Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Insanity of the Gun "Debate"

It seems to me that the American Constitution has bumped into the Law of Unintended Consequences when it comes to gun violence. It seems that school shootings are an American tradition, going back to the 1700's. According to the Wikipedia article,
Prior to 1989, there were only a handful of incidents in which two or more victims were killed by firearms at a school, including the 1966 University of Texas massacre, the 1974 Olean High School shooting, the 1976 California State University, Fullerton massacre, and the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting.
In the article "Gun violence in the United States" it states
In 2010 there were 358 murders involving rifles. Murders involving the use of handguns in the US that same year totaled 6,009, with another 1,939 murders with the firearm type unreported. There were 19,392 firearm-related suicide deaths, and 11,078 firearm-related homicide deaths in the United States.
It seems that Americans are more intent on killing themselves than their enemies are. Weird.
Of course, South Africa is riddled with firearms of both the licensed and unlicensed variety. The high-profile shooting involving Oscar Pistorius springs to mind. And most hijackings and burglaries are committed by armed criminals. Then there is taxi violence.
What I find so incomprehensible is the way American politicians "debate" the issue. The NRA comes up with non-sequiturs like "The only person who can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". Seriously?
My solution for the gun problem is much simpler: impose a gun tax of say $1200 per year per firearm. It could work on a sliding scale, based on the number of rounds that can be fired per minute. Since an AK-47 can fire 600 rounds per minute, while a Colt 45 has only 6 bullets in its chamber, this would make the tax on the AK-47 100 times higher, effectively making it too expensive for a private citizen to own.
The next step would be to impose a tax of $10 per bullet sold, which would make the cost of using a firearm more expensive, even it it was unlicensed. All of the money raised could be used to fund the emergency rooms at hospitals, where most gun injuries are treated.
If you haven't guessed by now, the aim of the exercise is to enable "sensible gun owners" to continue with their lunacy, but pay more for it. Illegal gun owners would face massive fines (and back-taxes) when caught with unlicensed weapons, and the general availability of guns and bullets would decline. It would also force gun owners to be more careful about not losing their weapons or leave them lying around where they could be stolen.
See also: "Darwin Award goes to all NRA "life" members"

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