Daydreaming About a Nationwide Gun Ban
In February of 2018, I wrote an essay saying that I believe a gun ban in the U.S. in inevitable. Four years have passed and no gun ban, so perhaps I’m wrong, and perhaps we’ll never see America’s gun violence resolved. But I’m going to lay out my arguments anyway, and you can see what you think.
I grew up in a small town in Utah where hunting was a big deal. We’d even get out of school for the annual deer hunt. Our prom queen, who was also my dear friend, had her own gun cabinet. My brothers got BB guns when they joined Cub Scouts. So while I’m not a gun owner and don’t want to be, I’ve always tried to be supportive of gun rights.
That has changed. Instead of feeling like: I definitely want you to be able to keep your guns, but… My brain now thinks: Actually, I DO want to take your guns away. You don’t need them. They aren’t actually protecting you, and our easy-access gun laws make our homes and communities unsafe. Why do we have to live like this? How about we have an honest conversation about taking ALL the guns.
A majority of American citizens have been begging for improvements to our gun safety laws for a long time. The asks have been reasonable and accommodating, small changes and simple fixes — like closing the private sale loopholes, or implementing universal background checks. But still, despite the patience, small asks, focus on common sense, and wide bi-partisan support for change, no significant action at the federal level has been taken.
Have we reached the point where the majority of Americans are no longer willing to be accommodating about this? Are people feeling like: Hey, we tried to do this in small ways that wouldn’t freak you out, but you wouldn’t compromise even an inch. And now we’re done talking about small ways. We want all guns gone. Our patience is officially exhausted. You had your chance, but you weren’t willing to work with us, and now you’re going to lose your gun privileges.
This is a quote I read on Facebook from a friend in Michigan. He’s a middle-aged white man; a lawyer who I’ve always known to be pro-gun rights, and who lives in a county where there are a lot of hunters, so he’s surrounded by gun-owning friends, co-workers and family members:
“Until now, we were never coming for your guns. Those of us who have no real interest in guns simply wanted common sense regulations. But now, we are coming for your guns. And we’re going to use our vote to take them.”
Because of seeing conversations like this, I’ve come to believe that a gun ban in the U.S. could happen, is possibly inevitable. You disagree? Let’s discuss.
I am a responsible gun owner. Why would we deny the rights of 99% of law-abiding gun owners because 1% are bad guys?
Is it the 1% who are the bad guys? Many (most?) gun owners in this country refuse to allow, or fight for, even the simplest most obvious regulations. Saying “I’m a responsible gun owner” is meaningless. It’s not useful to claim you are a responsible gun owner unless that term is legally defined and people are required to conform to it.
Is the father of two who keeps a gun under the driver’s seat a responsible gun owner? How about the grandma who sleeps with a gun under her pillow, and also gets unexpected visits from the grandkids? And what if your guns are stored with the ammunition?
If your neighbor’s teens know the code to their parents’ gun safe, are the parent’s responsible gun owners? If your brother has never had gun training, is he?
No one is a responsible gun owner until they demand and require everyone to be a responsible gun owner.
You want a full gun ban? That’s impossible. It could never happen here.
I never thought it was possible either. But lots of things Americans thought could never happen here, have happened. Do you remember the 90’s? At that time, no one could imagine that gay marriage would be legal. People predicted it would take several generations for anything like that to happen. It didn’t.
Honestly, I’ve never been out there fighting for a ban, and instead I’ve pushed the idea of effective nationwide gun laws. I know people across the country fighting for them. I follow and admire the work of Shannon Watts and the dedicated Moms Demand Action members. Heck, my daughter Olive helped organize and lead the March of our Lives in Oakland, California.
If gun owners had stepped up and fought for gun safety laws, I’d be fighting with them, and a gun ban would never cross my mind. Instead, gun advocates continue to fight gun law reform, and demand more guns. So we shouldn’t be surprised if making them all illegal becomes a possibility.
If small regulations haven’t passed, why would a full gun ban pass?
Gun owners have had their chance — over and over again for many, many years — to embrace simple regulations that would curb gun violence and protect our children. Instead they’ve elected officials who are bought by the NRA.
