Monday, January 24, 2011

Suggestions for Obama about Gun Control

An interesting op-ed in the New York Times provides some hints as to what Obama should do.

What’s more, while the F.B.I. database, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, has nearly 6.5 million records of prohibited buyers, two-thirds are simply the names of undocumented immigrants, who as a group constitute just 1 percent of those who were denied a gun. 

In contrast, the entire prohibited-buyer database holds just 2,092 names of drug abusers, and only one of every 5,000 prospective buyers in 2010 was denied for reasons of mental instability. 

A big part of the problem is that people who should be on the list, like those diagnosed with severe mental-health problems, are often left off, either because of bureaucratic hurdles or because several states are slow to report them to the federal government. According to a report by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 

New Jersey submitted just eight names in 34 months from 2008 to 2010, compared with 60,677 from Texas.

The president should therefore call for several additions to the database: names on the terrorist watch list, military recruits who fail drug tests and patients ordered to undergo mental-health treatment, if their doctor or family requests they be added. He should also demand that reluctant states supply court records on mentally incapacitated residents. 

An approach aimed at the person, not the gun, has a real chance of winning bipartisan support.

Somehow, I feel an approach like that, which certainly does focus on the people and not the gun, would not receive any more support from the pro-gun folks than an outright ban would.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.


  1. I agree. This should appeal to both sides. The only argument anyone has yet brought up is fear of "blanket prohibitions" such as for "non-violent felons" (white collar criminals) or for mental health conditions which are not ones that would lead to violent or unpredictable behavior. I don't necessarily agree with those (especially the so-called non-violent felons), but stipulations could be made.

  2. Anything you add would have to be from due process. The terror watch list proposal, as introduced already, would be a no-no as would the part about the family request without adjudication.

  3. I strongly disagree with prohibiting free exercise of our unalienable rights without due process and for no direct reason.

    It makes logical sense to legally prohibit convicted child molesters from being around children. It makes logical sense to legally prohibit a convicted computer hacker from using computers. I even agree that it would make logical sense to prohibit someone that used a gun in a violent crime from legally owning a gun.

    But where is the logical reason for prohibiting someone who has NOT been convicted of a violent crime with a firearm from owning a gun? It's quite a stretch that's fueled by bias against the guns themselves, not based on any logical or sound reasoning.


  4. Orygunner, I agree with your logic right down the line. I would just take it a bit further. Sinse there is too much gun violence, and too much of that comes from so-called legitimate gun owners, we need to find ways to prohibit them, the worst of the worst.

    Domestic violence offenders, road rage guys, even when their crimes are misdemeanors need to be disqualified.

    You know how I feel about folks who have "accidents" with guns. They're out.

    By tightening up in these areas we'd make a big improvement in the situation without interfering with the truly careful and responsible gun owners. Isn't that what you want?

  5. @Mikeb,

    To some extent, yes. I want everyone to be held accountable for their irresponsibility and justice to be served when they infringe on the rights of others.

    But explain to me how this "big improvement" works. The only people that are going to obey your prohibition are those willing to obey it, while those that may want to do the right thing and want to obey the law have their right of self defense prohibited by law.

    It also doesn't do anything to stop those that haven't been convicted of any of these crimes from getting a gun completely legally then doing illegal things with it.

    Want to see a big improvement? Let's find a way as a society to fairly and justly keep the TRULY dangerous people behind bars, and don't restrict the rights of people who choose to obey the law. If you get one of these "law-abiding" people that chooses to disobey it and infringe on the rights of others, hold them accountable! Make them show they are responsible and not a danger to others before letting them back out onto the street.

    It would take some work to re-design the system to work fairly and honestly (so we don't make mistakes and wrongly incarcerate non-dangerous people).

    You may get some dangerous people still on the street, and you may still get some irresponsible people making mistakes and harming others with a firearm, but that's part of the price of living in a free society. With the majority of dangerous people locked away until they are PROVEN to be safe, we're going to see a huge reduction in ALL violent crime.

    It's a lot of work compared to just sitting back on your ass and making gun control laws, but I believe it would have actual results instead of the imagined benefit of gun control.


  6. My home state submitted ZERO names of people who were mentally ill and the subject of some kind of committment proceedings. ZERO!

    Check out the different states, and how poorly many of them have participated - or NOT:

  7. Orygunner, My whole thing is based on the idea that all the guns start out legally owned. The criminals would be hardpressed to find guns if the lawful gun owners had to follow my rules.