Dear above-mentioned people,
A good compromise, in my mind, involves neither party getting exactly what they want, but settling for something that both can be somewhat satisfied with. There are few examples of true compromise in politics; most often, it seems that final legislation leaves both parties with very little to be happy with and very little resembling their original goals.
When lip service is paid to compromise and a party with a small advantage in political power attempts to ram through a bad piece of legislation, effective organization on the part of the opposition can kill the entire legislative effort and leave the party in power with nothing but spent political capital.
It’s no surprise that those efforts were an ultimate failure. Anti-gun politicians and PACs can make all the noise they want about how the NRA just won’t listen to reason, and that they really are okay with the concept of individual gun ownership. What really killed your chances of passing any kind of national legislation were the following two factors:
– Gun owners saw the proposed legislation as ineffective, not to mention an attack on their rights
– Gun owners saw the proposed legislation as failing to offer any real compromise.
I submit that changes could be made to existing executive orders and federal legislation which would offer gun owners a reason to believe that (perceived) anti-gun politicians really are as pro-Second Amendment as they claim to be. These changes would have effectively no negative impact on crime in America, for reasons I will discuss below.
If any or all of these changes were suggested in conjunction with whatever gun control legislation was proposed next, I think a lot more gun owners would at the very least listen to what politicians have to say. Of course, not all of these proposals are of equal “value,” but that value could be relative to the proposed legislation.
#1 – Remove Suppressors/Silencers From The NFA Registry
In 1934, the National Firearms Act was passed, which required the registration of all silencers, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and machine guns with the ATF. Along with this requirement was a $200 tax stamp per item. Today, the registration process takes six to twelve months, depending on a variety of factors.
Short barreled rifles/shotguns and machine guns are easily demonized and it’s harder to make arguments for their utility to non-gun people. Silencers or suppressors, on the other hand, are of great utility to almost all shooters in all situations, and there is little reason to outlaw them from a criminal standpoint. Why? They help protect hearing and they only reduce the sound of a gunshot by a small amount. They don’t completely or even partially hide the sound of a gunshot.
When I say that, I mean that a loud rifle – one with a muzzle report in the 170 decibel range – would be reduced to approximately 135 decibels at best. That’s still 20 decibels louder than the front row of a rock concert, and not hearing safe without additional hearing protection. With subsonic ammunition, a handgun might be a little quieter – say 130 decibels or so. This is a far cry from the way these devices are often perceived and portrayed. They would offer little to no benefit to criminals, but many benefits to honest citizens who shoot regularly and wish to not lose their hearing over time.
Current laws raise the barrier for entry into the silencer market too high. They also make ownership impractical as not many firearms sold in the United States are ready to mount a silencer out of the box. In other countries, such as New Zealand, using a silencer is seen as being a polite neighbor.
It would make sense for all parties to advocate for the removal of silencers from the NFA registry.
#2 – 50 State Reciprocity for Carry Permits With Decent Standards
Concealed carry is, of course, a contentious topic. Many people find the concept of private citizens carrying firearms hidden on their person abhorrent; others see it as a natural right guaranteed by the Constitution and its amendments (well, the second one in particular). I realize that not everyone will be very happy with what I propose here, but hey, this article is about compromise, right?
Ostensibly, every state allows concealed carry, although some jurisdictions effectively prevent the practice by heavily scrutinizing applicants or only allowing those with political connections to acquire a permit to legally carry a firearm. On the other end of the spectrum are states such as Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, and Vermont, which allow concealed carry of a firearm without any type of permit.
When you travel to other states, though, you quite naturally have to abide by their laws. For those who wish to carry concealed, it’s a complicated mess of which state recognizes which other states’ permits and vice versa. This often leads to a law-abiding and well-trained individual not being able to carry a firearm in a state which might allow residents of that state or certain other states to carry.
As an example, Nevada stopped recognizing Arizona carry permits because the latter reduced training requirements for carry permits. This is rather frustrating to me, and I must direct my frustration at well-meaning pro-gun groups such as the Arizona Citizens Defense League, which pushed lawmakers to allow carry without a permit (something I like and see the utility of) and reduce training requirements in order to acquire a state permit.
The latter point is something I don’t understand – if we’re going to jump through hoops and background checks and be listed in a state database in order to get a permit, we might as well get enough “training” to allow us to carry a firearm in a neighboring state with our shiny new permit. I certainly do not appreciate the results of that particular AZCDL effort.
