NB: I am not convinced that an “assault weapons” ban will be all that effective, since the given definition is so extensively aesthetic and not necessarily functional. Also, I do not believe that the capabilities of a hunting rifle ought to be outlawed.  In terms of the assault weapons ban, I’m not sure I’m totally against it, even though it is primarily aesthetic. Because I think aesthetics matter, and just as the militarization of the police is a huge problem, a glorification of military-looking weapons ostensibly for civilian and traditional uses, such as hunting, probably signals a problem for those with a compulsion to buy them for those aesthetic reasons.

I am much more in favor of universal background check requirements and limitations on who can own a fire arm, and also, further requirements for training or certification to own certain weapons, as well as specific requirements for storage.

As people are quick to point out, criminals are likely to simply ignore these laws.  That’s true, but most mass shootings in the US have been orchestrated with legally purchased firearms, often taken by a family member, if not purchased directly. It seems to me that requiring universal background checks allows for holding folks’ responsible if a gun they have sold to someone who is unstable or a criminal is then used in the commission of a crime. It gives further legal recourse to charge them for their part in making that crime possible and establishes a parameter for due diligence.  Likewise, putting storage requirements on firearms, and a window during which the theft or unexplained absence of a firearm must be reported, puts responsibility where it ought to be: with the gun owner.

As I mentioned briefly above, certifications might be in order. As an extension of this, it may be that some weapons do not need to be totally outlawed, but that they should be restricted to people who have received a further level of screening and training. The situation is Switzerland could be instructive in this regard: weapons that actually fit-in capability-the definition of a military weapon, could be limited to those who have received training in the military or through a form of national service, along with regular re-certifications, and similar controls as the Swiss have over ammunition etc…

Just a few thoughts sparked by the article below:

When the Supreme Court in 2008 declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a gun, the justices made it clear that this right—like any right—is not unlimited. “The court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill . . . or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

For the past 20 years, the “conditions and qualifications” attached to gun ownership have been steadily removed, mostly at the behest of the National Rifle Association, which insists on a virtually absolute right to gun possession. But the massacre of 20 children and six teachers at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, has finally led President Obama and other leaders to push for significant gun-control measures, including limits on the number of bullets that gun clips can hold; reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons; and universal background checks for all gun buyers.

The coming weeks will be a crucial period for Americans to support passage of such measures, which would serve the welfare of all (though not the financial welfare of the gun manufacturers who support and profit from the NRA’s political influence).

Most Americans are horrified at the easy availability of military-style weapons. They are astonished that 40 percent of all firearms purchased in this country are sold without checking if the buyer has a record of crime, drug addiction or mental illness. That loophole exists because the 1993 Brady bill—the last significant piece of federal legislation on guns—requires background checks only for sales by licensed dealers, not for private sales. Ending the private sales loophole is a crucial step in reducing gun violence.

And such a proposal has widespread support. Though the NRA fought the Brady bill at every step and even challenged its constitutionality, polls show that 74 percent of NRA members and 84 percent of gun owners—and 95 percent of all Americans—think submitting to a background check is a reasonable condition for gun ownership.

via Of guns and neighbors | The Christian Century.