Time for a Grand Bargain on Guns?

Posted: June 15, 2017 in Contemporary Commentary

One wonders if Republicans and Democrats agree on one simple sane proposition — one should not shoot at congressmen during baseball practice — whether such logic might lead to another simple, sane proposition:  a Grand Bargain on guns.

The bargain is simple:

1.) Liberals vow to forget about gun bans and the empty dream of an Australian-like confiscation.

2.) Conservatives agree to practical gun owner requirements — similar to a driver’s license  for weapons.

Really don’t see a downside to this for either side.

Liberals have to know by now that the idea of a gun ban is a pipe dream.  Even if the votes are there, doing away with more than 300 million privately owned guns is impossible.  Amending the Constitution to modify the Second Amendment is as well.

The upside for liberals?

They are able to inject an element of responsibility, education and regulation into the system — and avoid getting sucker-punched in close races like Gore v. Bush.  In real terms, they give up very little — and may save lives through an imperfect but better system.

Conservatives should jump at the chance to assure that their national nightmare — “they’re coming to get our guns” — would be over at last. Guns would not be regulated.

Want a gun?  That’s fine.

You have complete freedom to own and fire a gun.  In the same manner you have complete freedom to own and drive a car.

You study, pass a test, get a license to drive a car.

Same for a gun.

The idea of a driver license for gun owners is not that far a reach for gun owners and conservatives.


Well, how many people do you hear complaining about how their right to drive has been infringed?

If it’s done fairly, gun owners have few problems with sane regulation.  Fact is a regulatory program  already exists for owners of legal machine guns, sawed off shotguns and silencers — so-called Class Three Weapons.

You get a higher level of review by the feds — and you generally have to check in with your local sheriff for his approval as well, even in Texas.

But there are thousands of owners of legal machine guns out there — and incredibly low rates of crime among Club Class Three members.  In large part, this is because they’ve been thoroughly screened.

So it’s at least worth a good discussion.







  1. John D. McCown says:

    Well stated!


  2. Just how would that have prevented the events in Virginia, or any of the other recent issues? If I understood correctly, the shooter had two properly registered guns. I am not a gun owner (never have been) but I don’t think a “license” would change anything. It is also COMPLETELY different than a drivers license. Where in the Constitution does it mention driver’s licenses? That’s the important difference because a driver’s license is used to regulate the use of a public shared utility, not to govern the actions of a free citizen and his or her personal property.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Robert Frump says:

    Not sure that it would have prevented the Virginia shooting and pretty sure I did not claim that it would. Might it have? Probably not. This guy had a DUI on his record but nothing else serious.

    Would a sane system of education and regulation — even Scalia said the right to own a gun can be regulated — save lives in the long run? I have no doubt it could through (if nothing else) education and a required period of supervised experience. I think this would be the biggest benefit.

    Certainly it would be better. It’s a real world way of addressing part of this problem. I’m not knee-jerk anti-gun, but I know what a gun can do. You need at least as much training to shoot a gun as you do to drive a Prius.

    As to exact legal comparisons to a driver’s license, I suppose we could argue. (Let’s.)

    The Constitution definitely guarantees the common law right to travel freely and the commerce sections prohibit restriction of trade and travel among the states. So while, yeah, there’s no reference to motor vehicles in the Constitution or to driver’s licenses either, there is a clear Constitutional right to travel — as clearly as there is a right to bear arms.

    Courts have interpreted reasonable regulations on that right to travel as being, well, reasonable. Thompson v. Smith held in this manner:

    “The regulation of the exercise of the right to drive a private automobile on the streets of the city may be accomplished in part by the city by granting, refusing, and revoking under rules of general application permits to drive an automobile on its streets; but such permits may not be arbitrarily refused or revoked, or permitted to be held by some and refused to others of like qualifications, under like circumstances and conditions.”

    So apply the same standards. You have two constitutional rights. Travel. Gun ownership. You can regulate one part of travel through driver’s licenses. You can do the same for guns. In both cases, you have a tool for an action that is constitutionally guaranteed. In both cases, you can apply fair regulations.

    So there’s nothing really that would make this sort of regulation illegal. There really are stricter gun regulations on the book, all legal, and none under active challenge. The driver’s license analogy is pretty firm, I think.

    What would your proposal be? Seriously interested, not just being argumentative. No one plan that is reality based can bring gun violence to a halt. But at the very least, we should be able to make it safer for everyone — including gun owners.


  4. Jim Panyard says:

    Bob – a driver’s license is a privilege granted by the State. The right to bear arms is a Constitutional guarantee. Now, if you and your allies could repeal the 2d Amendment, you could then pass laws determining who could or could not possess a firearm, e.g, bad people, unpopular people, those who do not worship the state, etc. As you know, these types of laws have very effective in preventing drunk driving, drug abuse, etc. With hugs, Your old buddy, Jim Panyard

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert Frump says:

      You’re wrong there Wharton boy. Travel is not a privilege. And I should know because I am privileged. A Jaguar? That’s a damned privilege. Says Thompson v. Smith:

      “The right of a citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon in the ordinary course of life and business is a common right which he has under his right to enjoy life and liberty, to acquire and possess property, and to pursue happiness and safety. It includes the right in so doing to use the ordinary and usual conveyances of the day. This right is not a mere privilege which a city may permit or prohibit at will.”

      Love ya Jim. This is fun.


  5. Robert Frump says:

    Scalia’s majority decision notes:

    Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

    In a footnote, Scalia added: “We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.” For a justice who labored to make constitutional rules certain and unchanging, leaving open the list of permissible restrictions on gun ownership and use is especially notable.


  6. I’ll bite. A gun is a dangerous weapon in the same sense that a car is a dangerous vehicle. They both can do a lot of damage in the wrong hands and we have lots of history to back that up. So treat them the same way. Same argument goes for light aircraft and explosive fertilizer. Drones may fall into the same category, but we will know for sure when one flies into an airliner jet engine and kills three hundred people.


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