Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just Like Cars

The Newtown tragedy has renewed the debate over gun control. It is an old debate. It is like a dormant volcano that sits quietly until the next eruption only to fall silent again.

Old cliches are recycled as deep thinking. Apples and oranges are compared and no progress in any direction is made. Perhaps, that is the objective. Create so much confusion and fear until paralysis sets in.

Among the most common apples and oranges comparison made is that cars kill people too. Vehicular accidents statistics are recited to argue that cars are more dangerous than any gun. And the inevitable question (well, it seems inevitable since it makes an appearance in every gun control debate) is asked: "Should we ban cars too?"

Oh... that is so clever....[sarcastic tone].

Of course, comparisons to cars are intellectually dishonest. Cars were developed as more efficient means of transportation. Unlike firearms, cars are not produced for the sole purpose to kill. That should end any comparison.

But it won't. So let's embrace it. Treat firearms just like cars.

Regulate their sale and use. Issue licenses based on the type of firearm as we do with different types of vehicles. Annual registration fees can be used to fund security at public schools or a new mental health care system.

Require liability insurance coverage. Unleash private market forces. Insurance companies will develop measures to assess the risk that a firearm will be misused and charge premiums accordingly. Responsible gun ownership will be promoted and protected.

Discounts can be given for additional training as they do now for defensive driving courses. Premiums will be based on the type and number of firearms owned; whether firearms are accessible to minors or mentally unstable individuals in the home. Service companies will develop scores - much like credit scores - and conduct background checks.

Any bans on guns or types of guns will be so riddled with loopholes that they will be ineffective. Columbine happened while the Assault Weapons Ban was in effect. We do not need more "feel good" laws that give a false sense of security. Even if government were to pass effective legislation, opponents will be able to undermine it by cutting funding for enforcement.

The private sector is unencumbered by the Bill of Rights. No fear of private sector tyranny or big government to derail it. Insurance companies do not have worry about winning elections. Politicians will never be able to take away guns from irresponsible owners' dead cold hands. But Aetna can.