On Guns (Campaign Post, Policy)

I admit guns aren’t an issue I’ve been eager to touch too much – but it’s on people’s minds, and it also represents one of the strong disagreements I hold with my Democratic opponent.

The Democrat running in my race supports raising the minimum age of gun ownership to 21. This is a suggestion which had gained traction in the wake of the Parkland shootings in Florida, supported by none other than NRA-funded politicians like Marco Rubio. Not only is this age arbitrary (it actually traces its roots in law to the age of chivalry, with theories suggesting it originally corresponded to ability to lift a sword and move in heavy armor), I believe the suggestion is wildly unconstitutional. By restricting major adults from their right to bear arms, the proposal denies them basic constitutional rights which come with reaching age of majority – the age of majority now being 18 in most of the US. This is worse than regulating specific kinds of guns, because rather than going after the guns (and risking the greater ire of arms manufacturers) it goes after people and entirely disarms a segment of the adult population in spite of their rights.

Not only this, but as a remedy for mass shootings it is nonsense. The deadliest mass shootings in America were almost all committed by people older than 21 – Las Vegas 2017 (59 people killed by a 64-year-old man), Orlando 2016 (50 killed by a 29-year-old man), VA Tech 2007 (33 casualties in a school shooting nevertheless committed by a 23-year-old man), Sutherland Springs 2017 (27 killed by a 26-year-old man), the Luby’s shooting, the McDonald’s massacre, the 1966 University of Texas tower shooting, San Bernadino, the Edmond Post shooting, Binghamton, Fort Hood, Camden, Wilkes-Barre, the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, the 1999 Atlanta mass shooting, the 2014 Isla-Vista University of California shootings, the 2015 Charleston Church shooting, etc.

Not only were all of these horrible massacres committed by people over 21, a fair number of them were committed by people over 30. The instances in which mass shootings are committed by people under 21 are the exceptions. And even among those cases, some things stand out to me – Adam Lanza was 20 years old when he shot up Sandy Hook elementary in 2012, but he would have been 21 in 4 months. He killed his mother and shot 20 little children in a planned spree – is that just something people do normally until they’re old enough to drink?

Raising the age of gun ownership would be unconstitutional, incredibly ineffective, and cut off young adults going into arms from yet another sector of the jobs market. It would also constitute a demographic disarmament – I believe this is part of why it appeals so much to people like Rubio, NRA-backed politicians who young people blamed for the deaths occurring in sprees like Parkland. The policy of raising the age of ownership kills two birds with one stone – it bears the appearance of answering calls for gun regulation while also disarming the exact same people who were getting angrier and angrier at the corrupt political class. It’s actually a really impressive display of what a man can do without a spine.

But that’s their policy – I’ve been working on my own. I’m open to ideas so long as they aren’t violating the 2nd amendment, but here are the basics of what I think we should be doing:

  • Keep all currently legal arms legal, but impose actual oversight of existing regulations regarding sales and background checks. If the rules aren’t being enforced, we can’t just pile more rules on top to not enforce. If gun sellers don’t like it, that should not matter – it’s an issue of public safety.
  • Probably expand background checks and mental health checks.
  • I don’t believe in banning semi-automatics. I don’t have any confidence in this government’s motives to do it should they make the attempt, and I cannot trust future US governments to do this without malicious intent. However, there should be safeguards which make it more difficult to purchase semi-automatics. The only real practical use for this type of weapon is in militias to defend the country from internal or external tyranny.
    I advocate a policy of imposing trial periods for this sort of weapon – a period of 1-2 months, maybe longer, during which an individual seeking to purchase a semi-automatic arm would be given a trackable version of the weapon and required to fulfill certain deadlines, training, and safety procedures in addition to basic background checks. At the end of their trial period, they would get be able to get the actual weapon provided they completed all the requirements specific to that class of weapons. This would discourage recreational purchase of these weapons as well as allowing for a wider window during which to ensure that the person buying the weapon was reputable and stable.

These policies may be subject to change – I welcome feedback, especially if you know more than I do about existing procedures and can correct any wrong assumptions I may have made.

I’ll add that I believe that the idea of guns for the purpose of every day self-defense is largely a con to sell guns – for the most vulnerable members of society, they are not effective in this respect. When I was 5, my grandmother was killed with her own in a robbery which probably would not have been fatal had she not gone for it. Guns provide a false sense of security for the vulnerable, a poor substitute for the protection which strong communities can provide to their most at-risk members. But they are still the weapon with which wars are fought and from which power is derived – all citizens must have access to them in order to have any power over their armed government. Giving up the 2nd amendment and allowing the government further monopoly of force is not an option.