Eliminate the fatal weapons

Thursday, February 22, 2018 9:23AM

Virtually all mass shootings involve the use of semi-automatic guns, principally rifles, but some semi-automatic pistols as well.

The gun insanity needs to stop and here’s a first step. It will neither solve nor stop mass shootings, but it is a realistic step to take and common sense says it will make a difference.

We need federal legislation that reads something like this: All semi-automatic guns, whether rifles or pistols, capable of firing multiple rounds per second will be turned in to local police departments or other designated agencies over the next 12 months. The owners of these weapons will be paid full-market value for the price of the gun when it was sold by the manufacturer. This prohibition will also apply to add-on devices such as bump stocks, home-assembled weapons and other devices used to accomplish multiple firings.

At the end of 12 months, there will be no further reimbursements. Those still retaining such weaponry will then be doing so with the following penalties awaiting. If they are caught in the possession of such a weapon or device, they will be fined $10,000 for each item. They will also be prohibited from purchasing any firearm for a period of no less than five years.

Yes, such a law would require extensive tweaking in order to accurately craft the wording necessary to define the weaponry and devices.

There will be no midnight raids on gun owners, as they have 12 months in which to legally comply. At the end of the 12 months, they have defined their own situation. If they want to hang on to the gun they can do that, but if caught in possession of one, the fine and gun purchase prohibition will be applied.

It’s not an original idea. Australia launched a nationwide buyback program in 1997 following a mass shooting where 35 people were killed, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.

Of course, this idea will launch significant pushback from the gun lobby and some gun owners who may feel threatened. The loudest complaint usually is, “Yeah, and what comes next?” No one knows the answer to that question but we will never accomplish anything if we always default to “what if?”

Ted Leach lives in Hancock.