to see it tested in the courts.
” By the time you start talking about the differences in lethality mere accuracy provides, I’ll point out that messing with such things does cause problems for sports shooters and hunters, which are both rightfullly legal.”
At the risk of alienating some, let me point out that sport shooters or hunters do not have any specific constitutional protections related to their guns.
Here is something and someone the NRA is directly responsible for – this ad featuring Dana Loesch, their director of communications…. In case you missed this diatribe.
I’m curious as to whether I’m alone in thinking that the enthusiasm of the kids is becoming a movement….just as the Women’s March has become….(which I can personally attest to is real.) I am working at the polling stations and Democratic voter turn out is robust…which in TX may not be enough to do anything but make Repubs take notice…but, on a national scale, while the FL massacre is still fresh, the teens mobilized and watching? Should Congress do their normal punt on gun legislation, I believe there is going to be a price….In a year where you have Democratic women mobilized, Democratic candidates up significantly, Democratic candidates seriously outraising Repubs for donations, and a newly energized group who “won’t take no for an answer”? This could be the perfect storm…Will the modest gains in paychecks (for those who saw them) be enough to counter these other factors? Will the American people finally say: “We’ve had enough?” I think it’s possible.
Just read this and it relates nicely to my post above. FYI, I learned tonight why Rubio wouldn’t answer the teen’s question about whether he would no longer take donations from the NRA. Per OpenSecrets, Rubio has collected $13.3 M over his political career from the NRA….That puts him between a rock and a hard place…which I hope happens to all of the MoC who are dodging on the gun issue. It’s about time.
And, this is most interesting. the governors of four adjoining states: NY, NJ, CN, RI have formed a “compact” to deal with gun violence management. Per Cuomo, he said they have decided to go it alone as they have no faith that Congress will do anything. I can see the west coast being the next compact….This fragmentation of our union is unsettling because it underscores how polorized even our states are becoming within the whole. Where will this lead?
One hopeful thing, some big businesses are beginning to sever ties with the NRA, including the Bank of Omaha which handles the NRA credit card. Hopefully, this will spread.
From the TX Tribune…Re: early voter turnout. One day is not a long-term indicator but it is encouraging.
While some of us are trying to cipher a way out of this insanity, Red states are going all in, with the insanity, that is.
The states that are listed from most restrictive to least. If you want an idea of the kind of world the American Conservative wants, just scroll to bottom and read about the NEW changes in some of the states there. Like the freedom to carry with no bothersome licencing or training.
An example, “Kansas got even more gun-friendly this year when the state enacted a law that allows for permitless carry in public buildings, which includes those on college campuses.”
Another, “Oklahoma scores well in every category with a shall-issue (and limited permitless carry) CCW law, no restrictions on NFA items or Black Rifles and a strong Castle Doctrine statue.”
Apparently, America’s teens don’t care. They are forging ahead using social media’s powerful tools, with Snapchat as their platform of choice.
I’ve often heard the argument that if cars are required to be insured, then why not firearms? Thing is that when a car is stolen, your insurance company will not pay for claims arising from the thief’s (mis)use of the vehicle. There is pretty much no way you could be sued successfully either.
Liability insurance for firearms would not “travel” with the firearm. There is no precedent of which I am aware for liability insurance in the event of criminal misuse for anything, let alone after a theft of the insured property. So no – it’s not like vehicle liability insurance. It would be something entirely new.
Have there been any studies regarding what the premiums for such a policy might be? Obviously, if the premiums are excessively high – say in the thousands of dollars per year – the entire concept is DOA.
Perhaps we could do like a public option for health insurance, but just for guns, to help promote competition and keep premiums low. We could also pass some tax credits to help offset some of the cost for people whose records are clean and who haven’t caused any problems; maybe even some additional incentives for those who get more actively involved in gun safety and become an instructor or something.
Liability would have to attach to the firearm and its registered owner. Firearm stolen? You’d have a grace period to report the crime.
As for cost, it would be cheap for most people. Put yourself in the shoes of an insurer to see why.
About 80 million Americans own a gun. There are about 320,000,000 guns in circulation.
Out of that 80m, about 40,000 are involved in a gun related death or injury every year. As an insurer, if you covered everyone, you’d pay a claim on about .05% of your policy holders each year. But of course, you’re not going to cover everyone. You’re going to compete pretty heavily to offer cheap coverage on the lowest risk pool.
