Everyone is aware of the fact that America has lax gun control laws, and unfortunately, we see the results of this too often. Many are the parents who rally for better gun control laws, but do they know what that means? Have they thought about how that might be implemented? While we were on the bus coming home after Shabbat last week, I put some thought into the issue and then started discussing it with Yitzchak. Here, I write about a few of the possible issues that may come up.
Let’s say that starting from tomorrow, no one can buy a gun without a license. This means that there is a consolidated database (which there isn’t), that goes by social security number, and you would have to register the gun not only under your name, but also under your social security number, and it would be illegal to resell the gun privately. All providers would have to be licensed, and preferably have security guards to prevent fraud, theft, and threats. Suffice it to say, just convincing Americans to make such a consolidated database will be extraordinarily difficult, with most complaining that Uncle Sam has no right to know any private information on them.
Then, we have to deal with the black market. The black market solves the problem of those who already have guns, being able to buy more ammunition, even if they are not licensed. Now, let’s say we’ve reached the point of nobody being able to buy guns or ammunition, except on the black market. That’s very nice, but the black market is in many ways worse than the open market. What are we going to do? Well, the solution would be to crack down on it. How? The main strategy would obviously be controlling imports; however, some ammunition can be bought locally, some will be stolen, and some can (unfortunately) be made at home. So, this doesn’t solve the entire issue.
But we haven’t yet dealt with the fact that even if no one can buy new guns or ammunition (which, as I wrote above, is not something that can happen tomorrow, without major changes to American mindset), we still have the big problem of existing gun owners, who have ammunition. What do we do with them? Do we even know who they are? In many cases, yes, we do know who they are. But in about 5% (and don’t quote the number, because it’s Yitzchak’s estimate) of cases, we don’t. And in my opinion, those 5% are probably the most dangerous of all gun owners. If 5% sounds small, think about it this way: It means at least two million people have guns, and we don’t know who they are or that they have guns.
Let’s talk about the other 95%. According to Yitzchak, most gun owners live in perpetual fear that someone will come in one day to take away their guns, and therefore, they make sure to divert media attention from guns to mental illness, as well as protect and hide their guns (but not enough, as is indicated by the fact that sometimes guns get into the wrong hands, even though the owner bought it legally). Back to the topic. How do we round up the guns that we are aware of, and possibly those that we are not aware of? The only real answer is to go door-to-door. But there is an issue: In today’s world of WhatsDown, Fakebook, and text messages, it’s pretty easy to tell your friend that your gun was taken away, and then your friend can hide his, or stash it with someone whose house was already searched – or, of course, just hide it somewhere else. That’s without getting into the issue that we are talking about guns, and therefore, those who are rounding them up are in possible danger. Plus, if Americans don’t want a database for healthcare or gun control, why would they agree to have their houses searched, even in the interests of preventing school shootings? Not likely to go over well, huh?
Of course, there is a solution: Turn off all the electricity in the country, down all cellphone towers, and search the entire country at once. But, we don’t have enough manpower for that, and the moment we would try, people would suspect that something is up. In short, unfortunately, better gun control laws in America are not something that seems possible in the forseeable future. How it got that way, and how we could – theoretically – allow only sane, safe people to own guns, are topics for a different post, if you are interested.