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Gun Lethality Deposit: A "Pop Bottle" Remedy?

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In Erie Pennsylvania a 14 year old, in broad daylight, on July 11, 2015, tried to steal a bike from its 18 year old rider. He pulled a handgun, described as "one of those old German Pistols from World War Two," pressed it against the rider's side, killed him and ran off. A 22-caliber bullet was removed from the victim's body. The boy perpetrator is in custody, but the gun has never been found. Although the first American Rugers made in 22-caliber were produced in 1949, a precursor German Luger from World War Two or earlier, properly or even minimally maintained, could still be lethal. Lugers in larger caliber were first produced in 1900.

Guns can long be lethal after any law-abiding owner becomes disinterested in them or ages out of using them. And now, whenever there's another mass shooting, some gun fanciers go out and buy more guns. And the guns, particularly handguns being advertised today, are advertised on their power, their lethality. It's estimated that we Americans already have 270 -- 300 million guns. How many more will we need? Will it eventually become legal to buy a laser beam handgun capable of slashing fatally through 100 or more movie goers or school kids?

Could even the NRA agree to pass a lethality deposit requirement for purchase of guns? The buyer would have to pay to a seller of a new gun, initially at least, a refundable deposit, amount dependent on lethality, guaranteeing responsible custody of the weapon. The seller would have to remit the deposit to a government fund. Transfer otherwise would be illegal. A significant deposit in addition to retail sales price could start to slow the tidal waves of new guns purchased in every aftermath of a mass shooting. The deposit would be returnable by the government custodian when the firearm is turned in to police or ATF, for destruction only. But law would allow any person coming upon a functional firearm not in proper custody to treat it like contraband, seize the firearm, inform law enforcement it is being brought in, and collect the deposit from law enforcement, no questions asked. Police departments would have a duty to hold the firearm for a period of time, test it for ballistics, and see that it is properly destroyed. Proper custody could include whatever the current state law allows, except that any loaded firearm lying about, untouched in plain sight in daylight in a home, office or vehicle would be subject to legal appropriation for deposit. If a legal purchaser has been so irresponsible about custody as to leave such an attractive nuisance as a gun lying in plain sight, he or she should lose custody of it.

The author invites constructive critique commentary on this idea.

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I could be Bernie Sanders older brother by similarity. I was born in Manhattan, 1940, he, about a year later, in Brooklyn. I too am a white male American. A retired college professor of philosophy. We both were born of Jewish parents. I was (more...)

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