Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Gun Rights and Wrongs (Part 3)

      Part 3 - Absolute Liability
Within the context of the Constitutional Second Amendment "right to bear arms", could gun owners, over time, voluntarily adopt "UltraSmart" guns, to mitigate the financial liability risks of owning conventional guns?

I am encouraged that, while the NRA does not think any current "smart" gun has acceptable reliability and performance, the NRA stated in a November 2015 editorial that: 
"In truth, NRA has never opposed smart guns, believing the marketplace should decide their future. Rather, NRA opposes government mandates of expensive, unproven technology, and smart guns are a prime example of that." 
Thus, there is a possibility that if, at some time in the (hopefully near) future, a reliable and safe "UltraSmart" gun is developed and is proven to have good performance in fair, independent testing, the NRA will not oppose it on principle, so long as its acceptance or rejection is based on the free marketplace.

This posting is intended to set forth a conceptual framework for an approach to "UltraSmart" gun regulations that might succeed in the free marketplace and receive the NRA's approval.

In addition to being un-Constitutional, it would be impossible to confiscate any significant percentage of the estimated 300 million guns in the US. And, even if we could match the 1996 Australian 20 to 30% confiscatory buyback, that would not disarm the criminals, gangs, and drug dealers who use handguns responsible for over 75% of homicides. 

Recognizing that the major problem is handguns, let us, for now at least, not change how we regulate non-automatic (bolt- or pump-action) and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. ("Assault-style" semi-automatic guns were banned from 1994 to 2004, and I would like to see that ban renewed. Fully-automatic guns are currently banned for private ownership.)

Most handguns are kept at home for self-protection, which is fully within the context of the Second Amendment "right to bear arms". So long as they are securely stored at home, they do not cause too many problems. However, if these guns are not securely stored at home, and are lost, stolen or found by children, and are subsequently involved in a crime or accident, it seems to me that the careless owners should be absolutely liable.
Proposed Regulation
Absolute Liability for Non-”Smart” Guns
Existing Handguns, Semi-Automatic Rifles and Shotguns
May be kept at home for protection. (Rifles and Shotguns may also be transported and used for hunting and target practice in appropriate locations.)
If stolen, lost, or given away, and subsequently used in a crime or accident, the original owner is strictly and absolutely liable.
Current owner may sell or give away the gun, or have the barrel welded to permanently disable the gun, but only via a registered dealer.
Dealers may sell old or new non-’Smart’ guns to qualified buyers for at least ten years, but only with a biometric trigger lock. A waiting period for background check applies.
Owners with current carry permits may continue to use their handguns for at least ten years. However, they assume absolute liability if gun is stolen or otherwise not safely disposed of and is subsequently involved in a gun accident or felony.

The above proposed "Absolute Liability" regulation is intended to encourage gun owners to improve the security of their guns, for example, by using a biometric trigger lock that opens only with the owner's fingerprint. I hope that, within some number of years of Absolute Liability, enforced against gun owners who fail to secure their guns, many gun owners will reduce their financial risk by safely disposing of their "non-Smart" guns, and purchasing an "UltraSmart" gun that has more limited liability and therefore reduced financial risk.

Proposed Regulation
Limited Liability for ”UltraSmart” Guns

UltraSmart” Handguns, Rifles and Shotguns that Meet Industry Standards:
May be sold to qualified buyers by registered dealers (waiting period for background check).
May be coded for a limited number of Authorized Users by registered dealers (background check).
Ammunition for “UltraSmart” Guns
May be purchased only by Authorized User for a particular gun. Individual shells are marked with a code that will be recorded by the gun when they are fired. (Non-marked ammunition will not fire.)
Must report if an “UltraSmart” gun is stolen or lost.
If that gun is subsequently involved in a crime, owner’s liability is limited (if properly reported).

Note that I have proposed "Industry Standards" for "UltraSmart" guns, not federal government responsibility. For over 100 years, Underwriters Laboratories has certified electrical equipment. UL is funded by certification fees collected from corporations in the electrical industry, with minimal government involvement. This is a model that I think the firearms industry, working with the insurance industry, might well follow to set up safety and reliability standards for "UltraSmart" guns.

Ira Glickstein

Part 1 - The Problem. Is it too many restrictive gun LAWS, too many GUNS, or too many gun HOMICIDES?

Part 2 - New Technology. Might "UltraSmart" gun technology, that allows only Authorized Users to fire the gun, help address part of the problem?

Part 3 - Absolute Liability. Within the context of the Constitutional Second Amendment "right to bear arms", could gun owners, over time, voluntarily adopt "UltraSmart" guns, to mitigate the financial liability risks of owning conventional guns?

Part 4 - Aggressive Police Tactics. "Stop, Question (and Optionally Frisk)" has a disproportionate effect on Blacks, but it has been shown to save proportionately more Black than White lives.

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