What should America’s gun control policy look like?

Posted: May 20, 2013 in Issues, politics
Tags: ,


Answer by Brian Browne Walker:

Before I answer this, I'll preface it with something I wrote the other day in The Best Thing I've Read on Gun Control Since the Newtown Massacre (which I recommend to everyone):

I post this, fwiw, as a man raised as the son of a Marine Corps fighter pilot; as one who held guns in his hand as early and as often as I held footballs and basketballs; as one who became a skilled hunter and disciplined competitor at target shooting when I was still in elementary school; as one who has hunted for food duck, quail, pheasant, goose, deer, boar, elk, caribou, moose, alligator, and bear; as one who can to this day easily field strip, clean, and reassemble in the dark any of several dozen firearms; as one who loves well-engineered guns just as I love well-engineered cars, bicycles, and electronics; and as one who has renounced the ownership of handguns because I believe them to be, in almost every application, weapons of evil.

And I post it as a bigger lover of children, and of schoolteachers, than I am of anything ever engineered from steel.

“I got a job teaching first grade in Newtown!”

So, with my love for the smell of cordite in the morning duly recorded alongside my love for Victoria Soto, may she rest in peace and never be forgotten:

  1. No handguns, no exceptions. Shooting someone with a handgun is like giving someone the finger: you flick a hand at them with the intent to dismiss, degrade, or devastate. It's constantly modeled and has been for millenia in entertainment, at every intersection, everywhere you look. It's just too easy. Worse, they're too simple to stow under a seat, conceal under a coat, grab in a heated moment. It takes a whole other level of commitment to pick up a long gun and aim it at someone — or oneself — and they're harder to hide coming up the sidewalk toward a school. Possess a handgun, go to prison for a year; commit a crime with one, go to prison for a very long time.
  2. No assault weapons. That list of creatures above? I killed exactly one of those with an assault weapon (alligator, Ruger Mini-14). It was a one shot kill and I didn't need the magazine. I just happened to own the rifle at the time; I was 22. No self-respecting hunter requires a 30-shot capacity to feed his family.
  3. Licensure (renewed annually), contingent upon initial training, and thereafter contingent upon demonstration of competency in shooting, gun maintenance, and security (renewed annually). People who want to use a lethal instrument for sporting or hunting purposes should be willing to pay for the privilege as one does for a hunting or fishing or flying license. Because the instrument is lethal, there should be rigorous training in the beginning. Competency with one's weapons, and condition of one's weapons, and the security of their storage conditions, should be demonstrated annually to a licensed examiner. My dad flew low, fast, and upside down over crowds for years —

    — and he was required: (a) To receive an annual medical exam of a level commensurate to the danger he was posing to people; (b) To annually demonstrate his proficiency in a flown exam before an FAA Aerobatic Competency Examiner; (c) To fly with a parachute which had to be repacked and legally tagged at least every 120 days; and (d) To fly an airplane whose entire airframe and powerplant was inspected in minute detail annually by an FAA-certified examiner. If you want to operate something that can take people's heads off, convince us regularly you're fit to do so and properly maintaining and securing your dangerous instruments.

  4. Hush about the 2nd Amendment and defending yourself against the tyrannical government, or agree to wear a dunce cap everywhere you go. First of all, no individual right was contemplated when the Constitution was written; please read this post if you're unclear about that. Second, who cares what was on Madison's mind? I don't. I don't live in Madison's world, I live in mine, as does my child. I don't want 240 year old science, I don't want 240 year old jurisprudence, and I don't want 240 year old public policy around things that have changed from this

    to this

    in 240 years. And crowing about taking on the guvmint should qualify you as the sort of mental midget who almost certainly should be kept away from the gun case. The government has, and has deployed, these.

    And these.

    And things akin to this.

    They have Narus devices and Bluffdale. And your Bushmaster and Glock are meaningless in the face of those. If you're too thick to understand that that ship has sailed and that you ain't a gunslinger in the O.K. Corral — and if you're too thick to respect the memory of the now countless Victoria Sotos of contemporary America, and to set aside your ego-exalting wonderwand for the actual women and children you're always jabbering about wanting to protect — you're probably not a great candidate for a gun license.

I respect the sovereignty of every person and their desire to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. At the same time, I don't believe that arming everyone is the answer. It's wholesale stupidity, and should be denounced accordingly.

This is anecdotal but it informs what I've written above: I've lived over a half a century with guns and gun loving friends in urban and rural settings from the South to Brooklyn to Alaska to Bangkok to Colorado to Barcelona to Miami to L.A. I've never personally known a single person who defended himself or herself from a criminal with a gun of any kind in that time, nor have I done so myself, though I have had firearms at hand more often than not.