No one thinks criminals should be able to have a gun. But right now, there is nothing in place to stop it because of the gun show and private sale loophole, and the lack of any resources to make the national database useful.
Instead of embracing real change, gun owners have proposed ridiculous ideas like minimum wage armed guards at every school entrance, and laws to force teachers to be armed. It is up to gun owners to stand up to the NRA and get the most obvious stuff accomplished. But they haven’t done it.
People think guns will never be taken away. But I have to assume there’s a tipping point. The time for half measures is long gone. We need to put a gun ban on the table as a legitimate option.
Why would more laws work? There are already gun laws.
Current gun laws are arguably a charade. Gun laws change as you cross state borders. No background checks are needed to buy from private sellers or gun shows. There is no funding to keep the databases complete. There is no agreed upon standardized process which allows background checks to occur. The loopholes completely undermine the gun laws that exist.
And even California, the state with the most strict gun laws, doesn’t come close to the gun laws and culture-of-responsibility of all other high-income countries.
If there was a gun ban, only law-abiding citizens would obey. Criminals would hoard guns and ammunition.
I agree it will take some time to get the illegal guns out of play. But that is just a question of time. In the meantime, gun deaths will be drastically reduced. And only a national ban would have an impact in a country like this one, where state borders are open, and everyone can travel anywhere.
Gun owners need to step up and more vigorously support the debate, and the solutions. Gun owners, after all, have the most to lose. Excepting, of course, victims, all the families of those killed, and the communities trampled by gun violence.
Making heroin and meth illegal hasn’t worked, why would it work with guns?
Guns aren’t addictive and can’t be grown in backyards and fields like drugs. They require high level machining, manufacturing knowledge, and capital. Comparing guns and drugs doesn’t work.
We know that guns can be eradicated, because it’s been done before. Many countries have drastically reduced the amount of guns in the possession of both citizens and criminals, bringing death rates from gun violence to almost nothing.
It would take strict laws and time. Perhaps five to ten years. And then we would rarely if ever see these senseless, totally preventable gun deaths. So for me, even though I’ve always been supportive of gun rights, I would now support a full ban.
You mentioned simple regulations. Like what? What laws would prevent gun violence?
No solution will be perfect, and one idea does not necessarily preclude another. We can try many different things. Here are 10 smart regulations which the majority of the country would support:
– Establish a true national background check for all gun sales with a fully funded complete database.
– Take a harder look at who has the ‘right’ to own a gun.
– Define what responsible gun ownership requires. Are there mandates there?
– Make gun owners responsible for whatever happens with their gun.
– Make high-capacity weapons illegal.
– Require a mandatory 2-month waiting period.
– Require firearm insurance.
– Require firearm registration.
– Enforce a lifetime ban on gun ownership for domestic violence convictions.
– Remove access to guns for anyone being investigated for domestic violence while the case is ongoing.
Do you really think the NRA and gun manufacturers would ever let a gun ban happen?
Surely you can see the NRA is the worst advocate of gun owners. These kids who see their classmates being slaughtered, who grow up doing active-shooter drills at school, are going to become adults and vote and push much, much stronger gun laws than the modest changes that have been suggested for years. Modest changes which the NRA refuses to agree to in any way.
Gun manufacturers love these shootings. As does the NRA. They make tens of millions more dollars every time a massacre occurs. The NRA is not defending your gun rights. They are undermining them.
And since gun owners and the NRA have no other solutions that don’t sound idiotic to most citizens (like arming school teachers), then it’s hard to have sympathy for anyone upset by the idea of a ban on guns.
No one was coming for your guns. But it’s time to change that now that gun fanatics have offered up nothing but baloney in the face of dead children. It seems like just a question of time before voters (including many gun owners) do come for the guns.
But you can believe otherwise. Support the NRA. Oppose all gun regulations of any kind. The more people defend the current status quo, the quicker we should get to the point where a ban is inevitable.
Guns are not the problem. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
It is a fantasy to argue that the wide availability of ever-cheaper, ever-faster and more effective high capacity weapons don’t play a big role in the gun problem. Just like if we allowed flame-throwers and chemical weapons to be aggressively sold to the public for a relatively low price, we’d have more problems with murders via burning and gassing.
