Simple Solutions for Firearm Policy

Heartbreaking seems like too small of a word to encompass what happened in Newtown, CT, last Friday.  I cannot imagine the grief that those families are going through.  I don’t know what it would feel like to get that phone call, to wait at that fire station, to experience true chaos.  I do know that what happened in Newtown – and in Aurora, and Columbine, and Fort Hood, and the Wisconsin temple, and the Oregon mall – is the result of a massive failure of public policy.

The gun debate isn’t new.  There are common-sense solutions here – solutions that no congressman or president will pursue.  It’s not because they don’t know what the solutions are – because those aren’t new, either, and we’ll get to them in a minute.  This is negligence as a result of greed:  the institutional left pays big bucks to politicians who promise to ban all sorts of weapons, and the NRA pays off politicians in exchange for policies favorable to gun manufacturers.  That’s why we’re being told that our policy options are either unregulated guns (NRA), or no legal guns at all (the institutional Left).  Under either one of these options, criminals would still have guns.  At least the NRA option allows law-abiding citizens to keep them, too.

Meanwhile, nobody is lobbying for common sense. Nobody should have to.  The generation that’s been in charge for the past 40 years has completely failed us by creating a culture that refuses to recognize when someone has a real problem, destroying the fledgling mental health care system that we had, and bankrupting the country so that we can’t afford to pay for a solution.

The same generation that’s been presiding over this mess is the one that raised its kids to think they were all special little snowflakes.  And special little snowflakes can’t be wrong, they can only be different, and you must be one awful teacher/administrator/doctor if you try to change the behavior of a kid who’s just different.  Our parents raised the “don’t judge” generation.  We wonder how it could possibly be that nobody stopped a killer before he started.  Maybe it’s because we “don’t judge” even when we should.  While the blame for this tragedy falls on the shooter alone – and on no one else – those 27 victims might still be here if someone, anyone, had been able to get him in treatment before last Friday.

The past few decades have seen closing after closing of mental hospitals, making the mentally ill homeless and making our cities and towns less safe.  The effects of this backward policy are written on our national psyche:  We all know to “see something, say something” for a suspicious duffel bag in a train station, but we have no idea where to go or who to talk to about a suspicious living, breathing human being.  We’re profiling items instead of people – just like the TSA does when it takes our water bottles but rarely ever catches a terrorist.  This strategy is weak, expensive, and dangerous to society.

Maybe one day, we’ll teach everyone how to recognize the signs of mental illness as simply and as often as we teach “stop drop and roll.”  Maybe we’ll have a mental health emergency number as well-known as 9-1-1, that would send trained professionals to intervene when a child or a partner or a student has gone beyond anger and has become something worse.  If our elected leadership had been doing its job and we had any money left in the treasury, a program like this could be a really great way to spend some of it.

What if we regulated guns like we regulate prescription drugs?  An examination is required for you to get them, you are not permitted to have a huge stockpile, and it’s illegal for you to allow anyone else to use them.  Just like you have to pass a basic car safety test at the DMV, a similar test for prospective gun owners is probably a good idea.  A knowledge quiz only impedes on someone’s freedom only as much as that person is unwilling to learn the topic being tested.  You pass that examination, you want a gun for sport or self-defense, you can get that gun.  You can take it home because society trusts you to use it properly (and if you don’t, you’re likely only harming yourself, and since you passed the exam, we have a reasonable expectation that you won’t want to self-harm).

To continue with the prescription drug metaphor, we all know that there are some drugs so strong that if you need them; they can only be administered in a hospital or an otherwise licensed facility.  No doctor would send you home with an IV bag full of morphine, he keeps you in a place where – even when you can control your own dosage with a pain pump – you’re under supervision just in case something goes wrong.  Machine guns are the “morphine” of guns: the very strongest and most dangerous of the bunch.  So what if we adopted the same strategy for the most powerful guns as we do with the most powerful drugs?

