I am an opponent to gun ownership, but I swore and oath of allegiance to the Constitution of our United States and with that comes the responsibility of protecting responsible and well-regulated gun ownership.
This is one of many contradictions one has to learn to live within a nation of laws that follows the essential principle of a civilized society: minority rights.
On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden will deliver a recommendation to the president on the changes to our laws that aim to protect the lives and rights of our citizens not just in the urban environments, but all across the nation. Here are two elements that the proposals should not include and two that are a must. I have come to these conclusions after having conversations with responsible gun owners, military personnel, fellow New Yorkers, and Floridians.
Issues to Avoid
Restrictions on Clip Size – Many have been led to believe that restricting the size of clips on assault weapons will reduce the carnage caused by violent crimes, targeted or otherwise. This is simply not true. While this may be seen as an inconvenience, smaller clips are more reliable in delivering the bullet into a firing position than larger ones as the spring mechanism is more likely to jam in larger clips. Changing from an empty clip to a loaded one is a matter of split seconds and to hope that a sniper or a well-trained police officer will be able to cleanly neutralize the assailant is just a fallacy.
Outright Ban on Assault Weapons – While this is a populist point of view, it will not reduce our national vulnerability to violence. Critics and opponents will easily point to the tragedy at Columbine that took place while the ban was in place. Likewise, the arguments will be down to semantics and terminology as to what constitutes an assault weapon, what kind of weapons are tools, what is used by our military, and what should be used for hunting and protection of human life in rural areas of our country. This will not lead to constructive dialogue and has the potential to lead to a losing fight on gun control on Capitol Hill – a fight that must be won.
Issues to Fight For
National Gun Registry – This must be the cornerstone of any meaningful reform. We need to know who, where, and how many weapons are possessed. It is critical that all operational weapons are accounted for. This information must be handled with great care as no one should find themselves to be persecuted for either owning guns or not. Privacy is paramount. This information is of great importance to urban areas as most of the guns involved in violence in our cities start in the legal realm and end up sold illegally to criminal elements. The registry can be used to find those gun owners who purchase weapons for the illegal elements in our society who benefit from violence. Verification of continued gun ownership should be required for future purchasing of weapons and armaments. The procedure is not aimed in reducing the sales, but should be carried out to ensure that the person who is purchasing another weapon is still the actual owner of previously acquired armaments. Likewise, it can be used as an early red flag, if a purchase is attempted and the inventory is incomplete.
Liability Insurance – In line with car insurance, health insurance, homeowner insurance, gun liability insurance should be required with every purchase. Weapons can be lost, misplaced, and stolen and with their loss comes great and often grave responsibility. Individuals who choose to be gun owners need to take not only the emotional burden for the potential tragedies, but the financial one as well. If we allow for personal choice of gun ownership, the responsibilities in the financial and the criminal sense must be shifted to the individuals. I am confident that private insurance industries will be able to establish the needed standards to getting the insurance that should be mandatory for gun ownership. These restrictions will be better enforced than any regulations that the Federal Government can setup.
I am convinced that with these precautions we can reduce violence all across our country, promote and support responsible gun ownership, protect our constitutional commitments, and address the need to foster a civil society of which we can all be proud of. It is my great hope to see the Vice President deliver these market-based solutions into our national discourse so that we can move forward from the tragedies of murder that have plagued our nation for too long.