The gun violence statistics aren’t accurate. They include all the numbers of suicides by gun. Banning guns won’t stop suicides.
Actually, banning guns is the number one way to massively reduce suicides. A few stats:
– Guns are the most common method of suicides; used in about half of suicide deaths.
– Having access to a gun greatly increases the chance someone will suddenly, unexpectedly, and successfully kill themselves.
– Most suicides happen without warning. 54% of the people who kill themselves don’t have mental health issues, but instead are going through a temporary low-point — relationship problems, money problems, physical health problems.
– 85% of suicide attempts using guns result in death.
– Suicide attempts using non-gun methods don’t result in death anywhere nearly as much. In fact, drug overdose, the most widely used method in suicide attempts, is fatal in less than 3 percent of cases.
– The decision for most people to take their lives happens in less than five minutes from thought to completion. That’s one reason (of many) why guns are so dangerous to have in the home.
Having a gun in the home is incredibly unsafe for any family. Gun violence — intentional or accidental — being inflicted on household members, is far more likely than needing to defend against an armed intruder. Suicide is unpredictable. Please do not keep guns in your home.
But what about a corrupt government? As soon as you remove guns, you remove every single protection we have from a corrupt government taking everything from us.
Your gun isn’t big enough, even combined with all the other ones, to protect yourself from our military. Rising up against the government, like is proposed by sideline militia groups and white supremacist groups, is an illusion. Of all the really thoughtless arguments against gun law reform, this one is the most ridiculous. And it’s time we stopped pretending it’s a legitimate argument.
Attempting to acknowledge “both sides” when one side has a crackpot argument is dangerous to our country.
It’s not guns. Our society is totally immoral. In the last twenty or so years a lot has changed. But guns have not. So the only variable that has changed is our culture and societal views/norms. We no longer value human life, there is violence in music and movies…
Many people are old enough to remember when switchblade knives, zipguns and 6-shooters were the dangerous weapons of choice. Tools matter. And we’ve allowed ever-cheaper, ever-better, ever-faster, ever-higher capacity guns to be readily available.
It is silly to argue that “nothing has changed except society.” Actually, the widespread availability of cheap, effective, high speed, high capacity weapons mass marketed to the general public is a new thing since the mid-1980’s. Neither criminals nor the police had these high-capacity weapons readily available in the 1970’s to 1980’s.
Meanwhile, society and culture has improved with dramatically less violence. Except for shootings, which are the direct result of mass marketing the tools for that type of crime.
Obviously, evil, hate, and other bad things are factors too. Of course they are. But those things exist in every country inhabited by human beings. The variable is that we have quite recently (in the last 25-30 years) allowed a mass marketing of tools that essentially every other country has outlawed. We bear the consequences of that decision.
And by the way, our movies and music are all widely consumed in other countries that do not have mass shootings.
Guns have always been available. High-capacity guns (like machine guns) have been available since before the 1950s. But mass shootings are increasing. That’s proof society is more evil now.
You’re being insincere if you argue that because machine guns “existed” by the first half of the 20th century that their “existence” is the same thing as high capacity guns that are “cheap and readily available to a mass market.”
Every country with humans in it has anger, hate, and evil people. The reason we have wildly higher levels of gun violence is our widespread gun culture and wide availability of guns, including assault weapons. Not because Americans are uniquely evil, angry, hateful, or mentally ill. Those problems exist everywhere.
We need to arm more people. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.
Let’s stop pretending that things have to remain the way they are and no changes are needed or possible! And that a separate “criminal or insane” class of people (who somehow don’t exist in other countries) commit all these terrible crimes in the U.S..
This thing where gun owners say, “Nothing will completely fix the problem, so oh well, we simply have to allow the slaughter of our children, because: 2nd Amendment.” That needs to be over. We’re done listening to gun owners repeat bumper sticker slogans instead of demanding common sense action.
Maybe as a gun enthusiast, you can get your act together fast, ditch the NRA, and make all gun sales go through a background check, fully fund all government agencies to ensure the database is complete, enact laws which make gun owners 100% responsible for what happens with their gun, and other obvious things most gun owners support. Then again, maybe it’s too late for these smaller reforms. Maybe it’s time to go for a full ban.
