how do you make it even slightly difficult for dangerous people to get one?
Maybe we make them less cheap.
America just has so goddamn many guns that they are incredibly easy and cheap to obtain. You can buy a whole bunch of guns and ammunition online, and lots of sites even offer free shipping. The only chance we have of making sure only responsible people own all of our millions and millions and millions of guns is to make getting guns more expensive, primarily through heavy taxation, and less convenient, through laws restricting who sells guns and where they’re sold. (You know, maybe buying guns should be as inconvenient as trying to buy alcohol on a Sunday in much of the country, at the very least. Is that an acceptable standard, gun people?)
At the very least, conservative critics can’t argue that the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was ineffective at driving up prices for most of the sorts of weapons and ammunition that civilians not currently plotting a violent insurrection have no legitimate use for. If we taxed the hell out of guns, and gun manufacturers, we’d have a legal means of restricting the gun trade and making it harder for criminals to get guns without infringing on the rights of non-criminal Americans to hunt or keep a gun at home for self-defense. (Non-criminal Americans would still be pissed off, obviously, if guns were suddenly much more expensive, but they should just deal with it.) If guns were much pricier, and if, as the Brady Campaign has been lobbying for years, “private” unlicensed sellers were required to perform the same background checks as gun shops, there’d be fewer cheap handguns flooding the streets of our cities, and likely fewer of them ending up murdering people in Mexico as well.
Taxation is not a remotely complete or perfect solution. Cigarettes are taxed at a punitively high rate in New York. People still smoke, and there is now a lucrative black market in cigarettes, usually enriching extremely unsavory people. And it wouldn’t do as much to prevent domestic gun murders and accidents as it would armed robbery and gang violence and street crime. We’d still have the 300 million-plus guns we already have. America is going to have a @!$%#load of guns and a @!$%#load of gun murders for the foreseeable future.
If we can’t ban guns, and taxing them is insufficient, our only hope is to work at creating an America where people want to shoot each other less.
There are countries with gun ownership rates nearly as high as our own and much less gun violence. You could attribute that to culture (other Western nations have a less blood-soaked popular media and lack our proud history of fetishizing power and violence and huge @!$%#ing guns) or regulation (nearly every other wealthy and gun-heavy nation registers firearms and requires licensing). But another thing Finland and Canada — to name two nations with plenty of guns and not many gun murders — have in common is a strong welfare state. There are also countries with many fewer guns than the United States, but with even higher homicide by firearm rates. They are all countries poorer and less equal than the United States. Social democracy might actually be a better deterrent to gun violence than gun control.
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