A gun owner with a concealed carry license and proof that they own a safe and a gun lock could probably get coverage on several weapons for less than $5/month. By the way, there are 15m CCL holders in the US. Just covering them at that low rate could yield a revenue stream worth almost $60m a month. They account for a tiny percentage of annual gun deaths, by some accounts roughly two dozen. For an insurer, that’s free money.
At the other end of the spectrum, let’s say you’re a male under 25. Your only training is the bare class required to qualify for insurance. You were dishonorably discharged from the military after dropping out of high school. You completed no secondary education and are currently unemployed. You had a restraining order filed against you by a girlfriend three years ago. You will be uninsurable. Your only hope of getting access to a gun is a find some black market vendor, someone deep enough underground to be unconcerned about criminal penalties, and pay a fortune. How quickly do you suppose the average washed up loser could locate said vendor and produce the cash necessary to get a 22 pistol, much less something really lethal?
The picture gets even more interesting with the edge cases. There are a lot of people like me who may own granddad’s .38 and an old .22 rifle. With solid credentials and a Saturday class maybe an insurer charges me $6/mo for insurance. Factor in a divorce, for example, and maybe my premiums double. Worse, if I report one of those weapons stolen, my premiums might double again. Or if I show up in a police report, or my credit rating takes a nosedive, that premium probably goes way up. Lots of those kinds of owners who have otherwise ordinary lives would just sell/surrender their weapon rather than keep writing checks. Year by year, we would steadily winnow the number of guns in circulation and gun owners.
Most enthusiastic gun owners are also a pretty safe insurance bet. Insurers are very good at evaluating and pricing risk, much better than congressmen or even police officers. Insurers would have no problem at all spotting excellent risks while pricing in subtle increments of rising risk. Under a scheme like this the overwhelming bulk of serious gun owners would pay practically nothing for insurance while America’s “middling” owners, the casual gun owners who make up probably half or more of the overall total and mostly have no business owning a gun, would get steadily priced out. And random nutjobs who today can walk into any WalMart and grab a kill-stick, would not be able to get a weapon at all, except in the most extraordinary cases.
I agree about your assessment of the insurance risks and costs – except what would be the penalty for simply lying?
Or for not having insurance?
I think that you would also need a gun database to have any chance of that working
Well, that’s what the post was about, but yes. You’d have to maintain a registry and the insurers would have to have access to it, down to individual serial numbers. Just like with cars.
>] At the other end of the spectrum, let’s say you’re a male under 25. Your only training is the bare class required to qualify for insurance. You were dishonorably discharged from the military after dropping out of high school. You completed no secondary education and are currently unemployed. You had a restraining order filed against you by a girlfriend three years ago. You will be uninsurable. Your only hope of getting access to a gun is a find some black market vendor, someone deep enough underground to be unconcerned about criminal penalties, and pay a fortune. How quickly do you suppose the average washed up loser could locate said vendor and produce the cash necessary to get a 22 pistol, much less something really lethal?”
Cherry-picking, some would argue. Stephen Paddock was a millionaire whose only apparent flaws were that he was divorced twice and that he was an avid gambler – none of which would stop him from acquiring the weapons he used to butcher Las Vegas under your plan.
An extraordinary case? Admittedly so, but why should we resign ourselves to allowing market forces to work gradually when we can take steps to crack down on the most outrageous excesses right now? Why shouldn’t we ban oversized magazines and assault weapons that have no business being in citizens’ hands?
***why should we resign ourselves to allowing market forces to work gradually when we can take steps to crack down on the most outrageous excesses right now?***
Because you can’t.
The insurance argument is premised on doing relatively doable things.
That said, a guy who’s purchasing multiple AR-15s and other weapons is going to get a lot of scrutiny from insurers. And as that occurs in the world at large, it will have secondary impacts that might have reached all the way to Paddock.
What do you think happens to gun manufacturers when it costs $200-500 a year for a stable, highly qualified person to own an AR or a Barrett? The answer is that very few of them get made and their price skyrockets. As these dynamics play out over time, the phenomenon of the arsenal-owner starts to get squeezed. As this guy keeps going back for his bi-annual recertification, he might get flagged. Gun owners are likely to start policing their own ranks to a certain extent in order to preserve their access and protect their traditions.
