Listen to American’s Youth – Guns are Dangerous Instrumentalities
Guns, just like motor vehicles, should be regulated as dangerous instrumentalities!
On Saturday, March 24, hundreds of thousands of young people and their supporters marched in Washington, D.C. and across our nation to protest civilian gun violence and the horrific toll it’s taking in lives and bodily injury typified by the Parkland High School massacre. The most recent national analysis made as of 2014 by the Violence Policy Center demonstrated that gun deaths exceeded motor vehicle fatalities in twenty-one states and the District of Columbia. And the statistics are nearly the same throughout the rest of the nation. In raw numbers we’re talking about national death rates in both categories in the range of 35 thousand deaths a year.
So, the vast majority of our young adults want common sense regulation of gun ownership. But how do we do that especially when we don’t really know how many guns are out there? The best estimates tell us there are approximately 265 million firearms in civilian hands throughout America. Roughly one household in every three owns at least one gun. But one reason we don’t know precisely is because there are no uniform laws licensing or regulating gun ownership.
By contrast 9 out of 10 American households own or have access to a motor vehicle. In my home state of Florida every motor vehicle is classified by state law as a dangerous instrumentality. To drive one, you must be of legal age and have a driver’s license obtained after passing both a written and live performance exam. To be on the road each vehicle must have a license assigned to it that correlates to that specific vehicle. And by law the owner of each vehicle is responsible if they allow someone else to drive their car resulting in a death or injury to another.
These dangerous instrumentalities are regulated as to how fast, where, and under what conditions they can or cannot be driven. For example, it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Planes, vessels and other vehicles like jet skis, golf carts, ATVs, Etc., are also considered dangerous instrumentalities and most require a license to operate.
Like Florida, a number of other states have adopted this dangerous instrumentality concept. At the very least all states regulate such vehicles’ operation and require individuals who operate them to be licensed. And most vehicles must now have seat belts because they save lives.
The result of these common sense regulations is that over the last twenty-or-so years our national highway death toll numbers have plummeted. And as far as I know gun owners by and large peacefully obey the laws related to vehicle registration, operation and the requirement for being licensed to operate them.
So, I for one can see no reason why gun ownership should not be licensed and regulated either nationally or on a state by state basis in similar ways. First there should be minimum age requirements to buy a firearm just as there are to obtain a driver’s license or drink alcohol. Then each purchase of a gun, no matter where the transaction occurs, should require a license to own a firearm after a strict background check, which must include the buyer’s mental health record. Thereafter, each further individual gun sale should also be registered, after a renewed or updated background check accompanied by mandatory gun safety training for the owner. And all of the firearms an individual owns should be registered just like we require the registration of ownership of multiple vehicles.
Additionally, the purchase of ammunition and ammo clips for all weapons should require the buyer to hold a gun license and have any purchase recorded in a universal data base.
And finally, all firearms should be classified by law as dangerous instrumentalities since they are used to kill more than 35 thousand people a year nationwide. And the owners of such weapons should be held accountable, just as motor vehicle owners are, if their weapon is lent to another and used to bring harm to our citizens.
The NRA and many gun owners will protest that this violates the US Constitution’s Second Amendment. But that Amendment is predicated on “A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State…” And all I am calling for is the enforcement of the “well-regulated” portion of that very short twenty-seven-word Amendment.
Gun owners and the NRA should no more object to that than they do to traffic and motor vehicle laws. Such laws have saved hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives over the years.
Effective gun laws would do the same.