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For your consideration:

Current laws provide a perverse economic incentive for the production and distribution
of as many guns and bullets as possible, regardless of the intentions or stability of the
end users of those weapons, and regardless of how safely such weapons are stored.

We cannot begin to reduce the carnage caused by such weapons until we change the laws to give gun manufacturers, distributers, sellers and owners major financial
incentives to foster safe usage by legal owners and keep guns out of the hands of
criminals and deranged people.

To that end, we need laws to ensure four things:

(1) It must be possible to forensically identify every firearm and every retail lot
     of bullets in the in the United States, with a technology that would intrinscally
     make the weapon or bullet inoperable if the id were removed or tampered with.

     (Microtags embedded throughout the metal body would be one such mechanism.)  

     New guns and ammunition must be required to meet this standard after some
     date, and older guns and ammunition must be required to be exchanged or be
     proven disabled by some later date.  (Government subsidies could apply here.)

(2) It must be possible to identify, for every single firearm and every single bullet
     in the United States, a person or corporation legally liable for any and all
     damage inflicted by that weapon and bullet.  This liability must persist even if
     the guns are stolen or lost, to eliminate any incentive for evasion.

     (This is commonly referred to as a "cradle to grave" approach in which liablity
      rests with the manufacturer until they legally transfer it to another entity
      and record that transaction with the government, a la "pink slips" for cars.)

     Since the motivation would be to assign criminal and civil liability, access to
     such a database could be restricted to require a narrow court order for each query.

(3) The financial penalty associated with such liability must be sufficiently high as to
     be a major deterrent to irresponsible behavior.  

     (A fine of $5 million per death and $1 million per injury would be a minimum
      reasonable penalty. Fines four times that large would be still be reasonable.)

     Such a criminal penalty would be automatic and independent of any civil liability
     that might be litigated.  It should not be possible to eliminate such liability under
     any circumanstances, even if the weapons are stolen from the legal owner (or
     are taken from their cold dead fingers, for that matter).

     The legal owner can negotiate insurance premiums based on how effective their
     anti-theft measures are, but bottom line they are financially liable for their
     weapons, no matter what.

     All people or corporations with liablity must be required to carry insurance
     promising to pay the fine for any number of deaths caused by the insured
     weapons, without limit.

     In the event the legal owner has insufficient resources and insurance to pay such
     a fine, liability for the remaining amount reverts to the prior owner, back to the
     original manufacturer.  If that manufacturer lacks sufficient resources, then an
     industry-wide insurance policy must pay.

(4) Penalties for attempts to circumvent the laws enacted to ensure the previous
     goals must be swift and severe, with major fines and significant mandatory
     prison sentences.

     Companies violating or evading the laws should be liquidated and the board
     members and officers severely fined (perhaps $5 million apiece), while
     individuals doing the same should lose all of their assets, and receive prison
     terms of 5 years or more.

Poll

Are these basic principles good guidance for new laws?

36%8 votes
22%5 votes
4%1 votes
13%3 votes
22%5 votes

| 22 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I applaud what you've diaried. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JMcDonald

    The gun manufacturers lobby (ie, NRA) has vehemently opposed any legislation that would let us track down bullets or guns. But in fact that's one of the best things we can do as a society. So kudos.

    Technology can let us trace gun usage, but the manufacturers don't want it. We have to stand together and demand its implementation. Thanks for posting.

    •  I tried to base it on human nature (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCaliana

      If there is a financial incentive, people will pursue it, no matter what they profess, or even if it conflicts with other things they hold dear (such as not killing kindergartners).

      Reverse that incentive and the problem should wither away.

  •  Would there be protections against red-lining (0+ / 0-)

    practices by insurance companies?  Should someone be penalized simply because of where they live?  How can affordability of insurance be mitigated for those who aren't wealthy?

    Would reloading your own ammunition be prohibited?

    As ownership is currently a Constitutional right, should it be the government itself that becomes the insurer, rather than private enterprises?

    •  the goal is to limit guns, not promote them (0+ / 0-)

      If guns in some area are more likely to be used for crime than guns in another area, then OF COURSE the insurance will be higher, just as it is with automobiles in cities.  That's the point: you want to reduce the number of guns where they are most likely to be used in crime.

      More generally, for the situation you describe there is a pressing need to avoid a tragedy of the commons, where  individuals have an incentive to perform actions (in this case, buying guns) that lower the welfare of everyone, forcing everyone into a much worse position than if the actions had been restricted.  That's why we have laws against pollution, require car insurance, etc. -- in the end everyone benefits in way that would never happen without government regulation.

      Reloading your own ammunition would be legal as long as the metal in the resulting bullets could be uniquely traced back to you.   You'd need to buy labeled batches of metal in a purchase recorded with the state.  

      The problem with the government setting rates is that you would lose the market signals provided by competition.  It could work, if the laws required insurance premiums to match payouts.  The ability to tailor premiums to individual situations would be hampered, but perhaps could be achieved with actuarial tables for broad categories.

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