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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 2/22/18

Two Simple Laws Could Solve America's Epidemic of Violence

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The rifle side of the equation is largely the same; while bolt-action rifles don't have a cylinder, they do require the shooter to pull back the bolt between shots, which ejects the spent shell, inserts a new one, and re-cocks the weapon itself. Variations on this include lever-action and pump-action rifles or shotguns, although all require action by the shooter between shots.

Semi-automatic rifles, on the other hand, like semi-automatic pistols, use recoil or gases to reload and recock the weapon, so that shots can be squeezed off as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. And, because -- like semi-automatic pistols -- they have quickly replaceable magazines, they're far deadlier than bolt- pump- or break-action rifles.

Since the vast majority of mass murders of the 1930s were accomplished with fully automatic weapons, tightly regulating who could buy and own them pretty much removed mass murders from the streets of America. It's time to do the same with semi-automatic weapons, which are the new mass killers' weapon of choice.

All it would take is amending the National Firearms Act to put any semiautomatic gun of any sort under the same sort of oversight and permitting necessary for fully automatic weapons.

What We Learned From Cars

While there were a number of automobile manufacturing companies in the late 19th century, it was really at the turn of the 20th century that cars became a hot commodity in the United States.

R.E. Olds (I used to live in and run a business out of his mansion in Okemos, Michigan) rolled out the first assembly line in 1901, but it was Henry Ford who cranked the popularity of cars up a notch with his "first version" of the Model A in 1903, and then developed the assembly line to crank out the Model T in 1908.

By 1927, around the time he rolled out the "second version" of his Model A, he'd sold over 15,000,000 cars.

So it was that, around 1915, many states began to notice that cars were killing people. They were being hit on the roads, dying when drivers didn't know how to avoid running into trees or off bridges, and in accidents with horse-drawn carts and other automobiles.

Which presented the lawmakers of most states with a serious question: What to do to protect the public, including the car owners, from the dangers of death and disfigurement that cars presented?

The answer that most states came up with, and has now largely been standardized across the U.S. and most of the world, was a very simple and straightforward three-part criterion for car ownership and operation.

  1. Establish ownership. In order to be able to manage all the cars coming onto the roads, both as valuable pieces of theft-worthy hardware and to track liability issues, all cars were required to have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which was stamped onto the car during manufacture and followed it until the day it was destroyed or decommissioned. Similarly, the owner of that car and its VIN had to present himself to state authorities and sign a title of ownership, which had to be recorded with the state whenever title was transferred to a new owner.

  2. Prove competence. By the years around 1915 there had been so many fatalities and serious injuries attributable to cars that the states decided they only wanted people driving on public roads who actually knew how to handle a car properly. This meant defining rules for the road, having people learn those rules, and testing them -- both in writing and practically in person -- to show they truly could drive safely. When people passed the tests, they were given a license to drive.

  3. Require liability insurance. Because virtually all car accidents were just that -- accidents -- most people who "caused" accidents were at both financial and legal risk. Many were fine, upstanding citizens (in fact, because cars were expensive, most car owners fell into this broad category). And they wanted some defense against the chance of making a mistake and ending up in jail or broke because of lawsuits or the liability costs of caring for people they'd injured. What came out of this was the development of automobile liability insurance, and the establishment of a requirement for it to be carried by all owners/drivers. While most states adopted this requirement substantially later than 1915, it's now established as a fundamental part of the three steps necessary to drive a car.

Which brings us to today.

These three things that we do for owners of cars are perfect to deal with our American gun problem.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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