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  • Kathryn Patterson

How to Improve Gun Control

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."Let's start by rephrasing the amendment into common terms:
  1. "A well regulated Militia" refers to citizen soldiers whose activities/responsibilities/privileges are defined by laws.

  2. "being necessary to the security of a free State" means citizen soldiers and the ability of citizens to become part of a militia is required to keep a democratic government from descending into tyranny.

  3. "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" refers to the power each individual has to own and use arms.

  4. "shall not be infringed." means that Congress does not have the authority to disband a citizen's militia or stop individuals from owning arms.The Supreme Court of the United States issued two decisions in recent years that relate to the Second Amendment.  On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court decided in the District of Columbia v. Heller that an individual living in a federal territory was allowed to own a handgun regardless of his participation in a militia.  On Jun 28, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago that citizens in the states also had the right to own handguns, and local government could not infringe on these rights. So keeping in mind these rulings and the Second Amendment, how should the U.S. handle gun control?

Here's my suggestion.We need to treat guns like vehicles.  They are both dangerous items when mishandled.  Both also have a place in society when used properly.  Also, it takes different skills to use different types of vehicles, for which the government requires different licenses. Therefore, I suggest we set up a series of licenses for owning the various types of weapons, with the category of firearms divided into two categories:  personal use (non-militia) and militia.  The requirements for owning a weapon in either category depend on how much damage a weapon can do relative to time.  The more damage per minute, the higher the requirements.

Personal UseVarious rifles, shotguns, and handguns (up to semi-automatic) would require formal training and licensing.  Just like getting your first driver's license, I think people need to pass both a written test and a range test.  The range test is for showing that the test taker knows range etiquette, knows gun safety, knows how to load and fire his/her weapons, and knows how to clean the gun after firing.  Hitting the bull's eye is completely optional, but hitting somewhere on the target paper is not.  A person only needs to pass one written test, but needs additional range test for each class of weapons he/she wants to own.  The government will not track people who have personal use licenses, or will at least not make that information publicly available.


Everything from automatic weapons to M1 Abrams fall into militia use.  No weapon listed in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is restricted from a person willing to put the time and effort into obtaining the proper training and licensing.  You need to take a separate written and range test for each class of weapons on top of meeting psychological requirements.

To be fair, someone with a militia license needs to be publicly locatable, in case someone need help.  So the government will not only track but make publicly available all the people with a militia license.    Also, the requirements for owning an M1 Abrams tank need to be considerably stricter than owning a .22 rifle.  

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