There are no magic bullets by which we can solve our gun crisis. We must solve it. We must do what we can, when we can. But we must be starkly realistic about the potential impact of what we are considering and offer a comprehensive, long-term solution.
First, by definition, no measure that the NRA-bought-and-paid-for-GOP might accept is going to be particularly meaningful. Even if it sounds like something meaningful, it will be gutted or watered down so much to be much less than it appears.
We saw this with the assault weapons ban which was, as we discovered, fatally grandfathered, largely focused on cosmetics, and inadequate. Was it better than nothing? Absolutely, but it wasn't what most people meant when they speak of such a ban, it was just a piece of that.
Things like "red flags" or seminars on the impact of the web or video games are, of course, just distractions. They create the illusion of action. We must do more in America about mental health care. We must destigmatize it and fund it. But it is not the central issue here.
The central issue is the guns. The fact that we have more guns than we have people. The fact that we allow easy access to modern weapons of warfare. We must take major steps not just to stop the recent acceleration in weapons purchases but to eliminate the guns.
So long as there are 400 million guns in America, there will be no end to our problems. So, to begin with, we must begin a concerted effort to reverse what Chief Justice Warren Burger called the fraud that has been perpetuated on our second amendment.
It does not grant a universal right to have any kind of weapon to anyone always with no conditions. Even the conservative modern Supreme Court has upheld this view. It actually does not grant any right beyond ownership to support long gone state militias.
But let's set that aside for a moment. Let's just make sure that every effort is made to advance the legal argument that guns can be and should be heavily and highly regulated and actually made difficult to own.
So, let's begin there. Let's make sure that to own a gun that you pass a background check. Not any background check, but a rigorous, thorough background check that insures that people who have violated the law, shown violent tendencies (especially domestically), be denied guns.
Let's make sure the process takes a while and that there are, added to it, minimum waiting periods for gun purchases. For those who say this'll make it harder to sell your neighbor a gun...exactly. That's the idea. Sorry. It shouldn't be easy.
Then, let's make sure that if you wish to buy a gun that you must register it, like a car, and that you must pay a substantial registration fee. And that the registration must be renewed annually. And that if you violate certain guidelines that it cannot be renewed.
Let's have people pay a tax on the purchase of guns and ammunition that makes it harder to buy them and then use the proceeds from that tax to pay for the administrative means to oversee these programs and to pay for care of the victims of gun violence.
Let's make sure also that we stop the insane stockpiling of weapons that makes it possible for 3% of the population to own half of the weapons in the country--200 million guns. That's just crazy and dangerous.
Further, the folks that are stockpiling guns are largely, according to studies, white men with racial fears (see 2018 Scientific American article on this). Our gun problem is our race problem. So, let's set reasonable limits on how many weapons a person can own.
Further, we must, of course ban weapons of war, weapons intended only to harm other human beings. That means automatic weapons (which are largely banned) and semi-automatic weapons and tools to turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons.
It should mean banning large magazines and certain types of ammunition that serves no purpose for hunters and can only possibly be used to maim people. It means eliminating the right to own exotic super-dangerous weapons of war as well.
One of the reasons our Congress is slow to act on these measures despite massive public support for common sense gun laws--even among gun owners--is that it has been corrupted by the NRA. Therefore we must recognize that our gun problem and our campaign finance problem...
...are one and the same. We must fix our system and take the toxin of money out of our political system if we are ever to get it to prioritize the needs of average Americans over special interests every again.
Beyond this, we must have real leadership. We must have leaders at the federal, state and local level who do not simply do what is easy or explain why things are hard, but that will use all the tools at their disposal to make change happen, to lead public opinion.
That means, as @KamalaHarris has for example stated, that if these measures are passed at the beginning of the new administration, that the next president should use executive orders to implement them. But we can't stop at that. States and localities should pass tough laws.
Further, average citizens can do much. Don't invest or let your pension or 401-K be invested in gun manufacturers or retailers like Walmart. Don't shop in those places. Donate money to candidates who support such reforms. Donate money to opponents to the puppets...
...to opponents of the puppets of the gun lobby. Support organizations that oppose the gun lobby. Support buy-back programs like that suggested by @JoeBiden and those that go further. Support the active confiscation of unregistered guns and much higher penalties...
...and liability for people who use guns for violent purposes. Laws that limit the liability of gun manufacturers must be repealed--they too are a big part of the problem. America is the only country in the world that has this problem.
America is an outlier in all the worst ways on this problem. This is a scourge that must be reversed and the only way to do it is sweeping, hard, long-term efforts to take the guns off the streets, reduce their numbers and rationalize their ownership.
Targeting white nationalist terror groups is also essential. But it is a separate problem. Talking about one does not obviate the need to talk about the other. We need to realize how profound these twin crises are and address both.
Our leaders must be unequivocally committed to those goals. So must each and every one of us.
You can follow @djrothkopf.
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