An alternative to popular faith
Recently, a Chicago off-duty policeman was shot and killed by four good-for-nothing bums, who decided it would be a lark to commit armed robbery. Ho hum. Another Chicago murder. Another good life lost.
Is there any way to stop the killing, or at least slow it? In answer to that question, we must consider a few facts:
- Most murders are committed with guns
- Millions of Americans want guns.
- The gun lobby is powerful.
- Even the Supreme Court ignores the first phrase of the 2nd Amendment, to make anti-gun laws unconstitutional.
- Gun manufacture, import and sales are quite profitable.
- Prohibition of something people want never works.
- There is widespread belief that anti-gun laws leave criminals armed and honest people unarmed.
- Chicago, and most other cities, do not have fully staffed, fully trained police. Money has gone elsewhere.
So, what to do? Here are a couple thoughts. Though none is a complete solution, a few worthwhile partial solutions could move us in the right direction: Make each manufacturer or seller of a gun liable for the use of that gun.
If you make or sell a gun that is used in a crime, you are responsible for that crime. Harsh? Unfair? Some states have “dram shop” laws, making a tavern responsible for damages where intoxication was at least one cause of the damages. Sell liquor to a drunk; the drunk commits a crime; you go to jail.
These laws are weak (they generally don’t apply to the manufacturer, importer, wholesaler or package liquor dealer), are different in every state, and are difficult to apply across state lines, but the point is, they do make sellers liable for a product they sell, even though they themselves didn’t misuse it. So even these woefully weak laws make bartenders a bit more cautious about selling drinks to doubtful people.
The precedent, of making a seller liable for the misuse of product he sells, could be extended to guns. Gun manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, even private citizens, would be liable for crimes committed with guns. So you, the gun seller, better set up a system to prevent your customer, or your customer’s customer, from misusing the gun.
Rather than trying to outlaw gun ownership, which for the above-mentioned reasons won’t work, merely make gun ownership more costly. Sellers probably would have to buy expensive insurance, the cost of which would be added to the cost of the gun.
I visualize a clearing center that would track every gun sale in America. All manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, retailers and private citizens would be required to submit a report on the purchaser of every gun.
The clearing center could be financed by a tax on gun sales and ownership. Just as we tax the sale and ownership of homes, cars, liquor and cigarettes, we could tax the sale and ownership of guns. The tax also could be used to hire, train and equip more police, as increasing police presence deters crime.
Under the economic theory “money changes everything,” making gun ownership more expensive, and making gun sellers more wary about liability, and hiring more police could together reduce the availabiltiy and ownership of guns — and reduce the murder rate.
Would this eliminate guns? No. Could honest people still obtain guns? Of course. Could criminals still obtain guns? Sure. But the increased cost, the clearing house and the added police represent a step from the current, total lack of control for the single most dangerous product in the world.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
No nation can tax itself into prosperity