You’re still allowed to own that machine gun.  It’s yours, for only you to use.  But you have to keep it in a locker in a licensed facility.  You can’t take it home, sure – but you own it exclusively, and it’s not like you have any reason to want to take a machine gun home (you can keep a less powerful gun there) or out into the world (because what would you be using it fr there?). When you travel, you can have that gun shipped to the nearest licensed facility.  This is fairly similar to the locker system that most country clubs have for golf clubs.  And if there’s one thing our elected officials can agree on, it’s a system that mirrors one at a country club.

There is no money, no lobby, pushing this idea right now.  However, it has huge potential for free enterprise to swoop in and make money by increasing firearm safety.  Someone has to own and manage the shooting range, someone needs to develop a bulletproof method of locker security, someone has to oversee the shipping of guns from one facility to another.  Each “someone” here is another job created, another person working to make sure that guns don’t cause undue harm.  We can gain jobs and safety without ever having to give up a gun.

We can debate the merits and faults of gun control for years (as we have been), but we cannot escape the truth that government cannot possibly control which private citizens own which types of guns.  It can’t even control its own guns (see: Fast and Furious).  The government will never be able to control its own people, either – not that we would even want that, anyway.  But through a combination of sensible gun policy and increased access to mental health care, we can stop things like the Sandy Hook tragedy from happening again.

Angela Morabito | @_AngelaMorabito

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12 Responses

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  1. Tionico
    Dec 26, 2012 - 08:30 PM

    What if we regulated guns like we regulate prescription drugs? An examination is required for you to get them, you are not permitted to have a huge stockpile, and it’s illegal for you to allow anyone else to use them.

    remember, the Second Ammendment states that our pre-existing right to arms “shall not be infringed” Your plan seriously infringes upon this right, therefore is not acceptable. WHO gets to decide which are “OK” to carry about upon their persons, keep in their homes, etc, lethal weapons? On what basis must they decide? What means of safety will assure accuracy? Who was that former military manb who recently was committed to a mental institution for posting certain thigns on Facebook to which the government took strong exception? He was involunterily committed for simply expressing his opinion publically. It took a public outcry to bring this before civil magistrates who, upon esamination of the “evidence”, ordered him released, all charges dismissed. What, in your plan, will prevent the abuse of thos power in precisely the same manner as Adam Lanza abused his own liberty? The problem with government taking upon itself such authority is government have a way of abusing such authority. Read your history for proof.

    Fact is, the very prescription drugs after which you pattern your proposed “common sense” regulations are so badly abused… seems lawfully prescribed medications cause more deaths in the US than do firearms on an annual basis. Further, the majoroty of those who have committed mass shootings from Columbine onward had been taking lawfully prescribed psychotropic medications… mind and mood altering powerful drugs often prescribed for ADHD and such…. thus guy was, so was the Aurura Cinemark shooter, at least one of the Columbine shooters.. these drugs have NOT been properly tested, their known side effects include suicidal tendencies, violence, and other forms of nasty behaviour. Perhaps you’d consider researching the mass shootings and the involvement of such drugs.. seems the “mprofessionals” are lackingn in effective management of those drugs.. what hope can you ofer the “professionals” managing the “prescription” of firearms will be any more accurete?

    An excellent site for in depth analysis and a resource for raw data regarding firearms and crime is the JPFO dot org. Before writing more on the sugject of gun regulations, I’d recommend you spend some time bringing yourself up to speed on some cold, hard facts….. you will be shocked at how little truth is available to us through our usual media sources. Carry on, you’ve a good head on your shouldera, and a heart to bring sanity to the table. Back that up with a functional grasp of the underlying facts and you may well make a much needed impact.

  2. mercer
    Dec 26, 2012 - 04:07 PM

    Please note there are glaring fundamental errors in your facts and premises and hence your thoughts as printed. While one would applaud your effort and interest, perhaps you should research your subject further. An uninformed opinion is just that or worse. Lastly and most suspect is the premise that a “sensible’ gun and mental health policy will stop events like the current and past insanity in public shootings. “Policy” in the form of rules of law, is only to be effective on the law abiding. Evil, and the insane, have no regard for the law, no matter the form of law, nor the number of laws. I might add here that medication “policies” may be playing a significant part as a protagonist in the current problem. No insane actions or evil acts will ever be regulated by policies. Would submit for your further thought and study that to attempt such, is both the ultimate foolery and the epitome of insanity. Please do not mistake this line of reason as a condemnation of policy and law. As well, never mistake evil or insanity to be subject to policy either. There will be no simple answers here….. only wise ones.