Maybe three years into this scheme, a guy like Paddock can still slip through. Ten years into this scheme, the level of scrutiny faced by even an apparently stable non-dealer who owns more than six or seven guns takes a toll. Like water on rocks.
Over the course of a generation you could get gun ownership rates declining to European levels, and gun deaths declining in pace. I can’t think of any other credible path to that kind of outcome.
To clarify, I’m not arguing against registering and licensing – I’m on board and agree with the long-term results. My point in arguing for an outright ban is to do something *now* and make it even slightly more difficult for these sorry sacks of flesh to get their hands on these kinds of weapons; particularly as we wait for market forces to take effect.
That said, and with all due respect, when you say “we can’t,” what you’re *actually* saying is that it’s impossible to implement a full-on ban when we already have so many of these weapons already on the streets, hence why we turn to the market. And to be sure, while I agree with that underlying premise, that rather cynical view is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Republican talking points of if we can’t get 100% of what we want, then why the hell bother?
If the market works out in ten years and we become like Europe, repeal an otherwise useless AWB with a smile on your face, if you want. In the meantime though, let’s do everything we can on these outrageous excesses – even if they don’t go as far as we’d like – *and* let the market do its job.
Here’s why I don’t want to see a ban.
First of all, the language of these bans is always problematic. The question is *what is it exactly that you’re banning?* Under the old ban it was pretty easy to make minor alterations in a design to avoid the intent of the law. There were endless lawsuits over which weapons were actually covered. And the “win” of the ban will dissipate the public energy otherwise available for more meaningful proposals.
On the other hand, if you start with something substantive, like making registries possible, or even legislating a federal registry, then lots of downstream limitations start to get easier. I’m pretty convinced that would be easier to ban AR15’s three years after implementing an insurance scheme than it would be now. So few people would still have or want one that the political slant would change.
Just a question of priorities. I’d prefer to see energy poured into more fundamental factors impacting the infrastructure of the gun culture, like a registry, than stuff that I think is mostly cosmetic, like an assault weapon ban.
Gentlemen: Well, 0.05% sounds like a small number, but I wonder what the average payout would be? If we assume an average payout of say $1M, (which is likely on the low side), that’s $40B in potential liability per year, assuming 40,000 deaths, or about $500 per gun owner per year in claims alone. (If all were insured.)
If we exclude suicides, (as we probably should), the picture improves significantly.
But few people are going to buy insurance if the premiums are thousands per year. The premium escalators you mentioned would cause most to simply opt out – of insurance, not of firearms. (Remember that the 320,000,000 guns in circulation are essentially *all* unregistered.)
In your analysis was mentioned a significant statistic, and one that is, (in my view), perhaps important: the bloodbath predicted by some with the proliferation of CCLs did not occur. Something about the *state’s* vetting of CCL applicants seems to be working, and working very well.
For this or any scheme to have significant effect, compliance is critical. The general distrust of central government is not going away anytime soon. The states could be encouraged to adopt ownership vetting similar to CCLs. And yes, the purchase of firearms, any firearm, by minors makes no sense. This is very easily handled by federal changes to the regulations imposed on all FFL holders. (Including Walmart.)
Last fall, I was riding to the woodlot with my neighbor in Ontario. On the way, we stopped by the post office. He went in and picked up an unmarked cardboard box, and tossed it in the back of the truck. It contained a new semiautomatic rifle many would refer to as an “assault rifle”. He had ordered it by phone from an outlet in B.C.. Obviously, this would be impossible here in the US.. He does not have the equivalent of an FFL, nor a restricted firearms permit. He does have a thing called a PAL, or general possession and acquisition license, which is required of all Canadian gun owners. Getting one is far less onerous than a CCL. Also recall that Canada scrapped their “Long Gun Registry” several years ago, after billions of dollars, and zero impact on crime.
Chris, I have expressed my cynicism already about any changes to the insanity that is the gun fetish in the U.S.
But I read this comment you made: “Over the course of a generation you could get gun ownership rates declining to European levels, and gun deaths declining in pace. I can’t think of any other credible path to that kind of outcome.”