In that time, however, I have received three phone calls about handgun suicides, had my best friend confess me to me that he cocked and nearly touched off a .357 Magnum that was aimed at a shadowy figure to which he awoke in his bedroom before he registered it as his mother closing windows against a storm, and read of more Columbines, Virginia Techs, and Newtowns than I can now bear to recount. I've seen a lot of close-up police photos from those rooms, too, and I will spare you those.

I love beautifully engineered guns, I hunt, I smith guns, I play at what a friend of mine calls "long range, high velocity archery" with Swiss rifles that cost more than some people's cars. And I still don't believe we need a populace strapped with Glocks, riot shotguns, and collapsible AR-15s. Because I'm rational. Because facts are facts, statistics are statistics, and children and schoolteachers are among the highest works of art there are.


EDIT: I'd like to add what I wrote in a comment elsewhere about anti gun control answers that say, "This is not the time to talk about this, everything that's humanly possible is already being done, let us not disturb the sacred memory of old John Adams!": I'll give you her email address if you'd like to tell that to Victoria Soto's mother Donna.

I'll put you in touch with her sisters Carlee and Jillian and her brother Carlos, too, if you want to run that smack up the flagpole in front of them and see if they put their hands over their permanently shattered hearts and salute:

I can give you the email addresses for the parents of Charlotte Bacon if you'd like to engage them in some "Now's not the time, nothing can be done!" handwringing.

Tell Charlotte's family that outlawing, buying back, and enacting stiff sentences for handgun possession won't stop the next Adam Lanza from approaching an elementary school with four handguns and a bunch of high-cap mags in his backpack. Tell them his mother, an otherwise law-abiding citizen, would've had handguns all over the place in a country with laws like those. Tell them your "ideas" and "answers" and the imagined authority of some gentlemen dead for two centuries trumps the lives of their loved ones.

View Answer on Quora

  1. lwk2431 says:

    “I respect the sovereignty of every person and their desire to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. At the same time, I don’t believe that arming everyone is the answer. It’s wholesale stupidity, and should be denounced accordingly.”

    Idiots like you should be denounced accordingly. One is not “sovereign” if they are forced to be defenseless against criminal, violent, and psychotic people. The fact that you “don’t believe arming” responsible people just shows you are not governed by facts, logic, or reality.


    • Jonathan says:

      One is not “sovereign” if they are forced to be defenseless against criminal, violent, and psychotic people. The fact that you “don’t believe arming” responsible people just shows you are not governed by facts, logic, or reality.

      1. Um, what happened to pepper spray, tasers, and an assortment of other non-lethal self-defense tools?
      2. Where were the “responsible people” at Sandy Hook, ViginiaTech, Columbine etc? Or are you going to argue that NOT ENOUGH people own guns? Maybe the government should issue guns out to every able bodied citizen for free? At least that way we can BE SURE THAT WE ARE NOT DEFENSELESS?
      3. Wouldn’t it be a lot harder for criminal, violent, and psychotic people to kill a whole lot of people if they had no access to guns?
      4. Fact: Guns are not used for personal protection in South Korea, and are never kept on the person unless they were off hunting. Deaths by firearms in South Korea stood at 16 in 2010, compared to 18 in 2006, 12 in 2007, 17 in 2008 and 10 in 2009 Source – Korea Times
      5. Fact: 67% of the 16,272 murders in the US in 2008 were committed with firearms (FBI)
      6. Logic: self defense is the typical canned argument for proponents of gun ownership but is largely left unexplained. Understandable considering that rational reasoning doesn’t often work well with hot heads and swearing.
      7. Logic: Your three sentence reply to a 1,300 word answer to a question asked on Quora shows that you have little to contribute in a debate “governed by facts, logic, or reality.”
      8. Reality: I won’t allow further profanity and name calling on my blog. My blog, my rules. If you have something useful to say, censor yourself. Otherwise don’t expect me to approve your further comments.
  2. Dayton says:

    Hi Jonathan. I have a question. Do you really think outlawing guns will solve gun murder issues? Outlawing murder doesn’t stop people from murdering. The same goes for any crime. Outlawing guns only serves to take them from law-abiding citizens who could use them properly. I reccommend the book ‘Gun Control On Trial.’ Thanks for posting!

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Dayton, thanks for your comment! I think that outlawing firearms will make it a lot harder for criminals and mentally ill people from killing people. Sure, people will find other ways to kill each other, but it’s a lot harder to go on a killing spree armed with just a hammer.

      Thanks for the book suggestion, but I need to arm myself for spiritual warfare now. So I’ll put that on my to do list for a rainy day. 😉

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