Moving the Needle on Gun Violence

Gun violence is a complex problem. No single solution will prevent all gun violence, and while some of the more sensible solutions I’ve written about are a significant part of a larger solution, there are a lot of other things we can do too. In other words, no one thing is ever going to be a complete solution. The gun industry knows this, as do the lawmakers they fund, which is why the only thing many congressmen have been capable of offering are thoughts and prayers. It’s easy for politicians to attack any single idea if it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Just like other complex problems, a multi-faceted solution is needed here. Also like other complex problems, the success metric shouldn’t be reducing gun violence to zero, but rather how much we can move the needle down from the 33,000 lives lost to gun violence each year. The need for a creative and sophisticated solution is especially true in the United States, as there is an inherent fear among part of the country that we will become just like Australia – a country that has had zero mass murders in the past 20 years, and yet still remains a democracy. This sounds simply awful to some.

Rather than go on about the need to follow Australia’s model (which we should), or the desperate need this country has to fire most of our politicians and reform campaign finance law (which we should), I’ll attempt to outline my opinion of what I think would move the needle on gun violence significantly in this country, keeping what is realistic in sight.

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Reclassifying Semi-Auto Rifles under the National Firearms Act

I originally wrote this article in summer 2016, and have been revising and tweaking it every time there’s a mass shooting in the news. This has been a lot lately. It has become a very sad and depressing thing to constantly bump the date on this content, knowing that it will simply fall on deaf ears again and again. Some days it feels as though the value our country puts on human life is so very little. It gets harder and harder to convince myself that there is still good in our society, but in the midst of these horrifying tragedies, the good still manages to emerge.

I’ve been a long time responsible gun owner, by the old definition of what that used to mean. Like a vast majority of them, I’ve wanted more controls on semi-automatic rifles – particularly, assault rifles, for a long time. Indeed, there’s Kool-Aid on both sides about assault weapons, and both have some questionable notions about them. The extreme left seems to have developed an irrational fear and hatred of all guns and the extreme right believes the only solution to guns are more guns. Consider this alternative perspective from someone who’s spent over 15 years shooting and working on guns, obtained NRA certifications to supervise ranges and carry concealed weapons, and up until a few years ago – when I sold the rights to it – produced the #1 ballistics calculator in the App Store.

What much of the nation does not know is that there is already a system in place to perform strict checks of individuals looking to own firearms categorized as highly lethal. Introduced in the National Firearms Act, this system applies to machine guns, short barrel rifles, silencers, sawed off shotguns, and other types of firearms that individuals can still legally own today, but with more than the casual regulation of AR-15s and other such firearms.

There is a lot to chew on here, but if you follow this article to the very end, I think you’ll see how it all comes together to a solution that would address this very complex problem should Congress ever act. It’s important first to lay the groundwork necessary to build up to these working points.

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