Therefore, I submit that just as it uses the power of the purse to force states to limit the drinking age to 21, the federal government could force states to recognize concealed carry permits, especially if those permits came with stringent training standards and a criminal background check. How? Withhold federal grant money relating to law enforcement would be one possible solution.
The most passionate anti-gun folks won’t like this because “guns are bad” and the most passionate pro-gun people won’t like this because the “Second Amendment is (their) carry permit.” That said, something similar almost passed the Senate a few years ago, albeit without minimum standards.
However, the current system, in which many states only allow their own residents to carry guns, is simply illogical. Enacting a federal standard for a concealed carry permit – including training on use of force and accuracy/proficiency requirements – and requiring states to only recognize permits meeting those standards would have a positive effect on both the ability of citizens to carry firearms for self-defense (hooray, gun people) and the quality of character and training required to do so (hooray, people who think guns are bad and that 50 state reciprocity means felons can carry guns).
I saw an argument against 50 state reciprocity which basically went like this: “some states allow a right turn on a red and some don’t, and you have to obey the laws of each state when you drive there, because each state is different and has different needs.” This analogy does not fly.
If I am pulled over for a minor traffic violation due to a confusion of the law in another state, I probably wouldn’t even get a ticket. If I was caught carrying a handgun in New York City, I’d go to jail. Furthermore, there is no state which allows only residents of that state to drive cars in said state. Yet there are plenty of states which have that type of restriction on carrying a firearm.
A government-mandated (to please the anti-gun people) and privately administered (to please the pro-gun people) system for implementing this change is a possible amendment to this concept.
#3 – End Import Restrictions On Firearms Legal In The United States
Various federal laws and executive actions – the 1968 Gun Control Act and a 1989 executive order, as well as a 2013 State Department decision – have restricted the importation of certain types of firearms which are perfectly legal to manufacture or possess in the United States. Given a robust US manufacturing base, these actions seemingly have had little or no effect on the number or type of firearms available in the US. They have simply added to the complexity, cost, and burden of acquiring firearms which are functionally identical to firearms legal in the US.
They mostly affect three types of firearms: long guns (rifles and shotguns), handguns, and historic firearms (generally rifles).
In the case of the 1968 GCA “sporting purposes” requirement for imported firearms, the bottom line is that firearms have to go through a rather silly and pointless “test” of features, awarding points for each feature, in order to determine whether or not it can be imported – and this applies to all firearms, not just “assault weapons.” This silly “sporting purposes” test results in silly things like some Glock models being equipped with a “serrated target trigger” in order to pass the test.
Given that the Supreme Court recently recognized an individual right to own a firearm for self defense in the home, requiring that a firearm have “sporting purposes” would seem to be an unconstitutional regulation, as there is nothing sporting about self defense.
Next, we come to historic firearms. Traditionally, the Civilian Marksmanship Program imports – perhaps repatriates would be a better term – American firearms sold or given to other countries during their time of need. These might include bolt action or semi-auto rifles which date to the Second World War and before. They are largely desirable as nostalgia pieces and would offer no benefit over more modern firearms to criminals. Yet the Obama Administration saw fit to block the importation of M1 Rifles and M1 Carbines from Korea, for fear of their falling into the hands of criminals – although they did not cite any examples of the hundreds of thousands of other firearms distributed by the CMP seeing widespread use as “crime guns.”
Import restrictions on firearms are illogical and ineffective. They’re easily circumvented and serve no real purpose other than to offer a political victory to placate anti-gun action groups.
That’s Pretty Much It
If you (gun control proponents) want to prove that you really aren’t completely anti-gun, sincerely offer any or all of the above (and perhaps other things I haven’t thought of) as real compromises whenever you want some new piece of legislation to pass. Otherwise, you will keep meeting a massive and well-organized wall of resistance, effective enough to completely derail your efforts.
We don’t buy it when you say that you support the Second Amendment, but then take any possible action to limit the rights of gun owners. When you fail at big things like an assault weapons ban, you go for little things like halting the importation of Korean War relics, and you think that you did something to “stop gun violence.” Basically, you look at what pro-gun groups are saying and take the opposite position, regardless of the logic behind either side’s position.
We’re left with the impression that you really don’t mean what you say. That’s why we work so hard to oppose you wherever we can. If you want different results, you’ll need to change your actions, not just your words.