A serious conversation about America’s gun laws is overdue. Long overdue. It will be a tough conversation, but we can think of three first steps:
• Large-capacity magazines: Google “100-round drum” for .223. It’s what the Dayton shooter used to kill nine people and wound 27 others in under 30 seconds. Had he gotten inside a nearby bar, the body count would have been worse.
These drums feed 100 rounds through the barrel as fast as the gunman can pull the trigger — 100 rounds or more per minute.
This certainly isn’t what the men who wrote the Second Amendment had in mind, given that the Brown Bess musket of their era could maybe get off three shots a minute in the hands of a skilled rifleman.
We can’t think of a single justification for allowing large-capacity magazines to be sold to the public.
• Background checks: According to the organization Everytown for Gun Safety, 93% of American voters support requiring background checks on all gun sales, including 87% of gun owners. Still, countless guns are sold each year without a background check.
For a quarter century, federal law has required a background check before anyone buys a gun from a licensed dealer, according to Everytown, and convicted felons, domestic abusers and people who have been found by a court to have a mental illness cannot buy one. But that law does not cover private gun sales or sales by unlicensed sellers — meaning people otherwise barred from such purchases can buy guns “with no background checks and no questions asked — even from strangers they meet online,” the group says.
Everytown cites an investigation that found that last year there were nearly 1.2 million gun ads on one online gun marketplace called Armslist.com for gun sales where no background check was legally required.
We can’t think of a single reason this loophole continues to exist.
• Preemption laws: Currently, 40 states have passed some type of preemption law that prohibits local communities from adopting gun laws they think are necessary and that will work for them. The result is a wilder West than even in the days of the Wild West.
According to Smithsonian magazine, “Tombstone (in Arizona) had much more restrictive laws on carrying guns in public in the 1880s than it has today.” Quoted is Adam Winkler, a professor and specialist in American constitutional law at UCLA School of Law: “Today, you’re allowed to carry a gun without a license or permit on Tombstone streets. Back in the 1880s, you weren’t.”
And the magazine cites Stephen Aron, a professor of history at UCLA, who noted that Dodge City, Kansas, passed a law prohibiting the carrying of guns soon after it was founded.
We can’t think of any reason that American principles of local control shouldn’t be given precedent.