There is no deigning that the United States has a gun problem. High levels of gun deaths make our country a unique outliner among other developed countries, and undoubtedly the United States is seen as the most pro-gun culture in the world. After the tragic shooting in Los Vegas yesterday, there was a broad condemnation of this gun culture, and a call from many in the country to out write ban guns. A ban on gun ownership would require some herculean legislation, as it would require an amendment to the U.S. constitution, and override the second amendment— an outright ban is a near impossibility (but hey look at the ban of alcohol in the 1930s?). And with all the guns already in distribution would it have much effect?
I’ve been thinking of a unique solution to the problem, and I think if you look at the U.S. Constitution, there is something we have overlooked:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The key words here are well-regulated militia, but what is a well-regulated militia? In the days following the American Revolution this idea of a militia was a sinister one.
It was really a call for militia for war against Indian Tribes, and in prevention of Slave rebellions. This ultimately lead to state and/or private militia in attacks against Indian Tribes within and outside the boundaries of the new United States, especially against the Western Indian Confederacy in the Great Lakes Regions following the Revolutionary War.
These state militias would ultimately lead to the Civil War, and continuing onward until 1903. It was then, with the establishment of the Dick Act, and the federal National Guard, state or private militia membership in such groups dramatically dropped as state militias are found in only a handful of states, with tiny numbers of members.
The National Guard replaced these state militia especially after World War 2, as threats to the country were mostly from other nations, rather than internal conflict.
But what if we re-interrupt what a militia is in a modern sense?
What if gun ownership required membership or a license issued by a private club or group (~militia), authorized through the state or federal government.
So here is how it would work. Imagine you are Billy Bob, who collects guns, and spends all their money at the gun range shooting. He would need to join a militia to continue to own and use his guns, but this militia would be a club that would keep a register of all of Billy Bob’s guns. The militia could apply to grants to help raise money for gun safety courses, fixing up the gun range, buying safes or locks for guns, hold tournaments, recruiting new members, and have money to basically have a pro-gun fun safe environment for Billy Bob, and other members to safely use their guns. Each member would carry with them a member card, much like you would carry a driver’s license. The militia could provide insurance to its members, and work on things like suicide prevention for its members. The members could design a cool logo, and even sell merchandise, like t-shirts and ball caps with the logo.
Now here is the catch, to be a member of a militia would mean that all the members of the militia would be responsible if one of their members commits a crime using a fire-arm.
So, imagine that Sally Crazywoman joins the militia to purchase a gun for a bank robbery, she is captured by police, and her gun’s serial number is traced to the militia she joined to purchase the gun, the militia would be libel for her actions…. so if she killed a security guard with the gun, the family of the security guard or the bank could sue for damages the militia and all its members.
So, to be a member of the militia, there is a ready strong reason for members to run background checks, keep in touch with members, and keep everyone accountable within the “well-regulated” group. Membership would be a privilege and could be revoked anytime by the group. If a member is kicked out, law enforcement would receive a list of fire-arms owned by the person, and they would need to either join a new militia (within 30 days) or turn over their fire-arms to either their old militia or law enforcement.
Hence to purchase, collect, and use a fire-arm, you would need to be a member of one of these groups. The groups themselves would be under federal law to provide fire-arm serial numbers to the government when requested, as a government database of fire-arm serial numbers would not be kept to keep individual members privacy. The militia would need to be approved by the federal government, in order for its members to purchase fire-arms.
The benefit of this system would be that gun-owners would be really proud of their own group and promote intelligent gun ownership within its membership. Gun owners would also have a support group to help in times of emotional stress (suicide prevention), and promote the sport, including hunting events, tournaments, safety classes, auditions, gun shows, etc…
The militia would need to be approved through the federal government, which would make sure that the militia would NOT be promoting illegal activities. Hence if a member is found guilty of a crime, all militia members would be unable to purchase any new guns for a period of a year or even longer, depending on the crime. The federal government would issue the militia cards carried by the members of the group.
These militia could be used by police forces, and the military as places of recruitment, and membership would not be restricted by age.
Would this stop gun deaths? I don’t know, but I think it would do something that both gun-owners and non-gun-owners would find beneficial. And I think the idea would be better than passing an out write ban on all guns.