What big ideas can help America solve its most pressing problems? In an ongoing project, Yahoo News is soliciting creative, outside-the-box and possibly controversial (but still credible) solutions. Here's one about gun control.
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COMMENTARY | The Supreme Court has never ruled that states cannot require gun owners to be licensed. As of May 2012, four U.S. states required a license or permit for all guns. Seven additional states require a license or permit for handguns only.
There should be a federal law requiring states to impose minimum licensing standards for gun owners. The law should include a fine or withholding of federal dollars spent on public assets (highways, education, etc.) should states not pass these standards by the federally mandated due date. The standards should address:
1. The gun owner's purposes for owning or purchasing guns (hunting, collecting, self-defense)
2. And the categories of gun owned or purchased (handguns, long guns, assault weapons).
States may impose stricter licensing requirements.
In addition to the above concerns, federal law should require states to address minimum training requirements for gun owners and impose minimum security standards for gun storage. These minimum standards may vary according to the purposes for gun ownership and the type of gun. For instance, a gun kept for self-defense may be kept in the home unsecured, but it should be kept out of the reach of children. Guns kept as collectibles should be stored in a separate location from the gun's ammunition and secured according to specific minimum standards.
It is important that federal law make clear that gun ownership is a basic right and will not be taken away. Specific Supreme Court rulings have already addressed this concern and upheld the right to keep and bear arms. For instance:
Presser v. Illinois (1886)
United States v. Miller (1939)
McDonald v. Chicago (2010)
Author David Brin has a more developed regulation agenda regarding gun ownership based on a reasonable compromise that ensures the basic right of gun ownership for all Americans. I would add that federal law should require states to impose restrictions to gun ownership on felons and the mentally ill.