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Gun Rights and Responsibilities

March 21, 2014

    This essay is going to be about gun control and I should point out at the start that, as a US citizen, I do believe that the second amendment should be repealed.  This essay is not about that belief but I feel that it is important to mention.  More important than that, I believe in democracy and enough of my compatriots disagree with me on this that repeal should never the less not be done.  I also think that there should be no legislation or actions passed or taken in the United States that are inconsistent with second amendment as interpreted by the courts unless it is repealed.  I am not expert enough or educated enough to talk about the second amendment as law as it exists today or to speak to court interpretation.

    I believe what I do advocate in this essay is consistent with the second amendment as it has been interpreted and most of the arguments that I have encountered advocating for a right to bear arms.  What I am advocating for is for every firearm to be sold, new or resold through more established outlets, should be registered and fingerprinted and for those legally able to purchase firearms to be required to be licensed.  I believe this would respect the individual’s right to possess and use firearms while increasing the responsibility of those who chose to do so.  I think both firearm registration and licensing should be done on the state level.

    It is my contention that every right also has at-least one responsibility associated with it.  To use an absurd example, your right not to be killed by me puts a responsibility on me (and others) to not kill you.  Sometimes the right and the responsibility are put on the same person and sometimes they are not.  There is nothing wrong with this; this is merely how reality works.  As far as the right to possess weaponry goes, somebody who possesses a weapon for personal defense, hunting, group defense, or other purpose has a moral responsibility to have adequate training in his or her weapon for the purposes the weapon is possessed.  Someone who uses a weapon for a purpose without being able to use the weapon for that purpose responsibly puts responsibility on others for his or her irresponsible use.

    When a firearm is used in self-defense to kill somebody when a trained person would not have used the weapon in that matter, somebody dies because of somebody else’s reasonability.  When a firearm legally purchased is used to kill somebody by somebody other than the legal customer, somebody dies because of the irresponsibility of the legal customer.  If we, as a society, grant people in general the right to possess deadly weapons, we as a society also have a moral obligation to hold people responsible for how the weapons in their care are used.  This is where firearm registration applies.

    Each firearm and its unique identifiers should be registered to a specific individual.  It should not be illegal for someone other than this registered individual to possess or use the firearm but the registered user should bear some responsibility for any use of the particular firearm.  If the firearm was registered at time of sale to a particular person and then that firearm is then used in the crime, the registered individual bears some moral responsibility for how that firearm was used either through the individual’s use of the firearm, the use of someone the individual trusted, or through failure to keep the firearm secure from untrusted persons.  The registered individual should face requisite legal responsibility as well.

    The rights of people who possess firearms for individual or group defense or for hunting should be unaffected by this registration requirement.  People who possess a firearm for purposes of being able to engage in armed rebellion will have their rights affected by this registration requirement.  I claim that possessing a firearm for this purpose is such a huge reasonability that it is not unreasonable for groups of people to take it on together.  What is required would be for one individual to publicly vouch and be responsible for the firearms the group has access two.  If the group engages in rebellion, then one person’s identity would be known but not the rest of the group.

    A big effect of the registration requirement as posited above would have would be to make the work of straw purchases of firearms more difficult as the straw purchaser would bear legal reasonability for his or her purchase that he or she does not currently have.  This will make it harder and more expensive for people who are not legally able to own firearms to acquire them.  Another effect would be to make owners of firearms more legally responsible for their use and thus encourage firearm owners to make themselves more responsible for the firearms they purchase.

    The licensing requirement is to make the background system more robust and more efficient.  Instead of requiring a separate background check each time a firearm is purchased, each would be owner of a firearm would be required to undergo a rigorous background check once.  Somebody who sells a firearm would then only have to confirm that the person purchasing it is licensed which would both lower the expense of the transaction and effectively expand background checks to all purchases if there is a requirement that the person registering as an owner of a firearm be licensed to possess a firearm.  There could be provisions for the firearm license to be periodically reviewed and/or for automatic review when a criminal conviction or psychological hospitalization occurs.

    Along with the right for someone to possess a firearm there either exists a reasonability for that person to possess that firearm reasonability or everybody else is made responsible for that person’s irresponsible possession.  It is not right for one people to shift this responsibility onto others but this is something that happens in our society and it leads to death.  The above proposals seem to be reasonable proposals which have little effect on the right of firearm possession but would greatly increase the legal responsibility of those who chose to do so.

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From → Public Policy

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