Dec 252012

(From my FaceBook status)

On the day that I was 18, I went to the Old West Gun Room in El Cerrito, California and bought my first 22 rifle. I was so happy and proud to be able to pull the trigger and see objects many dozens of feet away from me jump to my will. When I was in graduate school at UC Berkeley, I bought my first 45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, a Colt 1911 Gold Cup.

Yes, I love guns. I love the sound of their report. I love the smell of the gunpowder. I love to observe the accuracy of my aim. I love the notion of participation in a American tradition of self-defense and of rugged independence.

Many years ago, I joined the NRA and continue to be a member to this day.

This year, in the city of Oakland, someone is killed by gunfire every other day. And of course, the horrors of the recent massacre of schoolchildren ring loudly in my ears and pinch my heart and conscience. So what to do? Do we abandon what to me is a clear constitutional right to bear arms? Do we abandon the legitimate hobby of gunmenship and hunting in favor of a slightly safer environment?

There are between 200 million and 400 million independently owned guns in the United States. If guns are outlawed, you can imagine that number being cut in half. The balance of the population will never give up their guns. Pandora’s box is open wide. And we will never be able to close it again. Banning guns will – as the saying goes – mean that only criminals have guns.

So, well-meaning gun owners need to find a solution. We need to understand a way to limit the misuse of guns for violence and power. We need to find a way to keep guns out of the hands of those who would use them not for pleasure or self-defense but for destruction.

New gun sales may be controlled. But the other 200-400 million guns in the population will still be out and uncontrollable. Yet, there is something that we can control. And it is something that would stifle the nefarious use of firearms by the criminally insane and the ultraviolent.

We can limit the sale of ammunition. Guns are – more or less – useless without ammunition. And the sale of ammunition is highly controllable.

Here is my suggestion. In order to buy ammunition you must present a verifiable permit issued by a reliable and trusted entity. This could be a nongovernmental agency such as the NRA itself or some other trusted nonprofit organization. In order to earn the right to buy ammunition, gun owners must demonstrate first a competent mental state as tested by currently accepted psychological testing. Second, they must demonstrate gun competence by written test and proficiency in actual range shooting demonstration.

By choking off the flow of ammunition to dangerous, and incompetent gun owners, we have have a small chance at limiting the random violence which so plagues our nation. Short of the control of ammunition, all other methods of attempting gun control are at very best wishful thinking.

I would love to see the NRA lead the attempt at controlling the flow of ammunition as the most coherent method of saving our rights granted in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, while preventing the use of guns to illicitly kill and destroy.

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