  3. Mark
    Dec 26, 2012 - 03:33 PM

    Ms. Morabito:

    Nice article. In your defense, you did not say that the institutional left was trying to ban all firearms, but “all SORTS of weapons” (my emphasis). First will be an “assault weapons” ban. What will happen when a deranged individual takes a single shot shotgun into a school, locks the doors and proceeds to murder children? A ban on shotguns is the answer. What’s next after that? Whatever is used to murder.

    What they will not talk about is committing potentially violent persons to mental facilities, because that will violate their “constitutional rights”. What about the same constitutional rights to be able to keep and bear arms?

    Keep up the good work. When people complain about what you write, you know that you are making them encomfortable in their own beliefs.

  4. Chris Rushlau
    Dec 19, 2012 - 07:42 PM

    A good example of snowflake ideology is the state of Israel. Exceptionalism to the point that brutal aggression is justified as defensive in nature.
    That influence, all across and up and down the US political system, makes paranoia about our own government rational.
    The victims and survivors of the Newtown shootins also experienced what people experience when the US/Israeli anti-terror machine gets hold of them. One minute you’re walking along, the next minute you’re hamburger. It’s individuals targeted by guided munitions and it’s also vast regions targeted by sanctions.
    Out of this all should come a moral “wising-up” in the US public and its elite. There is no apparatus that reads a person’s evil quotient. There are only obvious flaws that any person can see, such as our special relationship with Israel and Israel’s repugnance for the equal-protection and separation-of-church-and-state means we use here for personal and heritage security. Those are the things that should be shouted out from the rooftops. When they aren’t, people are right to be very doubtful about politics as usual.
    When we overlook the obvious, we earn the results.

  5. A. R. Sheldon
    Dec 19, 2012 - 05:57 PM

    Ms. Morabito,

    A well written piece; however, some constructive criticism is in order.

    Regarding your broad-brush portrayal that the “institutional left” wants a complete ban on guns, and your assertion that no one is looking at common sense solutions to gun control in this country – you are completely wrong.

    For example, consider what Senators’ Feinstein, Schumer, and others have been attempting for more than 20 years:

    “In 1993, Feinstein, along with then-Representative Charles Schumer (D-NY), led the fight to ban many semi-automatic firearms and restrict the sale of firearm magazines deemed assault weapons. The ban was passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. In 2004, when the ban was set to expire, Feinstein sponsored a 10-year extension of the ban as an amendment to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; while the amendment was successfully added, the act itself failed.[24] The act was then revived in 2005, and, despite Feinstein’s best efforts, was passed without an extension of the assault weapons ban.”

    It has been, in fact, the institutional right which has derailed, time and again, any common sense approach to controlling assault-style weapons in the United States over the past several decades.

    Also, your overly inclusive declaration that “The same generation that’s been presiding over this mess is the one that raised its kids to think they were all special little snowflakes” does little to help your argument, predominantly because it’s not true, and because it places readers subjectively (and against their will) into arbitrary groups – when, in fact, we all like to think that we can make up our own minds, (thank you very much).

    In fact, it is these types of statements – too sweeping and generalized – that tend to put-off readers who might otherwise continue reading your essay with an open mind.

    On the other hand, your metaphor comparing how our nation handles prescription drugs versus how we deal with gun control was very well put. Unlike the examples mentioned above, these types of rhetorical devices actually do work well; in both keeping your argument focused and to the point, as well as by offering a new perspective that is not based on the typical boiler-plate responses that readers are tired of seeing – either from conservative or liberal pundits, equally.

    In your future writings (and I do hope you continue to write) please consider:

    1.) Fact-checking your assertions before making a claim (e.g., the left wants no guns at all) and,

    2.) Eliminating overly-broad statements that mimic an ideological position (e.g., the two example noted above)

    If polemics’ (of every persuasion) can include these two simple rules in our public discourse, we’ll stand a much better chance as a nation to move forward, rather than remaining stuck in the ideological ruts that we continue to dig for ourselves.

