The discussion about guns has unfortunately been twisted into a right vs. left identity politics debate: if you are on the left you are ‘against’ guns and if you are on the right you are ‘for’ them. While this is nonsense, it is a testimony to the effectiveness of the NRA that they have been able to turn the question of gun ownership into “us vs. them” at a gut level.
The reality is that the issue is not about whether you are for or against guns. The issue should be about responsible ownership. No one is against cars, even though they kill tens of thousands of people every year. Ooops – cars don’t kill people, drivers kill people. The NRA is right – guns don’t kill people, shooters kill people.
If you want to drive a car, you need to prove that you are a proficient driver. The same should be true for guns. Local governments administer driving tests and issue driving permits (licenses). They should do the same for firearms. Oh wait, they already do, but only if you want to carry a concealed weapon. This should be expanded to owning any gun. In addition, it should be tightened up. In some jurisdictions all you have to do to get a permit is squeeze one round off and you are “qualified.”
You cannot drive if you are under age, mentally impaired or a convicted bad driver. They same is true for guns – the federal government has a program to check the background of gun purchasers. It is imperfect and should apply to private sales, but it exists.
The one thing that has no parallel in gun ownership is insurance. Drivers are required to have a minimum amount of liability insurance in case their car damages a person or property. The private sector provides this insurance.
The private sector offers insurance to gun owners, but it is about replacing their guns if they are stolen which is not the same thing. Gun owners should be required to secure their guns, and the private sector should sell insurance to cover this.
High risk drivers have high premiums. Gun owners with a high risk of being careless about securing their firearms would also have high premiums. How do you define high risk? Let the private sector work it out the same way they worked out who are high risk drivers.
The bottom line is that gun owners should have to show that they have firearms securement insurance, just like drivers have to show that they have automobile liability insurance.