Laws concerning the ownership, purchase, licensing, and selling of guns, including advertising, have the status of a third rail of politics, like Social Security. There is a difference: SS is invested in by everybody while only a minority of Americans even own guns, let alone own automatic and semi-automatic weapons. What makes gun control a third rail? The NRA and the thoughtless gun-owners who pay their dues.
Thoughtless because if you ask them, the majority of NRA members support some “reasonable” form of gun control. So if they are NRA members and the NRA opposes any and all attempts to control guns, who is the driving force in keeping the country from having a serious policy on guns other than the free-for-all we have now?
The gun manufacturers, that’s who. It must be the political reporters to delineate the flow of money that keeps gun laws from even being discussed. Here we can look at some possible laws to bring under control the vast, unregulated supply of weapons.
The most obvious is banning military weapons, by which I mean machine guns and the like. This has already been done and without good knowledge of guns myself, I cannot clearly define a military weapon, but we could start with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile launcher and howitzers, then work our way down to weapons whose only purpose is to mow down large numbers of people and/or ammunition designed to shred flesh.
The latter criterion brings up the issue of what guns are for. I enjoyed being on my high school rifle team. I did want a semi-automatic weapon precisely because it was a weapon of war. That was not a good reason to give me one. Nevertheless I don’t think we need detain ourselves too long over this definition; military and police experts can be consulted on laws that affect such guns. The purposes for guns are: hunting, self-defense, collecting, and target-shooting or just shooting. The only one of these that might call for a military-grade weapon is shooting. Some people may enjoy shooting a machine gun or sniper rifle; no problem – just keep it locked up on a range. Period. No access. Not even when you are REALLY mad at your girlfriend.
The self-defense category is simply impossible to argue against because none of us can judge fairly the concern of another: is it justifiable fear or paranoia? But as long as the weapon is a handgun that is not modified to fire automatically, we just have to put up with the fact that some people will decide to kill their family with a pistol. But in those rare cases, here is the catch: a pistol cannot do the damage that a rifle can and a single-shot rifle or shotgun cannot do the damage an automatic weapon can. Further, in the next step, we will see some limits that may cut down the number of incidents and the number of deaths in any one incident.