Once again our nation has been host to another horrendous mass shooting, and all the usual meaningless hand-wringing, thoughts and prayers, and tired mantras of “Ain’t it Awful!” and “Stricter Background Checks” are being trotted out and twittered about as if something was actually going to change. But let’s face it, like Charlie Brown letting Lucy hold the football one more time, we put our collective hope that this time our legislators and courts will do something different.
Let me state categorically that I support the Second Amendment, but I also believe that its wording has proven to be in need of legal clarification from time to time, and that no court has ruled that the right to bear arms is none of the state’s business. Still, I am disheartened that the question of gun control and restriction is not yet the primary concern of every parent of a school-age child. I confess, I cannot even begin to understand why this issue should be so controversial to begin with. Every other civilized nation in the world has dealt with it successfully, yet the United States cannot seem to find a consensus on any aspect of this problem.
I am not writing this column to challenge anyone in particular. Instead, I want to propose a list of rules that I would have long ago put into action if I ran the zoo. I do this in the spirit of engendering polite conversation as to what, if any, of the following proposals could or even should become public policy and which, if any, would be impractical and for what reasons. I truly want to know what other residents of this community think.
1. A “well-regulated militia” permitted to bear arms for any other purposes than hunting or personal and home protection is to be defined solely by federal and state governments.
2. Ban all firearms except shotguns without saw-off barrels, pistols with less than 10-round capacities, and small-caliber rifles such as .22s.
3. Limit the size of any magazine for any firearm to seven-to-12 rounds.
4. License all gun owners with categories that permit usage for hunting, home defense, and/or collecting. Permits to be subject to passing a test on safety rules and practices.
5. Require all gun sales to go through a licensed dealer. No gun to be given as a gift unless conditions for rule No. 4 are met, including for minors. No minor under the age of 18 may be permitted to own a firearm, though usage is allowed if a firearm’s owner gives consent. The owner would be held liable for any misuse of a loaned weapon.
6. Limit the size and magazine capacities of all concealed-carry weapons to a maximum of nine rounds. Limit concealed carry firearms and magazines to one per licensed carrier at the time of use.
7. Mandatory fines and/or prison sentences for violations of the above rules along with automatic loss of all firearms in the perpetrator’s possession. Mandatory incarceration for commission of a crime with a firearm.
8. Mandatory participation of cash for outlawed weapons and magazines must occur during a set grace period, after which time such firearms will be deemed illegal.
9. Loss of all firearms or permission to own a firearm for domestic abusers under a restraining order or anyone publicly or on social media threatening to commit acts of violence upon individuals and/or public institutions.
10. Automatic life imprisonment with no chance of parole for anyone committing a mass shooting.
Again, I am looking for polite feedback on these ideas. I am not in any way anti-gun. I grew up with a .22 and 12-gauge and often hunted in the farm fields and woodlots of my community. I was trained for infantry in the Army and have fired and qualified on a variety of weapons. But as a civilian, I have never felt the need to own a military-grade firearm, and I do not understand why so many others feel as if they need to own one. I look forward to a reasonable discussion on the editorial pages.
Tony Marconi of Delaware is a retired teacher and a longtime social justice advocate.