    • Angela Morabito
      Dec 20, 2012 - 07:16 PM


      Thank you for your comment and your helpful critique. I absolutely and going to continue writing – and I’m working on figuring out how to discuss demographic trends without painting with too broad a brush, like you mentioned. I would contest your claim that the Left is advocating for common sense and that the Right is the Bad Guys – you make a valid point about Feinstein and Schumer, but they do not represent the cultural Left (Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow, etc) who have gone so far as to villainize gun owners. This is something I should have researched and linked to in the article – and something I’ve learned from you and will do next time!


      • Trilby
        Dec 21, 2012 - 08:02 PM

        Were you previously unaware that making baseless claims was not ideal?

        You seem to have retracted your first claim made with zero evidence (“the institutional left wants to ban all firearms” nonsense), but just replace it with a new unsupported argument. How have Rachel Maddow or Michael Moore villainized gun owners? Do you have any evidence or is this like your last claim about banning guns? And arguing in favor of over stronger gun laws is not the same as villainizing gun owners.

        You also just state a conclusion that the left is not pursuing common sense regulations and the right is generally not the bad guys- but also provide zero evidence. The left is absolutely is interested in pursuing sensible regulations (waiting periods, universal background check, stronger mental health safety nets, etc) and virtually all Republicans in Congress oppose such common sense laws. I can present actual evidence for this- see the Democratic Party’s platform from the 2012 national convention (and previous conventions) and compare it to the Republicans. One favors sensible gun regulation, one does not.

      • Matthew
        Dec 28, 2012 - 04:19 AM


        That was a bad idea, responding to that person.

        Fact of the matter is, Feinstein and company consistently respond to things like Sandy Hook by trying to get laws passed that are designed to keep firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, a clear and absolute violation of our Constitutional rights. In short, A. R. Sheldon is a liar.

    • Tionico
      Dec 26, 2012 - 08:14 PM

      funny thing about the “assault” weapons ban and your attempt to make that seem “common sense”…… statistically, the use of lawfully possessed “assault weapons” in large-scale killings show it is has happend as often as the use of the common carpenter’s claw hammer…. in precisely ONE incident since, and including, the Columbine massacre. FBI statistics also bear out the FACT that “assault” weapons have been used in something like three percent of violennt crimes nationwide. What is the most commonly used? The venerable, simple, low capacity six-shot revolver. In something like one third of all crimes involving firearms. SO, why the mass hysteria against “assault” weapons? Pointless. Not statistically relevant. Straw man, actually… so much energy has been focused upon what is rightly referred to as the “Modern Sporting Rifle” (“assault weapon” is a term manufactured by the media.. it SOUNDS to scary and nasty to an uninformed public). Reality is this class of firearms is weak, short range, has little downrange impact…. a shotgun or hunting rifle (most states forbid the use of the round used in Bushmasters, AR-15’s, others in this class( for the taking of deer, it is too feeble a round) delivers far more range, accuracy, knockdown power. Interesting, these are not commonly used in crimes.

      Common sense gun regulations? Consider the number of them already in place that were violated in EVERY mass shooting since Columbine…. in nearly every incident, multiple felony violations were committed for the killer to perpetrate his crime. Get real for a moment… here’s Lanze, having already killed his Mother and stolen her firearms (five felony counts right there, and two more fur underage possession of a concealed handgun without a permit), steals her car (another flony), drives to the “Federal Gun Free School Zone” in possession of four firearms (four MORE felonies), enters a school building with the obvious intent (after all, he DID carry out his obvious intent) to kill.. four MORE felony counts.. transporting firearm with the intent of use in commission of a felony). What’s that, now, a total of some fifteen or twenty felony firearms violations? There is one problem with “more commonsense gun laws”….. the ones we already have DO NOT WORK..

