The V Tech tragedy should have been a mostly apolitical event: One lone nut with no obvious or even tentative connections to any larger criminal or political conspiracy went off and killed a lot of people. To be sure, there are side issues that the tragedy does raise, from gun control to how we deal with the mentally ill and the like, but our fundamental rights as law-abiding citizens should not be at issue. Guns didn’t commit the crime, nor did stable, law-abiding citizens. One man’s heinous crime should not become the reason that 300 million Americans lose a fundamental Constitutional right. If anything, I would argue that Cho’s crime highlights the need to increase concealed carry permits. Countering his force with equal or greater force might have saved some lives.
Dan Simpson, a former ambassador writing in the Toledo Blade, doesn’t see it that way. At all.
Now, how would one disarm the American population? First of all, federal or state laws would need to make it a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in prison per weapon to possess a firearm. The population would then be given three months to turn in their guns, without penalty.
Hunters would be able to deposit their hunting weapons in a centrally located arsenal, heavily guarded, from which they would be able to withdraw them each hunting season upon presentation of a valid hunting license. The weapons would be required to be redeposited at the end of the season on pain of arrest. When hunters submit a request for their weapons, federal, state, and local checks would be made to establish that they had not been convicted of a violent crime since the last time they withdrew their weapons. In the process, arsenal staff would take at least a quick look at each hunter to try to affirm that he was not obviously unhinged.
It would have to be the case that the term “hunting weapon” did not include anti-tank ordnance, assault weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, or other weapons of war.
All antique or interesting non-hunting weapons would be required to be delivered to a local or regional museum, also to be under strict 24-hour-a-day guard. There they would be on display, if the owner desired, as part of an interesting exhibit of antique American weapons, as family heirlooms from proud wars past or as part of collections.
Gun dealers could continue their work, selling hunting and antique firearms. They would be required to maintain very tight inventories. Any gun sold would be delivered immediately by the dealer to the nearest arsenal or the museum, not to the buyer.
The disarmament process would begin after the initial three-month amnesty. Special squads of police would be formed and trained to carry out the work. Then, on a random basis to permit no advance warning, city blocks and stretches of suburban and rural areas would be cordoned off and searches carried out in every business, dwelling, and empty building. All firearms would be seized. The owners of weapons found in the searches would be prosecuted: $1,000 and one year in prison for each firearm.
Clearly, since such sweeps could not take place all across the country at the same time. But fairly quickly there would begin to be gun-swept, gun-free areas where there should be no firearms. If there were, those carrying them would be subject to quick confiscation and prosecution. On the streets it would be a question of stop-and-search of anyone, even grandma with her walker, with the same penalties for “carrying.”
Jaw-dropping stuff, that. Let’s form special police squads to invade every home in the United States and search them for guns. And while we’re at it, let’s have police stop-and-search people randomly on the streets, who haven’t done anything wrong, and lock ’em up for exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. That’s beyond the pale on the invasive scale. Hand guns are small and easy to hide. To find them, every home in America would have to be torn apart nearly brick by brick. Every car, shed, basement, attic and air duct would have to be searched. Every yard, searched with metal detectors. And it’s laughable to think that even that would work. We’re a big country. There are a lot of place to hide guns.
This unrealistic, draconian, and idiotic solution to the problem of gun violence is the kind of thing only a starry-eyed denizen of US diplomacy could come up with. It won’t work even if we wanted to try it, and wouldn’t stop guns from being here or getting here. It would just fulfill the cliche that if you ban guns, only criminals will have guns, but with a twist: Every gun owner in a America would become a criminal overnight unless they succumbed to a police state.