There is no way this post will make any impact, the lines in the sand are drawn and emotions run high regarding gun ownership in the USA. I am a firm believer in private gun ownership, a former NRA member and a former firearms dealer in Arizona. Still the slaughter in Connecticut has given me pause for reflection.
The placement of a comma in the Second amendment in the US Bill of Rights makes for a very strong argument for legal, unrestricted gun ownership in the USA.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The counter argument is that “the right of the people to keep and bare arms” is a dependent clause, tied to the well regulated militia, todays National Guard.
Regardless of the comma, it is time for some debate over how that right might be granted more intelligently than today. According the a Gallup poll US gun ownership is in decline.
That conflicts with FBI numbers on background checks, which show only sales through licensed dealers, not the vast number of resales.
In either event there are hundreds of millions of guns in the US in civilian hands. In my opinion private gun ownership is a good thing. It helps to keep a government under control when it has a genuine concern that an armed population might take things into their own hands. I have little trust for any government to care about it’s people.
Still the crazies get guns and slaughter people, adults and now children. Where is the balance between sane gun ownership and insane people having guns. I actually think Panama has a reasonable balance, as usual on paper not in reality.
In Panama the law says permanent residents may buy guns and carry concealed weapons. They must be licensed and the gun registered to them. Each person needs to do the following to get a license and renew it every five years.
1. A Psychological Exam
2. Submit a urine sample for drug testing
3. A DNA sample for possible future identification
4. Finger Prints
5. A bullet exemplar for future comparison
6. 25 hours of range practice
On paper, this restricts gun ownership to those who are legal residents, were sane at the time of purchase, were not on drugs at the time of purchase and allows followup to identify legal weapons used illegally.
If you added some fiscal accountability to victims of gun related crimes tied to the registered owner Panama might have an example for the US.
Owning a gun is like owning a car, it is a tool. Both are potentially dangerous and like driving a car a gun owner should be licensed and tested to demonstrate responsibility. Resales should be restricted to dealers who need to be sure the new owner passes over the same hurdles.
This will not unduly burden lawful gun owners. In Arizona I had to take classes to get a concealed weapons permit, it was not burdensome and I had learn gun safety. This might prevent some, but not all, of the tragedies that seem too occur too often in the US today.