      Wayne La Pierre, in his address concerning the school shooting, got one thing right.. the most effective way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. since we, as a culture, have chosen to allow the likes of Lanza to roam about at will, ticking time bombs, most of them on psychotropic drugs of some sort or other, the ONLY way to minimise their crimes of opportunity is for a large number of law abiding citizens to carry our own means of neutralising such as are intent on criminal conduct. Imagine, if you will, how differently things would have played out in Newtown had the teacher in the first classroom he entered been lawfully armed and presented her handgin to the intruder? Likely, without even firing a shot he’d have ceased his intended mayhem. Worst case, she could have fired and missed…. or perhaps only wounded him. In any case, he’d be well aware, instantly, that he is up against a force equal to his own. SHE is now in Mama Bear Mode, he will likely abandon his intended actions. Far more likely, however, if it were common policy that teachers, janitors, parents, principals, administrators, passersby, were lawfully armed in and around the schools (just millions of us now are at the bank, grocery store, library, Starbucks, Best Buy, Shari’s, the gas station, city parks, county offices, city hall…. how many mass shootings have taken place in ANY such places? Maybe a few banks… seems money is the draw there. But a fair number of bank robberies have been ended by a private citizen with their own handgun.

      In case you are curious, yes I am legally able, and do, carry a handgun nearly everywhere I go, including all of the above mentioned places.. in short, everywhere YOU go, I go armed. How many have ever been aware I have been so armed> One time, a fourteen year old kid, one of a group with which I was playing soccer, happened totice my tee shirt come up and over my waist-carried handgun, revealing part of it briefly. He later quietly came up to me and asked “hey, whatchya packin these days?” If it were legal for him (he’s underage) he’d be carrying himself… and more safely so than many adults. You want to talk common sense, lets talk common sense.

  6. Trilby
    Dec 19, 2012 - 03:59 PM

    I’m sorry- but who on the institutional left is calling for a ban on all firearms? What organization? Can you name one member of Congress who embraces that position? I just think your basis for your argument is not based on reality.

    The main organizations dealing with gun control all are asking for common sense solutions, but none are calling for a prohibition on all weapons. Look at the Brady Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Weapons, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. The Democratic Party certainly doesn’t embrace such a position, and not even the truly progressive party, the Green Party, or their 2012 nominee agrees with it!

    Virtually every major figure and institution on the left is calling for sensible gun regulation. (I only say “virtually” because although I know of no one or no group that wants a total ban on firearms, there may be some I don’t know about). The reality seems to be much more that the left would like to enact common sense gun regulations but #1 they don’t have the votes in the House without GOP votes, and #2 even if they did, politicians on both sides of the aisle are afraid of the NRA and it’s 4.3 million members. It is one of the most feared special interests in Washington, which makes sense as it has more members than Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International, Sierra Club, and the ACLU combined.

    Your assertion that the institutional left wants to ban firearms is perplexing, and I have no idea how you believe that is part of why we have no sensible gun regulation.

    • Tionico
      Dec 26, 2012 - 07:48 PM

      sorry, Trilby, but check your history. Pelosi, Feinstein, Clinton )the Hillary version), have ALL come out publically in favor of repealing the Second Ammendment, and confiscting ALL firearms. Mayors against Illegal (I have to laugh every time I see that “illegal” qualifier) Guns wants them all… just like their predecessor New York Mayor Tim Sullivan wanted them all… except for HIS team of gangters. The Breay bnunch also want them all. Same with groups like Washington Cease Fire, a state group, and California is host to its own equally wacky group, an assembly of lawyers who want to eliminate all firearms from their state. Don’t be fooled,,, there are many who want ALL firearms removed from the United States of America… or, at least, the private citizens thereof. Check your history and see what has happened to EVERY people group that was ever disarmed…. Jews in Nazi Germany, Armenians in Turkey (1914 or so), China, Russia, even presently in Mexico, where the laws disarm civilians but OUR government is arming the Cartels who kill them at will. Gun control is not about guns, it is about people control. Wake up before its too late.

      • Cruffler
        Dec 27, 2012 - 03:08 PM

        Tionico: Bravo…Liberals never refer to the historic record of countries who enact gun control laws. They don’t like to stare the truth in the face.

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