What is unique about the U.S. in first world countries that a market solution is needed for such a huge social problem? What makes a government-based solution not possible? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe a government based solution will happen either, but why?
BTW, Florida today voted that pornography is a public health risk, while refusing to debate any kind of restrictions on assault weapons.
I wish there was a more elaborate answer, but there isn’t. We have a massive problem with firearms because white people in this country have some terrifying hangups around race, going back hundreds of years. There isn’t another reason.
>] First of all, the language of these bans is always problematic. The question is *what is it exactly that you’re banning?* Under the old ban it was pretty easy to make minor alterations in a design to avoid the intent of the law. There were endless lawsuits over which weapons were actually covered. And the “win” of the ban will dissipate the public energy otherwise available for more meaningful proposals.”
Let’s set aside political momentum for a moment and focus specifically on the legislative language of the bans themselves, because you raise a fine point. It seems to me that we shouldn’t ban specific weapons themselves – because, as you mentioned, alterations will circumvent the law and the guns will be back out on the street – but rather we should set a simplified standard and go after that.
Say that a gun that shoots x number of bullets within a given time frame is excessively powerful and citizens can’t have them. Appropriately considered, this would make alterations utterly worthless, and the goal – setting aside the obvious conflict of those weapons that are still on the street – is met.
>] Just a question of priorities. I’d prefer to see energy poured into more fundamental factors impacting the infrastructure of the gun culture, like a registry, than stuff that I think is mostly cosmetic, like an assault weapon ban.”
I tend to agree with that, though given the time-consuming process it is, I worry if people will give it the breathing room it needs to flourish before the inevitable challenges pick away at it – not so different from how the Affordable Care Act fiasco played out.
That being said, if you enact a variety of measures across a broad spectrum, groups like the NRA and others will be divided up as to what to go after and so the single-minded ferocity that you saw with the ACA wouldn’t happen. Admittedly, this is an argument about strategy rather than policy, but I don’t think it irrelevant.
I agree with the multi-pronged approach as a strategy and I also feel our problems here will require them all. For all the comments that we have enough laws on the books and we just need to enforce them….it comes back quite simply to this: anything that is impeding enforcement of existing laws or would be beneficial in addition to existing laws – needs to be implemented. The point is we don’t know what will work best but if we don’t try those that are reasonable, we will never know, will we? Start somewhere. If that doesn’t work, do something else. But this crap about “now is not the time to talk about new legislation” is a worn out trite statement. The American people deserve action.
Frankly, the insurance concept doesn’t ring true with me as a solution that will address the breadth of our gun problem in America. But, I would support trying it as long as we do the other sensible things as well. I don’t want one more gun person to tell me, “you want to take our guns away”. That’s bogus and they know it. The kids are right – the time is long overdue for action. I’m with “them”.
As to Ryan’s point about the continued rate of fire of a gun, all automatics including automatic pistols can be reloaded quickly. Revolvers with swing out cylinders have speed loaders. The question is, if attention is only put on military style rifles, will potential mass shooters substitute weapons.
Fifty makes point about all the unregistered guns that are sloshing around. Guns passed down through the family or collections sold at flea markets and so on. It occurs to me that there is a solution. Put the emphasis on selling and not on the buying. Make it clear if you sell a gun to someone that has not gone through the process of clearance, whether its an insurance policy or whatever. you will go to jail. How do you enforce it? Put just a couple of undercover agents in each state buying guns and advertise each arrest and conviction. Illegal sales will dry up eventually.
One other thing, can we put a substantial tax on guns to pay for security at schools and other public places?
It’s done all the time with bars – testing sales of alcohol to underage kids. As the kids said tonight at the CNN Town Hall (hope all here watched it…so powerful) – “We’re tired of talk; we need action; people are dying.”
To Rubio who to his credit, showed up – but more of the same old same old….there are things we can do and things we can’t. As the kids stated: make a start. Republicans have had 8 years to “do something”. They hide behind “it’s difficult, or, it’s complicated”. Well, so is losing a kid or a spouse. The kids were speaking a language the politicians understand. Rubio never agreed to give back or not accept any more of the NRA donations. That was a mistake, and the kids called, B.S. Amazing how these nerdy teens who we think are so disconnected from the world really are pretty amazing kids. Let’s do all we can to protect this smart generation, because we need their clarity and honesty. Imagine – a government without B.S.
