I have a Colorado CDL. Commercial Drivers License. That means I can drive large trucks around. It started with a 4 week introductory class where we learned what it took to become a driver, from the tires up. And because I was going to drive explosives and possibly small amounts of radiation around I had to have extra training to hold certifications for Haz-Mat (Hazardous Materials). I needed to go to the local Sheriffs Office and be fingerprinted and have a full background check by the state FBI guys. There was an extensive test by my employer and by the state DMV. So I am regulated by my employers requirements, Colorados requirements, any other states that I drive into-their requirements, and the Governments requirements for having not only a regular drivers license but also a Commercial Drivers License. Atop all of that is the strict requirements for Haz-Mat transportation. If I was a Union driver there would be other requirements. If I drove for the Government there would be other requirements. If I drove for a large corporation that hauled sensitive or very large loads, there would be other requirements. The trucking industry is heavily regulated and stiff penalties are incurred for violations. Every time a trucker stops at a mandatory weigh check station, these credentials and your logbook are scrutinized. So a trucker is constantly being regulated while using the roadways.
At the moment, in Colorado, when you purchase a firearm at a retail store you fill out paperwork and it is submitted to the states FBI for a cursory inspection. If you purchase a firearm at a gun show or from another individual, there is no such check. This is the ‘Gunshow Loophole’ you hear talked about. This is how we are currently handling firearm purchases, a kind off 50-50 approach. Not all-encompassing. We as Americans are very concerned about this. Some want a complete regulation and checked process like what I described for the trucking industry, and some want a hands-off approach to gun-ownership. There is very little middle-ground. A lot of this discrepancy comes from a 240 year old document and how we try to interpret what the founders meant when the words were written. Some take a very absolute strict stance when reading it and go word for word with no interjection of meaning. Some try to inject meaning into it and try to read minds from 240 years away.
In my trucking analogy, we as people are regulating the people while making sure the equipment is safe and road-worthy. In the gun analogy, we are regulating the firearms while making a half-hearted attempt to regulate the people. And in my 2nd instance we have groups and individuals at both ends of the political spectrum with very strong opinions on how this should be regulated (or not) and by whom. There is no coming together for the common good to find ways to alleviate this.
The discussion starts with a decision on how to frame the questions. Do we decide to regulate the gun industry as we do the trucking industry? Or do we decide it is a given right to own any gun, in any circumstance, with no regulation? Can we regulate the industry just a little bit, but not fully? If we decide to not tightly regulate firearms, then should we relax the regulations on the trucking industry? The drug manufacturing industry? The explosive manufacturing industry? The chemical manufacturing industry? Fair is fair, right? How can we have very strict rules for some industries that can kill you, but not all of them? Or maybe we need to take a more libertarian stance and de-regulate all of them. It is now the responsibility of the individual to decide what to use, or not. Get the government out. There are now no industry regulations. Do what you want. Where would we be in that instance? Isn’t the government there for the common good? Im asking these questions in a Black and White way, while the gun debate is all Grey issues.
There are no easy answers to these questions I pose. But if our elected officials cannot even find a way to have discussions, then we are not even going to get started. We will continue this cycle over and over again until something really horrific happens. Something so huge it eclipses all the others. Will we look back then and wonder why we didn’t do anything? Or will we say something like “Laser-guns don’t kill people…”
So if we are to fix this problem in any direction, a few things must happen. First is get rid of any PACS and Special Interest Groups throwing money at politicians in order to sway a vote. Both sides can realize that this one action would clean up politicians and let them vote as their constituents want them to. If the politicians are free from the weight of lobbyists then they should vote as you want. Whether your district voted in a Democrat or Republican, they should be listening to you, not the pro- or anti-gun groups with money to spend. Just the people who voted them in. The next one is on you. Become engaged. Read up on your politicians. Read up on the matters that concern you. Talk to people about the issues that concern you. Be polite and listen. We can disagree and still be civil to each other.
But I’m pretty sure none of the above thoughts will get done. There is too much money involved and we are too divided in this country for civil discourse.
Why can’t we as intelligent human beings agree to limit the damage to other human beings with the things we make? We have decided to closely watch some areas, but have decided to not closely watch others. This is infuriating to me. There needs to be a better way.
Here are my (current) thoughts on gun issues. Subject to change as I learn more…
1) Not every individual should be able to own guns. There are some people who have bad intentions and want to watch the world burn, and they shouldn’t own firearms. There are some people mentally incompetent and should not be around firearms. We need to find a way to locate these people and make sure they can’t do harm with firearms to other people. If they are not allowed, because of past incarcerations or mental evaluations, to drive or fly, perhaps they shouldn’t own a firearm. If a government agency has, for any reason, questions about the validity of a certain individual, perhaps they shouldn’t own a firearm. Yes, if a person really wants to cause injury they can do harm with other things -knives-vehicles-explosives-biologics. But lets start on this list by agreeing that we can do our best to find the people that do not need to own firearms. Keep enforcing the current laws, and make damn sure guns are out of the hands of people who shouldn’t be owning them.
2) There are certain firearms that are not suited for individual ownership. Right now we have limits on specific military type items, and fully automated firearms and some accessories like silencers or large capacity clips. But where do we draw that line in the sand? Its not a calibre issue. Its not really a magazine load count issue. Its something else. This would be covered in whatever regulations we come up with if we wish to regulate guns as we do trucks. Or we don’t regulate. We pussy foot around this a lot. Maybe the answer is one or the other. Fully regulate, or don’t regulate anything. This half-assed way we are doing it now sure isn’t working well enough now.
3) Make sure we hold any individual, retailer, government agency, accountable for their actions. If a child is shot with a firearm, and that firearm has not been locked up in some way, the parents need to be held accountable. The parents/guardians should be jailed as if they shot the kids themselves. If a retailer or gunshow is irresponsible in their security (stolen guns) or due-diligence (background checks as required) they need to be held accountable. Lack of security is a big one. Its expensive to make sure tall the guns are locked. But if the retailer can’t afford to do this, perhaps they don’t need a FFL license to sell guns. If a government agency decides to sell, or give, or otherwise arm groups of people outside of America, and then the guns come back and kill Americans, They should be held accountable. Perhaps a few jailed politicians who are so short sighted should be taken off the decision making carousel as an example.