Firstly, I am not an American. Secondly, I hate armchair experts just as much as you probably do. I don’t claim to be an expert on anything nor do I think I have all of the answers. But, to any outsider who isn’t an American there are some obvious aspects to the gun control debate that Americans cannot see.
America has a gun problem. The guns themselves are not the problem, it is the people who use them incorrectly that have the problem. As is the case with pretty much anything, human beings are always the weakest link in any chain; security, safety, health and common sense.
The media likes to focus on gun violence perpetuated by ordinary citizens. Yes, this is the most common and recurring form of violence. But there is also the issue of police officers who lack obvious training in firearm use adding to the body count of gun violence.
So, what is the answer?
As with most things, education is first and foremost key to reducing deaths. We already push for education for domestic violence, drink driving, texting and driving as well as drug use, why not gun violence as well?
From the outside the answer is obvious: make it harder for people to get guns. Don’t make it impossible or ban them, make it difficult.
But once again, we come back to the people. The passionate second amendment rights constitutionalist crowd see any attempt to limit access to guns or even recommending them gun safes under $1000 as an attempt to strip away the rights of citizens. It is a delicate issue here. People are the problem here.
Sure, Obama could easily pass stronger gun laws tomorrow. He could use his power to push it through and for a brief moment in time the media would lap it up. People will laud it as a step forward. But shortly after things would descend into anarchy.
Any attempt to tighten gun laws would radicalise the diehard gun lovers. Obama knows it and so does every other politician with sway in the senate. Things didn’t change after Sandy Hook in which innocent children died in a massacre. If an event like that can’t rally people to demand change, what will?
What about Australia?
People love to use what Australia did in 1996 as ammunition for the gun control argument. The National Firearms Buyback Scheme kicked off after the horrible Port Arthur massacre in 1996 which instantly transformed gun ownership. In the shooting, 35 people were killed and 23 wounded.
The reason in Australia gun ownership laws were able to be tightened and things regulated a lot more is because we are a smaller country. We also don’t have the baggage of a constitution which dictates that citizens have the right to bear arms.
While what Australia did was extraordinary, a smaller population and sense of less entitlement to guns made it possible. The USA is significantly larger with some states and localities having stronger gun cultures than others.
Make it harder
The answer to solving gun violence is to make it harder. Like anyone trying to obtain a drivers license has to get lessons and then take a test, why don’t we do the same?
If you want a gun, you have to take a couple of tests. You have to submit to a psychiatric examination to make yourself deemed fit of owning a gun. You have to do a theory test and then you also have to do a practical test in which you will be tested on things like safety and certain scenarios.
Make gun owners attend mandatory firearm education classes (at their expense). In these classes gun owners will be taught how to use a firearm, how to clean it, how to store it and how to use it properly. You would then have to sit a test after these classes in which you would need to get a certain mark to pass.
No matter what the US does, not everyone is going to be happy. You’ll have a few of the survivalist nut jobs who try and take things into their own hands, but with a little luck things will change. Sure, black markets will still be around, but with the limited supply of guns, the price will go up and less guns will be on the street. Action requires action.