*Make it clear if you sell a gun to someone that has not gone through the process of clearance, whether its an insurance policy or whatever. you will go to jail.*
Note to Self: When running a political organization, do not adopt policies that facilitate the death of the children of your supporters.
Note to self: #5 – I hear you.
And Fifty, respectfully, that’s just not how insurance works. Each policy would have caps, along with rules for exceeding the caps, rules for individual liability, etc, just like cars. And guns would be FAR cheaper to insure than cars, as the pool of insureds with a claim each year would be a fraction of what we see with vehicles.
This also points out one of the obstacles to using insurance-style solutions to simplify public policy problems – complexity. A lot of what insurance does flies in the face of seemingly obvious logic.
Chris – Few auto claims are at the policy limit. Pretty much all of these would be. And of course there would be limits. 100K like cars? How exactly would that be useful? We are talking about death here. Is the goal simply to increase the cost of firearm ownership By putting money in the pockets of private insurers?
I can see by my health insurance premiums since the ACA how well that works. I need firearm liability insurance about like I need pregnancy insurance!
Because doing so would require a 60-vote supermajority in congress, and would, at best, only pass in very blue states.Don’t underestimate NRA fearmongering, it’s not just the midwest that’s big on guns, but also hunting-country in much of the northeast as well.
Keep in mind the discussion is not just about personal defense weapons, but also involves hunters, sports shooters, enthusiast businesses (like some YouTube product review channels), and collectors.
One of the biggest impediments to gun control is the level of trust people have for leaders and institutions. If you make something illegal that was once legal, you will get a lot of noncompliance. I think a lot of current owners of semiauto firearms, who are now law abiding, would hide their property or try to retain it somehow. Laws that a big enough percent of the population ignore becomes meaningless. Drug laws and prohibition are examples. The US Marines could not have enforced the 55 mph speed limit. Arguably, all three of those laws made people healthier and safer. You simply couldn’t convince people it was for their own good
Those who own semi-auto firearms are free to keep them – locked up – but they shouldn’t use an AR-15 as their walking around gun. And, I sure as heck don’t want to see one in my grocery store (TX). As for drug laws – why not consider that the laws are wrong? Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug? We are actually having to struggle to get approval for medical marijuana? Again, look at the laws. Prohibition – Again, we’re not taking away people’s right to drink “responsibly”, only restrict drinking to ensure that people are not inebriated to the degree that they are a danger to themselves and others. I worked in my community with others to establish regular bar closing hours and that change has been effective. So, good laws, sensibly written and responsibly enforced, can make a difference. Doing nothing is not.
The trick is getting a sensible and enforceable law in place. Congress has basically become legislatively inept.
All the GOP has is Fantasy Football policies glued together by internet conspiracy theories and NRA fearmongering. Most moderates have ever fled or shoved their heads between their kidneys waiting for their suspension of disbelief (that the GOP has good policies) to come back.
Congress is, at best, a few heartbeats away from collapse while the GOP’s partisan contrarianism locks up any ability for the Federal government to function and adapt. ‘kick the bucket’ federal budgets for the past, what, ten years? This gig is on life support.
I also was raised with guns in the house. My father came from rural NM, where guns are common. I was given a twenty-two rifle for my 12th birthday. But there was a caveat, in that I had to take a NRA sponsored gun safety course. That was in 1957 and we were on a farm in Central Washington. At that time the NRA was basically a safety and sportsmen’s association. It focused on sportsmen, hunting and target shooting, with the supposed purpose of teaching gun safety and marksmanship to enable citizens to become more effective soldiers. That was during the era of mass armies. That same association supported the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. That was also the year that I decided that there was no need for widespread gun ownership and that access to firearms needed to be restricted. That was largely due to the assassinations that occurred that year.
However, beginning in the 1970’s the focus of the NRA began to change until 1977, when there was a coup and the gun rights advocates took over control. Since then it has become essentially a lobbying organization ran by the the firearms manufacturers with the primary purpose of increasing the market for firearms by any means possible. The sportsmen, hunting and target shooting functions were deemphasized in favor of the lobbying activities.
