Viewpoint: Steps to stop scourge of gun violence

Viewpoint: Steps to stop scourge of gun violence
Karen Rubin, Columnist

Politicians in the pocket of the NRA profess being “mystified” and unable to do anything about the epidemic of gun violence. But there is no mystery. It is the sheer easy access to the vast quantity of guns, including guns manufactured for war, that is the common denominator to every tragedy, and the lack of accountability for manufacturers, retailers and gun owners.

In fact, 20 times the number of people have been killed by guns in just the last year than were killed in 20 years of fighting the war in Afghanistan. That’s a 9/11 every three weeks, and despite all of us having to get searched to get on an airplane, a terrorist on the No Fly List can still purchase guns.

The only thing that is mystifying is how Republicans have won elections by fear-mongering about rising crime and threats to public safety (drag shows!), but instead of addressing the most terrifying, terrorizing threat to public health and safety.  The Republicans are not just ignoring gun violence but are actively obstructing efforts to curb it, even passing “permitless carry” and “constitutional carry” laws to make it even easier to get a gun.  They are also passing laws, like Stand Your Ground, to make it easier to use deadly force – that is, administer capital punishment – without accountability.

The gun violence epidemic is a public health crisis and increasingly a national security crisis.

Schoolchildren have to “learn” in prison-like settings and live with the trauma of active shooter drills and active shooters in their schools, which are no longer regarded as “safe spaces.” Billions of dollars are being spent on security to “harden” “soft-targets” instead of paying for books or — heaven forbid — teachers.

Our daily lives are “soft targets’ whether just going to a grocery store, a July 4 parade, a movie theater, a concert, a synagogue. No place is safe – well except for the Supreme Court, an NRA conference, a Trump rally, a DeSantis rally – because guns are not allowed.

So now that we established that no right is absolute (see: Viewpoint: Myth of unconstrained Second Amendment gun ‘rights’), what could be, should be done to end the scourge, the daily terror of gun violence?

Here we have suitable models from the rightwing’s crusade to limit women’s reproductive freedom in the 50 years before the SCOTUS6 overturned this constitutional right, or for that matter, voting rights, which require registration and where the rightwing has had such success putting up barriers to the ballot box.

Apply the same to guns:


Ban assault weapons, high-capacity ammo, bump stocks for civilian use. Give a deadline for when it will be illegal to possess (institute a buy-back program; invite weapons be donated to Ukraine.)

End the unprecedented exemption for product liability that shields gun manufacturers in contrast to every other industry or product in America, and bring the gun industry under regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Require the $28 billion gun and ammo industry pay into a Victims Compensation Fund (just as banks are required to contribute to the FDIC and help defray the $597 billion-a-year that gun violence costs society.

Require gun manufacturers to build in Smart ID so that a gun stolen from house, car, soldier or police officer cannot be used by a criminal.

Institute advertising/marketing controls just as government did for Big Tobacco.


Require all guns to be sold by a licensed retailer who is required to do a background check and register ownership of that gun, including guns that otherwise would be traded, sold or gifted among family or friends – they would need to sell them back to a retailer because every transfer would require a background check and re-registration. Retailers would have to pay fines or if multiple incidents, lose license.

Regulate WHERE, HOW and WHO can sell guns – just like they regulate where and how women can access healthcare; require retail shops to have security and report every gun sold.

Harden penalties for retailers who do not do proper background checks or allow straw purchases (criminal penalty if gun improperly sold used in a crime; loss of retail license).

Put a hefty tax on purchase of guns, ammo and gun paraphernalia, which helps recompense law enforcement.

No online purchases of guns or ammo.

Gun Owners

Gun owners must be certified as having gone through training and knowing laws regarding safe storage), licensed to carry a gun and registered as the owner of that specific gun (just as for a car). License requires a psychological exam, background check that includes criminal record.

License/permit must be renewed every 5 years. If a person moves, must get a new license (like voter registration, auto registration).

Universal background check, national registry.

Red Flag laws to prevent anyone who is adjudicated a threat to self or others from possessing a gun.

Require owners to carry liability insurance; homeowners and health insurance have added charge, with settlements made to victims.

Tax license, registration, guns and ammunition and supplies (like tax extra for internet, cable TV, car registration) – money go to Victims Fund;

Ban ghost guns – add criminal penalty if used in crime.

Ban assault weapons, high-capacity ammo. Give a time limit to participate in a “buy back” program.

Civil and criminal penalties for failing to safely store weapons, ammunition; severity increases if gun used in violent crime.

If guns are going to be everywhere, there has to be accountability: Negligent homicide for anyone whose gun is used in murder, felony prosecution for anyone whose gun is used in crime, including parents of kids.

Stand Your Ground defense? Prove actual mortal threat and no way to mitigate (shooting someone in the back you suspect was thinking about shoplifting a bottle of water does not qualify), shooting someone trying to back out of your driveway in their own car doesn’t qualify.

Still not good enough? Then apply the exact language of the Second Amendment at the time of the founding (since the Christo Fascist radical Supreme Court ideologues like to reach back to the beginning of time and the so-called “original text”), when there weren’t any bullets or rapid fire guns, only single-ball muskets.

President Joe Biden, marking National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2, noted that while he was able to sign the most significant gun safety legislation in 30 years and has signed dozens of executive actions, “the reality is that it will take congressional action to make the kinds of meaningful reforms we need to keep our communities safe.”

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