The fatal shooting of a Times Square peddler by an undercover police officer, in what was described as a shootout defines as well as anything the real problem with guns.
There is a lot of evidence that guns in the hands of criminals pose nothing but threats and dangers to society.
So what’s the distinction? In almost every case, guns used in the commission of a crime have been stolen. And the shootout in Times Square was no exception.
The automatic pistol used by the peddler, who himself may have been dealing in stolen guns, was stolen in Virginia, site of the Virginia Tech massacre.
The real problem with guns are not guns themselves, or law abiding people who own them, but stolen guns, and the NRA and other gun groups would do themselves a big favor if they focused all their attention on what to do about it.
I have my own suggestions and have written about it before but will state them again:
First, make it mandatory that having a gun lost or stolen requires it to be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours. Failure to report a lost or stolen gun could result in a suspension of a gun license for a year.
Second, anyone who has a gun lost or stolen twice in a year faces a two year suspension of their gun license and must surrender all their firearms for that period of time.
Third, create mandatory safeguards for gun dealers including mandatory alarms, metal gates, bars on the windows, 24 hour surveillance cameras and the kinds of time locks used by banks.
Most stolen guns get into the hands of criminals because of someone’s negligence — a gun owner or a gun dealer in keeping guns where they can be stolen. Cutting down on the number of stolen guns by tightening requirements for gun owners and dealers to prevent guns from being stolen will do more to cut down violent crime than putting more restrictions on law abiding gun owners. And this is something the Obama Administration and congress and the gun lobby could agree on and get done very quickly.
It’s something that benefits everyone. It benefits public safety, it benefits the police and it benefits gun owners in that it will reduce the need and the motivation for stricter gun laws affecting law abiding citizens. And it will help get stolen guns off the streets.
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