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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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  • Registration and title -- as a requirement rather than an option -- would establish a clear chain of custody and responsibility, so when people behave irresponsibly with their guns they can be held to account.

  • Having a shooter's license be conditional on passing both a written and a shooting-range test would demonstrate competence and also insert a trained person into the process who could spot "off-kilter" people like the Parkland shooter. Taking a cue from most other countries, we could also require people to prove a need or sporting/safety use for a weapon.

  • Today, if a car had run down mass-shooting victims, their families would be getting millions from Geico, et al. Because a gun killed them, they get nothing. This is bizarre in the extreme; we all end up paying the costs of gun violence.

These three steps are nothing but common sense, and don't infringe on the "rights" of gun owners any more than they infringe on the "rights" of car owners. They could even provide a stream of revenue for gun-owners' organizations that chose to train people to prepare for their licensure test, and/or offer low-cost liability insurance.

Learning From Others

Just like most Americans have no idea that every other developed country in the world has already figured out how to inexpensively and efficiently provide health care for 100 percent of their citizens as a right, so too, most Americans have no idea how all the other developed nations of the world have managed to keep their gun-deaths-per-100,000-people below 0.5, while in the USA it's over six people killed with guns per 100,000 citizens.

But other countries have done it, and we can learn a lot from their experience.

This is largely the path Australia has taken. After a decades-long series of mass gun-shootings culminated in the 1996 Port Arthur massacres, that nation, in a moment of collective revulsion, chose to require a license to own virtually any type of gun, and to make semi-automatic pistols and rifles as tightly regulated as fully automatic ones.

They also put into place a series of national amnesty and gun-buyback programs, which pulled hundreds of thousands of now-illegal guns out of circulation in that country, while appropriately compensating former gun owners.

It's still relatively easy for hunters and sportspeople to get pistols or rifles. All they have to do is prove that they are who they say they are, pass a background test, and then prove on an ongoing basis that they're actually using their weapons for sport, at least annually.

Since the implementation of these laws in 1996, Australia has not yet had another mass shooting incident. In the first years after the laws took place, firearm-related deaths in Australia fell by well over 40 percent, with suicides dropping by 77 percent.

And it's not just Australia. Every other developed or developing country in the world has more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Which may be why no other such country has the horrific rate of gun deaths and mass shootings we regularly experience.

None of these solutions is difficult. We've done them all before in other venues (like car ownership and fully automatic weapons) and they've worked fine, and every other developed country in the world has successfully applied them to guns.

We can, too. All it takes is for the NRA to get out of the way, or for American politicians to gather together the courage to stop taking the NRA's money.

Thankfully, the young people of Parkland, Florida, are doing everything they can to make that happen. They deserve our support.

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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. www.thomhartmann.com 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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