Note from Dan: Roanoke resident George Christenbury sent his proposal for gun control to me last week. The proposal, in the form of a letter to Sen. Mark Warner, is after the jump.
By George Christenbury
I often read your column and think you display good common sense. I like to think that I too have at least a little myself.
In the days following the recent tragedy in Newtown, CT, I had an idea that I thought my be a simple, effective start in addressing the issue of increasing gun violence. I wrote a letter to each member of my Congressional delegation with copies to the President and Vice President.
To date I have received a form letter reply from Senator Warner. I still think that we, as a society, need to make a start toward long-term solutions to the problem. Is there one answer, of course not, but the complex book length bills now proposed probably stand little chance of implementation.
In my opinion, the best way to make progress is to do something, anything, to get started. The enclosed proposal would be a bill that is less than half a page long and would effect real change. Thank you for your time and I would be glad to clarify or discuss the attached. I think “we the people” need to impress our representatives with the urgency of this matter.
Dec. 25, 2012
Senator Mark Warner
475 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Warner,
I am one of your constituents. I think I speak for many other Americans who are tired of the current climate in the United States Congress where dissatisfaction with the choice of the American electorate in the last two presidential elections has resulted in the more radical elements of Congress doing everything in their power to thwart any progress on any front. This is causing turmoil in our economy and threatens our recovery, but that pales in importance to dealing with growing gun violence in America.
No rational human being can ignore the recent events in Newtown, CT. The visiting of such violence on young innocents cannot be explained or dismissed. There is neither one cause nor one cure for the ever-increasing frequency and magnitude of these horrible acts. However, I am proposing a first step in the process that would simply and cheaply reduce the firepower available to the deranged souls who perpetrate these acts. Although I am sure some will disagree, the following change in Federal Law would be a step in the right direction and, over time, greatly reduce the firepower of the perpetrators of these mass shootings.
PROPOSED FEDERAL LAW:
1. Six months from passage: Possession, sale, or manufacture of any magazine that will combine with the interior magazine of any firearm to produce a capacity of more than 6 (six) rounds will be illegal. The possession, sale, or manufacture of firearms with internal capacity in excess 6 (six) rounds will be illegal. Existing firearms with internal capacity greater than 6 (six) rounds must be modified permanently to limit capacity to 6 (six) rounds. The penalty should be a misdemeanor with a significant fine.
2. This law does not apply to local, state or federal law enforcement agencies, military purchases or exports to foreign military forces. This law would not apply to .22 or .17 caliber rim fire rifles manufactured prior the date of implementation above.
4. Two years from passage: the penalty will become a lower-level felony.
I think that the above approach would provide a positive first step toward dealing with the heartbreaking events we have seen in Tucson, Aurora and Newtown. I agree with President Obama concerning the need to take steps to curb the violence. Below I will try to address the pros and cons of this approach.
PROS AND CONS:
• Reduces fire rate of weapons most often involved in mass shootings. Changing magazines provides a window for intervention such as in the assault on Rep. Giffords. If my memory serves, the assailant was subdued when he tried to reload. If his pistol had only six rounds vs. thirty-three, perhaps lives would have been spared. Adoption would also begin to reduce the number of times police officers find themselves outgunned by the criminal.
• It is simple and cheap. No firearms would be taken or outlawed. The cost to gun owners would in most cases be minimal. Gun manufacturers should get a two-fold benefit; a short spurt of additional sales of the smaller magazines and a reduction in manufacturing costs from the standardization of magazine size. Sales should be the same numerically but less costly to make.
• Most of the traditional shooting sports would not be affected. The six round limit is not a problem for any revolver of which I am aware. This combined with the legality of multiple clips for auto-loading pistols leaves the typical home defense gun owner in good shape. In the case of shotguns, hunters are generally limited to three rounds by hunting regulations. Most long hunting rifles, as well as AR-15 type weapons, are generally limited in the same way for most species hunting. Any hunter who complains that six rounds is not enough should probably go to the range. Target shooters generally put more emphasis on accuracy vs. rate of fire. The people who enjoy “tactical” sports just need to add reloading as one of the necessary skills in the sport.
• No one law will assure that “this will never happen again.” The problem is multi-faceted and cannot be solved by any one action. We as a society must begin somewhere. A uniform limit to magazine capacity for all firearms is a positive start.
• Some may think that elevating this offence to a felony is overkill but this law must have severe consequences since fines alone are often just seen as a cost of doing business by too many in this country. The Federal law making possession of an illegal firearm a felony with mandatory jail time is a good model.
• The NRA’s solution is to put armed guards into all schools. This would only serve to introduce hundreds of thousands of new firearms into schools and other public venues at taxpayer expense. By my calculations it would result in between $150 and $250 million in sales for gun manufacturers, the ones who financially support the NRA, as well as roughly $1 billion per year to support what will be functionally a new government entitlement program.
I do not intend to be derisive of any current or future government employee but anyone who took Intro to Economics will be familiar with the guns v. butter scenario. These new school guards would produce zero economic value for the dollars spent and so would functionally be one more government entitlement program. They may save a few lives, although armed guards at Columbine High School were generally not effective. More than one billion dollars a year for children’s health could be spent far more effectively than on more guns and armed government agents. Their basic premise that the weapon used is not in any way a factor is absurd. Large capacity magazines are for inflicting large-scale carnage and they are good at what they do. The bottom line is that the NRA approach is highly questionable on many levels and only makes the problem worse. Imagine elementary schools with high fences and perhaps barbed wire, classroom windows with bars, no field trips because of a Clint Eastwood movie, and armed patrols in the halls. This whole dark scenario is too Orwellian for me.
In conclusion, it is time to stop acting like petulant children and compromise to get the people’s business done. It is past time to start dealing with the problem of mass shootings in the United States. If you have any compassion for those who are visited with this scourge on an almost daily basis, you will ignore the monied corporate interests in this matter and ACT! Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.