In a nutshell that is why in my opinion, in today’s highly urbanized society with the requirement for a highly trained, sophisticated and technical military, the NRA no longer serves a reasonable purpose. In our urban society, gun control and regulation is absolutely essential. Indeed public safety demands such an approach. To be sure there are some areas of the rural West where firearms have a legitimate purpose. Hunting is satisfying to many people. However, having widespread firearms use and ownership for “self-defense” is not justified, period. Certainly, there is no conceivable reason for having widespread ownership of assault type weapons and adaptations that enable them to function in essentially an automatic mode. For hunting or other legitimate uses, a slide or bolt action rifle or shotgun is perfectly fine. In the few cases where firearms for self defense or home defense are justified, then a basic revolver or semi automatic pistol with a maximum cartridge of 5-6 rounds is adequate.
In conclusion, in the old West, the first thing the towns did was limit the open carrying of firearms. That was true of the railroad heads on the transcontinental railroads and the towns of the Southern and Northern plains, the Mountain West and the Pacific Coast states. The citizens all realized the danger of firearms and moved to control their use except for legitimate purposes.
So, your suggestion is to get the insurance industry involved? That means the poor and working class would be disarmed, the moderately successful would pay high insurance premium, and the rich would be in their gated communities with armed guards. And the criminals would continue to have a field day. Besides fifty percent of the preachers, insurance industry is the biggest snakes in the grass in the country. I always wondered why you had to have liability insurance on every car you own. It seems to me the driver is the one liable in accident not the car. I can understand collision and theft on each car.
As far as gun control is concerned , its going to happen. As the younger generation takes over , the demographics are there. Younger folks are less interested in hunting and other shooting sports. They are more diverse and many come from cultures without a tradition of legal private firearms ownership. I say that as a gun owner and NRA member. With the proviso that the country doesn’t tear itself apart first.
I have been following this blog since when it was GOPLifer and find the articles and comments very illuminating. I do not usually comment because I lack the eloquence of others here, but here goes;
I was raised in the Southern gun culture and have been a firearms owner for the better part of my life. I am NOT NRA though I was for a short while. I gave up that when the NRA put a lot of money into my district many years ago to topple a popular member of congress here in Oklahoma.
Personally, I am morally opposed, for myself, to hunting. I do like to target shoot.
My problem with the NRA and the GOP in their pocket is they will make absolutely no reasonable compromise on any issue; i.e. gun show loopholes, silencers, bumpstocks and yes, assault type firearms. I am 61 and I can remember when there were no AK’s or AR’s in the civilian market. To Creigh’s point, limiting to pumps, levers, wheels and bolts would be just fine, IMO. Prohibit the sales of the assault pattern rifles and do a buyback. Require pretty heavy insurance for each firearm owned, close loopholes, build a national registry and require a gun owners permit.
I don’t really see why a lot of gun people do not make a huge fuss over weapons restrictions in the National Firearms Act of 1934. Perhaps covering more weapons with such an act would be a good start. Another thing would be to continue what has happened this time, the showing how much NRA money went to the “Thoughts and Prayers” politicians. Perhaps if there is truly anything to NRA taking money from Russian sources they could lose their 501(c) 3 status.
I know firearm ownership will never go away in my lifetime, but a start has to be made somewhere.
The 3 rolling billboards that trolled Marco Rubio in FL may be the most clever, effective tool I’ve seen used in the gun debate. Whoever thought that up has a bright future in campaign marketing.
Truly, how is this massacre any different than the past ones?
A single man in Vegas causes 5% of the casualties of 911. Post 911, the U.S. spends a trillion dollars to invade and occupy two countries, and creates a whole new law enforcement agency with massive restrictive legislation to support it.
After Vegas, nothing.
Why does anyone think anything will change this time? It would be wonderful, but I am past hoping. A completely different approach is needed, one that Mary and others would abhor.
How is it any different, you ask? Our children are what’s different – not even a week after being face-to-face with the terror of death, they’ve stood up to light the flame of hope and take matters into their own hands. They’ll need our help and our support, no doubt, but if they can stand back up to keep fighting, then there’s just no way in hell that we can entertain giving up.
Ultimately, you can do whatever you want, but just know that those bastards would love nothing more than to make themselves a martyr and the self-proclaimed victim from someone who, whatever their intentions, gave up fighting for change through the political process – and those still in that fight wouldn’t have any choice but to firmly disavow that person.
