The Unanswered Question

So … what gun control law that you think should be passed (if you think tighter gun control is the “answer” this week) … and how would that law have prevent the shooting which spurred you to want tighter gun control? How would that work? Consider this before you answer.

5 Responses to The Unanswered Question

  1. 1. All guns must have a serial number, and a copy of the # must be embedded inside the metal of the gun too so scratching it off won’t make it impossible to identify the gun.

    2. Handguns must be test fired once by the manufacturer and the bullet stored to create a database of ballistics profiles.

    3. Guns must be purchased with a $10,000 insurance policy that will be paid to any unjustified victim of the gun. Should the policy have to be paid out (say your kid takes the gun and injurs the neighbors kids), the owner either has to trash the gun or buy a new policy for $100,000 of coverage.

    4. Gun sales and transfers will go thru dealers via instant background checks. The insurance policy goes with the gun so if you sell your gun on the black market and five years later it turns up in a crime you’re on the hook for illegal sales and have to buy the $100,000 policy on future gun purchases.

    5. Guns without serial numbers, untracked guns etc. would be a serious crime.

    On the other side:

    1. No gun databases. The firearm dealer checks the background and provides proof of transfer of the gun but the information will not be saved so you cannot create a database of who has what guns in their homes. You can only prove that the guns found inside a home are legal or illegal. Sort of like how cigarettes or booze has a tax stamp. That proves it was purchased legally but the gov’t doesn’t know you’re buying a little or a lot of the stuff.

    2. Background ‘pre-clearing’. Register who you are and get a #, unless you get convicted of a violent crime or something like that you can use that # for quick clearing of your purchases or transfers at a reduced or no cost.

    3. Anti-gun laws voided cross the country. States can decide about concealed carry but cannot make it illegal to have guns in your house provided you followed 1-5 above.

    4. Assalt weapons, mega-clips etc. can be legalized provided one carries the $100,000 coverage on them.

    Would it have prevented the Newtown shooting? Probably not, the mother was quite well off and could have easily afforded the insurance and neither her nor the kid had any history that would have caused them to fail a background check. But it would almost certainly frustrate some rampage killings and limit a lot of more mundance gun crime an accidents. I suspect the insurance policies would not cost very much given that most guns almost never end up in crimes or accidents but those who establish a habit of letting their guns get into wrong places the premiums would become steeper (which they should given they would be by definition less responsible gun owners).

    I don’t get volokh’s concern about costs to lower income gun owners. Look, a gun is a material thing, material things cost money. The nature of money is that the more of it you have, the easier it is to get more material things. Guns aren’t cheap, even the lowest end oens cost a few hundred dollars. If you can’t afford that then you can’t afford a gun. Get a better job or cut back on other spending.

  2. Has a good take on the NRA, which after taking a week to get their thoughts together have clearly jumped the shark:

    Yet today, LaPierre got up and described the gun lobby’s vision of our future: “A police officer in every single school.” “Armed security … building design … access control … information technology.” “An active national database of the mentally ill.”

    This is the NRA’s idea of a free country. Kindergarteners on lockdown. Federal monitoring of everyone’s mental-health status. Cops in every hallway.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/scocca/2012/12/nra_press_conference_the_lesson_of_newtown_when_gun_nuts_write_gun_laws.2.html

    Keep in mind the complaints about ‘violent video games’, it’s disturbing to me that the NRA’s agenda seems to be to buy additional freedom for guns while shrinking every other type of freedom.

  3. Boonton,

    Part 1.
    1 -> I think they do. I’m unclear on where you would put a serial number that couldn’t be removed but could be seen.
    2 -> All guns so far as I know are fired by the Mfg. Many include a target to demonstrate they are accurate. This objection deals with identifying the gun and shooter? How often is this an issue? Are you solving a problem that doesn’t exist?
    3 -> The pdf I linked the other day indicated that given the frequency a $1 million policy would cost about $100 per year for gun owners, which means $100k would be $10. The very small elasticity of murder rate to gun ownership indicates to me (if I understand what is meant by elasticity) that legal gun ownership rates are basically irrelevant to gun crime.
    4 -> Sellers would like getting rid of the waiting period.
    5 -> What do you do with antiques?

    Part 2
    1 -> I don’t think this exists? Is this being suggested?
    2 -> Is this like the Illinois FOID card (an ID card to buy guns or ammunition)?
    3 -> That would be, uhm, Constitutional … which Chicago is discovering. :D
    4 -> Clips is a silliness to annoy the pro-gun lobby (and one part is to call them “clips”, they are called magazines apparently). Changing a magazine is a matter of about a second, maybe two if you’re unpracticed. Assault weapons are a basically meaningless distinction based on largely cosmetic details attached to a semi-automatic rifle. If the Colorado theater shooter was interested (logically) in inflicting mayhem a bag of semi-auto 12 gauge shotguns would have been “more” effective. That weapon (semi-auto 12 gauge) is the most common advice for your home defense buyer, btw (for those who buy guns for that reason).

    Would it have prevented the Newtown shooting? Probably not,

    I have seen zero (!) suggestions made in the post Newtown shooting period by the anti-gun crowd that would have prevented the shooting. Which is regrettable for the anti-gun crowd.

    I suspect the insurance policies would not cost very much given that most guns almost never end up in crimes or accidents but those who establish a habit of letting their guns get into wrong places the premiums would become steeper (which they should given they would be by definition less responsible gun owners).

    $10/year for $100k isn’t too steep.

  4. Boonton,
    I’m not going to defend the NRA.

    I own 2 .22s (a rifle and a pistol) and want to get back to shooting regularly. But I haven’t “joined” or contributed to the NRA. If I was to buy a 3rd gun I don’t know what it would be, I was musing on owning a 9mm pistol (like say the CZ-75) or a M-1 Garand (if I find a place to shoot outdoors on longer ranges the historical WW-II resonances of the US WW-II standard rifle would be kind of neat).

  5. part 1

    1. The purpose of an ‘internal’ serial number would apply when you have a gun discovered at a crime scene or on a criminal who scratched it off. You’d be able to pick up the serial number and trace back how that gun came to be provided to the criminal.

    2. I’m thinking of a ballistics database for cases where you recover bullets but not guns from crime scenes.

    3. True but that’s a simplistic way to come up with a premium. A more profitable way would be to charge less than $10/$100 to people who are lower risk and more than $10/$100 to those that are higher risk.

    4. I would imagine both would like to get rid of it.

    5. Probably nothing, existing guns would have to be grandfathered exempt I’d imagine.

    Part 2

    1. No it doesn’t exist, but it’s a concern among gun rights types (note how even the health law had a provision added to state no gun databases would be made). An attempt to create a compromise bill that would get both sides on board has to address both sides’ concerns, even if we think they may not be valid.

    2. Possibly, don’t know much about it.

    3. Interstate commerce would mean its constitutional. Congress could pass a law allowing people to buy and sell guns and the states couldn’t infringe upon that.

    4. So what? As you point out the insurance would be pretty cheap for any halfway responsible person.

    I have seen zero (!) suggestions made in the post Newtown shooting period by the anti-gun crowd that would have prevented the shooting. Which is regrettable for the anti-gun crowd.

    Why should this be a goal? I think it would dramatically cut into many gun crimes and accidents while at the same time only offering minimal hurdles for a responsible gun hobbyist (possibly even removing some hurdles for them).

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