Focus on responsible gun ownership, not control

Guy Kisling /

Published Mar 6, 2013 at 04:00AM

I recently spent time in Central Oregon enjoying Winterfest. I was reading the opinion page and saw Isaac Newton’s first law of motion applied in support of the Second Amendment. While the science is sound, the argument is absurd. Firearms don’t remain “at rest” anymore than cars do. People buy firearms to shoot them. People buy cars to drive them.

The discussion needs to center on responsible gun ownership. Strike the words “gun control” from the discussion.

Now focus on credible threats to firearm possession. It’s simply not credible in today’s USA to believe the “government” is going to march through the streets and confiscate 270 million weapons from 52 million gun owners, 90 percent of whom have a cellphone with a camera. It’s time to discredit the NRA scare tactics that our firearms are going to be confiscated. It’s not about confiscation. It’s about requiring a basic level of safety, responsibility and proficiency surrounding the deadly force of a gun.

Let’s remove the scare and apply some responsible auto ownership principles to gun ownership.

• Licensing: The RGO must pass both a skills and written exam at a gun range to own or shoot a firearm. A basic level of proficiency and understanding of firearms has now been demonstrated, just like a driver’s license. A vision test is also required. It’s performed during your driver’s license renewal. For further simplicity, your firearm license number and endorsements are added to your driver’s license, just like organ donation. We issue a separate license to non-drivers. Simple and sensible.

• Classes of licenses: Just like autos and trucks, different levels of licensing show different skill levels: Class A endorsement for rifles, Class B for handguns, Class C for concealed carry. Class C also requires a minimum marksmanship score. Why? It’s for their protection and my protection. If the RGO is going to shoot their firearm in a populated place, I want to know they have an acceptable level of skill at hitting their target, just like law enforcement. Not every RGO will qualify for a Class C endorsement. That’s OK. Not every responsible driver qualifies to drive a semi-truck.

• Learner’s permit: I learned to shoot a rifle before I could drive. The underage RGO is sponsored by a licensed adult. They pass a written exam before being issued their permit. After 1 year, they can take the full licensing exam. Easy.

• Registration: We require it for cars, so what’s the problem with guns? In The Bulletin, I read about a hit-and-run fatality in Portland. Police were able to identify the driver by finding the vehicle and tracing its registration. Very effective. I am an RGO and would have no problem registering my firearms. Registration is responsibility. If you are an RGO and are afraid to register, what is scaring you?

• Gun sales: All gun sales would follow the auto process. A transfer form containing the purchaser’s firearm license number is completed and submitted by the seller. Registration information is updated. Easy.

• Enforcement: Carrying or using a firearm without the proper license or registration is a crime. Different levels of penalties apply based on the severity of the offense, just like our driving laws.

• Safety: Will this stop gun violence? No. Will this reduce gun violence? Yes. Equally important, will it help prevent gun accidents? Yes. What would driving our roads be like without basic licensing and registration requirements?

Possessing a firearm does not equal supporting the Second Amendment. Amendments convey profound rights and those rights demand great responsibility.

Our right to free speech demands a body of law that simultaneously protects its exercise and punishes its misuse.

It’s time to elevate our thinking. This is all common sense. It works to support the Second Amendment for all citizens, not just people who possess guns. RGO is the simple application of sensible principles to the ownership and shooting of a firearm.