Back in February, representatives of more than 40 medical groups got together in Chicago, spent a weekend gabbing and chowing down, and then put together a list of strategies to deal with gun violence: research, safe-storage, universal background checks, more licensing, blah, blah, blah and blah. Then in April, group of well-meaning gun-control activists got together in Denver, spent a weekend chowing down and gabbing and then basically produced the same list. This week, the Democrats held their first debate for some of the 2020 hopefuls, and taken together, they also said more or less the same thing about gun violence.
I may be missing something, or maybe I’m just an old, dumb gun nut, but I really don’t understand how one discussion about ending gun violence follows on another without any of them mentioning what really needs to be done. And what really needs to be done, which happens to be what has worked whenever we have regulated any consumer product to reduce injuries suffered from when it is used, is to regulate the industry which makes and sells the product. But somehow, when it comes to dealing with injuries caused by a particular consumer product called a gun, the gun industry always seems to escape any regulation at all.
You say – wait a minute! We can’t regulate the gun industry; they’re protected by the infamous PLCAA law which keeps gun makers from being sued. Wrong. The PLCAA law protects gun makers from being sued based on the behavior of people who use their products, which isn’t the same thing as how the products are made and sold. Want to get rid of gun violence? Do what Bill Clinton tried to do back in 1999, come up with a plan that gets rid of the guns.
I am referring to the plan that was put together by then-HEW Secretary Andy Cuomo which imposed regulations on the industry to monitor and regulate itself at the initial point of sale. Had a few votes not disappeared in Palm Beach County, had Al Gore gone to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue instead of George Bush, this plan would probably have been imposed on every gun maker (it was briefly adopted by Smith & Wesson, resulting in the company’s temporary collapse) and the gun industry would have quickly followed the dodo bird into extinction, just like that.
This plan required every gun maker to impose and monitor specific sales practices on every retailer who sold just one gun bearing that company’s name. Such dealers would be required to conduct fitness interviews with prospective customers before selling them a gun; install better security equipment, hire more qualified sales personnel, attend classes on gun laws, on and on and on. The gun companies would have to visit every, single dealer selling their products, fill out compliance reports which would then be submitted to some government agency to be reviewed and approved.
There is not a single gun company which could ever come up with the resources to monitor the more than 5,000 licensed dealers who sell their guns. What the industry would be forced to do is consolidate supply to a few big-box store chains like Cabela’s and Bass Pro, with the result that most of the friendly, local gun shops which sell 90 percent of all guns would disappear.
The gun industry fought and prevailed against this plan because they knew that if it had been implemented industry-wide, the gun business would come to an end. No gun business, no guns. No guns, no gun violence. The problem with the plans to reduce gun violence produced by all the gun-control groups, medical associations and Presidential wannabees, is they don’t understand the gun business at all. What they do understand are the emotions and feelings of the people who want an end to gun violence but that’s not the same thing.
I keep saying it again and again but repetition is the key to good learning so I’ll say it again: Want to get rid of gun violence? Get rid of the guns.