It’s easy for me to believe that it’s just a question of time before there are enough votes for a constitutional amendment eliminating guns. And gun owners would not see it coming. No one was coming for your guns. But at this point many people are, and the guns will be taken with votes.
How would a gun ban even work?
You’d have to ask a lawyer, but here’s a possible route I’ve seen discussed: Constitutional Amendment, or Court Ruling acknowledging that the word ‘militia’ is limiting and does not grant the broad rights now claimed.
I think the amendment is not as out of reach as many think, if enough pieces fall in place such as:
– Endless continued massacres — especially of children, when ‘do nothing’ is the only thing offered by the gun lobby, and gun owners don’t work to make those regulations that are supported by a majority of Americans happen.
– A reversal legislatively or otherwise of Citizens United, and legislation largely neutering all lobbyists such as the NRA, who buy off politicians of both parties.
– A backlash of bumper sticker level response to all American’s problems, and movement towards a ‘we can’ from current ‘do nothing’ approach to policy.
– The inevitable pendulum swing.
– The continued technological advances in security and crime prevention.
– A big bang event.
It’s amazing to look at the absolutely unbelievable things that have happened in the last 20 years, things no one could have predicted or expected. New technology. Innovation. The thought that giving content (writing, images, videos, etc.) away for free would somehow become a common form of capitalism, would have seemed unbelievable.
I think some people assume that guns are here to stay forever. I imagine they will wake up one day and freak out and wonder what happened. What happened is gun owners failed to take any responsibility for safety and reason. And those of us who don’t have any use for guns will have no sympathy when the guns are gone.
I’d like to see you try to take my guns. You and what army?
If a gun ban becomes a law, and you choose not to be a law-abiding citizen, then it would follow you’ll need to face the associated consequences, like any other criminal. But if you’re picturing a bold stand-off at your doorway, where you defend yourself with a stash of guns, that sounds like an embarrassing fantasy.
Social pressure would work well here, similar to how it functioned with smoking bans. Grandpa says, “I won’t give up my guns.” Grandkid says, “Grandpa, I don’t want to come to your house because guns are illegal and I’m afraid they’re going to take you to jail. And houses with guns are less safe.” Suddenly, Grandpa decides he can give up his guns.
Or perhaps certain privileges of living in a community could be revoked until the gun owner is happily willing to comply and give up their guns. Things like not allowing them to vote, taking their driver’s license and hunting license, cutting off their internet, cell service, landline, mail service. All to be restored when they comply with the gun ban. They can choose: give up their guns, or give up the benefits of their community.
Those of us without a horse in the race are pretty fed up with the weak excuses against the most basic regulations. And we know one solution that will absolutely reduce gun violence: A complete gun ban.
So if gun owners can’t come up with something, then don’t be surprised when the right to bear arms is lost all together. Stranger things have happened in my lifetime.
It feels almost predictable that America will simply remove guns from society like so many other countries have successfully done. And gun owners will have no one to blame but themselves.
I’m in favor of a nationwide gun ban.
How about you? Have you ever felt a change in your viewpoint on guns? If you’re a gun owner, does this type of conversation stress you out? Or are you sort of “meh” about the guns you own and could easily give them up? What do you think of the idea of responsible gun ownership? How would you define it? And would you be supportive if your definition of responsible gun ownership was made a law that was required of all gun owners?
That’s all for now. If you find yourself full of sadness and anger, please know you’re not alone. Let’s be gentle with ourselves and the people in our lives, and save our anger and demands for the lawmakers who must take action.
Hi, I’m Gabrielle Blair and this is my newsletter. It’s completely free to access and read, but if you feel so moved to support my work, please consider a paid newsletter subscription: just $5/month or save money with the $50/annual sub. You can also go way above and beyond by becoming a Founding Member at $75. Thank you! Seriously, thank you. Support from readers keeps this newsletter ad and sponsor-free.
Hi Gabi My heart is breaking for the families in Texas. Do American hunters hunt for food or for sport generally?
this is absolutely brilliant. thank you again for your thoughtful words and insights.