Ryan, color me the cynic, but let’s put a pin in this and come back to it a week from now, a month from now, 6 months from now.
The students plan on marching on Washington. That is great, but do you seriously think the politicians will do anything? The kids will go to the politicians armed with great intentions. The NRA will go to the same politicians armed with cash.
I just scratched an entire paragraph in reply to your last comments. I figured it is too incendiary, after reviewing it. Suffice to say, I doubt wayne lapierre, pete brownell, and chris cox want to be martyrs. They make too much money, live far too good a life from their evil for that.
Perhaps the leaders of the NRA live in a monoculture that Chris described. But the leaders of ISIS also live in a monoculture. It does not make them any less dangerous, and evil.
Is one march on Washington going to change anything? No, and Republicans and the NRA will do absolutely everything in their power to mitigate it and push it out of the public consciousness, no doubt about it.
How is all of that all *that* much different from the women’s suffrage movement and from the civil rights movement, and, really, from virtually ANY grand movement taken on by citizens? Setbacks and disappointment are part of the game, and political opposition has always been like a proverbial wall that needs to be chipped away at one piece at a time.
I tell you once more – don’t give up in the encroaching despair of the moment. Public opinion is *overwhelmingly* on our side to a ridiculous disagree, and as Chris pointed out, our real problem’s just a lack of focus and a targeted campaign to get what we want. Beyond that, Millennials and the generation behind them are growing ever more frustrated with inaction – and their political power and presence grows stronger by the day. Parkland’s children are a testament to that reality.
That said, you’re simply wrong when it comes to the idea that Wayne “The Pierre” LaPierre wouldn’t enjoy making a martyr out of himself, and particularly the NRA at large. That’s what these people do above all else – casting themselves as constitution-loving, law-abiding citizens that are constantly under attack from extremist liberals, the MSM, President Obummer, and whatever else they cook up in their disturbed minds. The last thing in the world they need is actual justification to make that claim – they’d never, ever let it go.
(1) Reinstate funding and CDC research on gun violence.
(2) Repeal the Tiahrt Amendment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everytown_for_Gun_Safety#Tiahrt_Amendment
(3) Become broadly informed on the history of gun legislation in the U.S. and other countries then develop “targeted” legislation to address identified areas of need and potential gain.
(4) Reinstate the Obama regulation designed to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illness that was nullified in Jan. 2017 by a Grassley-sponsored bill. Expand this to incorparate “red flag” capability.
(5) Vote those members of Congress who refuse to address sensible gun violence legislation – out of office, as so succinctly, honestly stated by a 17 year old student.
You have come a long way with this gun issue, Padawan.
Any step is good, but here’s what I’d like to see: Reinstate a ban on the manufacture, importation, and sale of assault rifles. Then have the Federal Government offer to buy any existing weapons at a price that makes it very hard for anyone else to compete.
Ideally, ban any semi-automatic weapons. Bolt, lever and slide action rifles and shotguns, and revolver handguns should be plenty for legitimate hunting and home defense.
Also, and this is something the Government can’t do, is for people to pressure the media to stop identifying shooters. The other night David Muir was saying “Officials are still searching for a motive,” and I was literally screaming at the TV “He wanted to be on national TV, you @#$%^ idiot!”
If I may, some revolvers can be loaded almost as fast as semiautomatics. If they break open or swing out. However a basic revolver with a fixed cylinder would limit the shooter to 5 or 6 rounds. It can be reloaded but not quickly. And it seems like it would suffice for most home protection duties. For hunting a bolt action rifle. Anything with capabilities below that might require minimum training.
And I don’t think a ban will ever fly. At least in my lifetime. Extensive training with a short visit with a mental health professional would probably be acceptable to most gun owners.
Insurance would definitely fix a lot of problem. But Chris is right, any fix depends on tracking guns or gun owners and probably both.
And it can’t be a one time deal, Insurance paid every year until you prove you sold the gun would keep most of us honest.
State-level efforts to ban assault weapons – limited though they are in effectiveness – have been successful in the face of legal challenge. Our problem lies purely with getting the national political will to get it done, and we’ll get there eventually.
Thank you for the suggestion. I just emailed my senator and representative and hope that many of your other readers do as well.