Sunday, April 01, 2018

Guns for Self Defense Shouldn't Last Forever (And Maybe the Same for Ammo)

Kevin Drum lists the demands of the March For Our Lives:

Fund more gun violence research. We actually made a step in this direction when President Trump signed the 2018 budget, which clarifies that the 1996 Dickey Amendment doesn’t prohibit the CDC from conducting gun research.

Unleash the ATF. Let them store their background-check records on a computer, for example.

Universal background checks. In theory, everyone is in favor of this. In theory.

High-capacity magazine ban. This has long been my favorite. MFOL is calling for a 10-round limit. I’d make it six, myself.

Assault weapons ban. The gun folks are right when they say it’s tricky to define “assault weapon,” but it’s not actually impossible.
I agree with Kevin that more could be asked, so here's one more idea: guns (and maybe, ammunition) shouldn't last forever. It would help, slightly, in keeping our country from being overrun by guns if the guns had their own limited lifespans.

Simply requiring guns sold for self-defense be made of parts that tend to wear out and rust would be fine. If you want a gun that will last for decades and could be fired thousands of times (if say you're someone who actually goes to a range regularly) then pay an extra $50-$100 that will go into a fund that will help respond to violence made worse by guns flooding our country. I expect most people will go for a cheaper option.

Even more intriguing would be ammunition that degrades with normal atmospheric moisture but is fine is fine if kept sealed. The great advantage in this case is that idiots will stop leaving loaded guns lying around because they can't guarantee then that bullets will fire. I'm not sure this is feasible, but it doesn't seem impossible.

UPDATE:  borrowed this from a previous idea that weapons supplied in dicey situations like Syria, if they should be supplied at all, shouldn't last forever.


William M. Connolley said...

I think this kind of thinking is just the wrong way to go. Overly complex, hard to sell. I'd go the other way: take the constitution more literally. Accept the right to bear arms, but in the context of "a well-regulated militia", which is your justification for extensive background checks, etc. etc. I think your path to success is convincing folk that the liberals aren't coming for their gunz, providing they are responsible. Offering them rubbish gunz that fall apart doesn't seem likely to work.

Old_salt said...

It would also be nice to get rid of a little of the black market by limiting the number of firearms a person can person at one time, e.g., one per week or one per month.

david lewis said...

From the "Brief of Amici Curiae Jack N. Rakove, in support of petitioners, in the 2008 Heller case:

"as historians of the Revolutionary era we are confident at least of this: that the authors of the Second Amendment would be flabbergasted to learn that in endorsing the republican principle of a well-regulated militia, they were also precluding restrictions on such potentially dangerous property as firearms, which governments had always regulated when there was 'real danger of public injury from individuals'.

Gingerbaker said...

I am continually impressed by how much has been written about the gun violence issue without consultation or discussion of case law. And there has been a lot of it. A lot written and a lot of case law! :) Especially in the past decade or so, the constitutional protection of individuals to purchase, own, carry, and use guns for their own purposes - completely independent of any State or militia interests - has been made explicitly and repeatedly.

So, yeah, I get the militia thing is good for yuks. But, as I understand it, this explicitly individual protection changes things. It makes the 2nd a 'fundamental' personal right, which raises the bar on what any legislation must prove to justify removing aspects of that fundamental right.

Banning an entire class of firearm because they look (but don't function) like military weapons? Bar is now very high - probably not going to happen. The fact that these "assault" weapons are very popular? Makes that bar even higher.

You are going to have to prove that "assault" rifles are so incredibly dangerous, and are used so incredibly often, by so many bad people that they simply must be banned because there is no other way to protect public safety. Now, there are 60 million of these weapons, owned by tens of millions of people, in the U.S. alone. And the percentage of owners and the percentage of the guns themselves, that are used in murders is a rounding error to zero. Good luck with that.

So, what we have here is yet another post on the topic which is fun to read, and bat around, yes. But it isn't serious. Don't feel bad - I have yet to see a truly serious article anywhere. It's hard.

You would need to get real Constitutional experts to do a lot of work to bone up on the case law and be willing to stick their necks out to speculate about what would, or would not, pass Constitutional muster. And you would need to have an actual list of proposals that would actually accomplish goals - they need to be vetted also. There is that high bar.

I think your first three proposals make a lot of sense and would be easy. The fourth makes sense to me too but not to gun nuts. Not sure if it would pass that bar. I had some thoughts on others:

1) There are now electronic trigger systems that could be incorporated into all new guns, and possibly retrofitted into old ones, that will allow only the owner's fingerprint to activate the gun.

2) The complete end of all gun shows and private gun sales. It all goes through registered gun dealers.

3) Most gun violence is due to suicide, illegal drugs, and gangs. Mandate full mental health funding, legalize all drugs.

4) School shootings make up a small percentage of our gun violence, but it is devastating to the victims and our national psychology. Seems to me you can't have school shootings if you can't bring a gun into school. Statistics show that in some areas, significant percentages of students *routinely* bring a handgun into school. We should mandate and fund metal detectors and the staff to allow entry into every school through only one ingress point, and egress only at all other points.

david lewis said...

From a Washington Post article “Guns” A Second (Amendment) LooK”:

“no federal court has ever ruled that the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to own a gun”

"Originalists", led by Scalia in 2008 decided they knew more about what was in the minds of the Founders than any federal level court in the hundreds of years previous, when they suddenly discovered a new right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

A 1991 PBS News Hour interview with Warren Burger, former Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, has Burger saying this:

“The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies - the militia - would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

Gingerbaker said...

"“no federal court has ever ruled that the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to own a gun”

And no Federal court has ever ruled that the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to free speech, or the right to practice their religion, or the right to assemble, either. All of our rights are subject to regulation; none of them are absolute. You are not allowed to broadcast your political views on the sidewalk with a loudspeaker, or walk around naked, or publish child pornography, or use peyote in a religious ceremony, or hold a protest in a Senate hearing.

No Federal court has ever had a hearing on the notion that no Americans have the right to own a gun. Nor will they, nor can they until the 2nd Amendment is abolished. The SC has a long history of deciding gun rights cases, and they are about whether the gun ownership rights of Americans are informed by the various meanings and interpretations of the specific wording of the 2nd Amendment and how that relates to fundamental rights or State rights +/- the existence of a militia. Granted, the SC's record on those questions has been schizophrenic - it has gone back and forth on both sides until the past decade. But a Federal court has *never* said that Americans do not have a right to own a gun.

The three recent SC rulings, such as Heller, are definitely not outside the safe confines of precedent. Nor are they inconsistent at all with the intentions of the Founders, who never would have contemplated the preposterous notion that Americans should not have the right to own and use a gun. They were very vociferous and explicit about this, and that is easily verified by reading the Federalist and anti-Federalist papers.

I also got to say that Burger's statement on the militia acting as a state army is, in my opinion which is not informed by a law degree, way off the mark. Militias were the opposite of state armies. They were comprised of citizens - the people - and had various functions which included, if need be, fighting the State. Yeah, the Founders really did believe that there should not be standing armies, and they really did talk about tyranny a lot. Not surprising since they had just fought a war against tyrants.

david lewis said...

I cited the Washington Post article "Guns: A Second (Amendment) Look" forgetting to mention that it was written in 1995. I was using it to illustrate the huge change in the gun debate landscape, from then to now.


Release more pheasants ,bunnies, abd ducks To give the usual suspects targets other than each otherm children and convenience store clerks.

david lewis said...

Quoting from Scalia, who was assigned by Roberts to write the majority decision in the landmark Heller case, from that written decision:

"Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone [ the English legal writer ] through the 19th century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.... Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."