Emulating Switzerland

Pub date May 30, 2013
SectionPolitics Blog

Today’s “human nature is revolting” story comes from the state of Utah. Apparently, one the state’s leading gun-rights activists was busted for threatening his ex-wife’s family with a 2.5 tom Army surplus vehicle, as he intended to run over all of their cars with his. His lawyer says it’s no big deal and he was just “having fun in his big boy toy.”. 

I guess that crushing other people’s property could be construed as boys will be boys, assuming the boy in question is another porcine asshole with privilege issues, but it got to thinking about the mess that is the gun debate in America. Around and around it goes and as it accelerates, it gets crazier and meaner. Gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, is getting ricin laced hate mail from people that are apparently terrified that he’s gonna do to the Bushmaster as he did to the Big Gulp. Bloomberg’s PAC is sinking a ton of cash into gun control friendly candidates, making him the embodiment of the anti-NRA. The latter group has kept their lawmakers in check for years by threatening to run well funded opponents against anyone not toeing their line–if Bloomberg can match them dollar for dollar, this is a new ball-game.

And a new one would be coming anyway, Bloomberg or not. While sales of firearms are up, gun ownership is down. The same people are simply buying more weapons, wound up to the gills with the irrational fear that “Obama’s gonna take your guns”. The market is getting smaller, though and the NRA–no longer a gun safety or hunter’s rights group but really a trade association dedicated to expanding gun makers revenues–is getting cranky.

The center can’t hold. It is inconceivable that the US government would ever seize the millions of weapons in private hands, even if there was overwhelming public demand for same, it’s physically impossible. It’s also inconceivable that the public’s patience for inaction will remain much longer. A simple vote on innocuous background checks–which are supported by about 90% of the country--was unable to pass cloture in the Senate. The senators that voted against it watched their approval ratings plummet. So what now?

How about a new idea that works wonders elsewhere. In Switzerland, where there is no standing military, able bodied males over 18 are issued a rifle and bullets and fulfill the role of militia. As the Second Amendment attaches the right to bear arms to a “well regulated militia”, why not implement the same idea of a sort in the US? Every home in the US becomes required by law to have one firearm per adult, registered to same and with a reasonable amount of ammunition for same. Training and safety courses must be passed every few years like a trip to the DMV is. 

Surplus weapons can be sold back to the government. And locked up in armories.

I can see where both sides would hate this idea. Gun control advocates would be furious at the idea that the hated and lethal firearm would be mandatory–but who says they have to be loaded? The firearm fetishist upon whom the gun industry depends would be furious as well as their collections would be depleted–but once again, an idea–“remove and prove”. You collect weapons, remove firing mechanism and prove same.

Yes, it’s a pain in the ass in a lot of ways, but America can’t continue down this path. If every home has a couple of guns in it, according to the logic of the pro-gun cadre, no one will rob it (I know this isn’t true, but bear with me). Everyone will be presumably safer (that is to say, less scared)–isn’t that what they want?

Most people, yes. The NRA, of course not. As an adjunct to business, they have to show higher revenues each quarter and this idea more or less ends them. But that’s coming anyway–fairly soon, the gunmaker could be anyone with a 3-D printer. Sorry, Mr. LaPierre.

It is but a simple suggestion, but I think it’s a workable compromise. Because the all or nothing gambit is getting us nowhere.