Can Markets solve the massacre prevention problem?

As you may know from previous posts I like to look at things in different ways than most folks. I don’t really accept conventional wisdom at face value and I like to mix and match thoughts and ideas from different areas.

In this post, I am going to present what I think could be a novel solution to America’s unique gun regulation challenge.

Namely:

How do we allow everyone who wants to own a firearm do so legally and easily, while at the same time preventing people we as a society agree should not have access to firepower from acquiring them.

First, Everyone who wants to buy a gun should be able to.

I didn’t say if you need it. I fully support peoples rights to do whatever makes them happy. I am not someone who believes that people need to justify why they need a gun to me. I have too many kickstarters backed to try to hold someone to any standard of “necessity”.

You are a hunter? Great.
You want to have some home defense? Awesome.
You want to shoot cans off a fence? Cool. Little red discs? Don’t know how you hit all of them but have at it.
Want a military looking gun because you think it looks cool? Enough reason for me.

America is about the freedom to do what makes you happy.

But it is also about freedom in another way. We are a vast difficult to govern group that has no shyness about speaking our mind and standing up for what we believe. It also is a place that hates giving power to other people and I do believe that armed people are harder to invade and subjugate.

You remember Red Dawn? The Russians invaded and high schoolers fought back. I don’t want to give Putin any funny ideas. If he were to ever try to do a ground invasion, I like that one out of every two or three people are armed (or whatever that number is). No foreign power would ever be able to take over and “settle” the US.

Wolverines!

Second, It is a right, but one that can be taken away.

So if everyone having guns is so great, why take them away or make them hard to get for some people? Doesn’t the constitution say we can’t do that?

Short answer no, it doesn’t say that and we can take away people rights.

Longer answer, we are limited by the constitution in how we can limit peoples rights. You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of property and happiness. But can you have your life taken by the death penalty? yep. Can you be detained and sent to prison? 100%. And of course, your property can be seized, given to eminent domain or deprived in many ways. What the constitution does say is that it cannot be done randomly, arbitrarily or unfairly. You must follow a fair and substantially rigorous process with the ability to defend yourself, the ability to appeal and so forth.

The shorthand for all that is due process. The bigger the right, the more substantial the due process needs to be.

Third, we all have a loose agreement about people that should not get guns.

So who would you not want to have a gun? This is easy, anyone who would shoot me with that gun. or more generically, someone who would shoot other citizens and people.

If you want a gun for any reason that involves homicide or suicide, I think we all agree you should not have one. Being homicidal seems like a pretty permanent ban would be appropriate. And certainly, if you have actually killed people, lifetime no guns should be an easy call. And if you are having suicidal ideation, maybe some pause on the ability to buy a gun would be in order.

I think every other reason boils down to that. And we have lots of debate around who should be in the “no gun for you” club. But in the end, it all boils down to people who are going to initiate an action to cause grave harm to someone don’t need any extra help.

So at this point I have set the stage I think. We have a great benefit from an armed populace, and I feel like you can spend your money on whatever thing makes you happy. And we all agree, no just shooting people. But how can we do that?

Finally Here is my Plan and how it works.

Short version: All bullets require insurance. All of them, something like $2-5Million dollars per bullet. if they end up inside a person, that person’s family can file a claim for the full amount. For every bullet.

Longer version: The NCIS converts from a “yes/no” on allowing you to buy the gun, to “yes or no” the U.S. government will provide free or low-cost insurance to cover your bullets on your behalf.

Then the debate is who do we want to provide $2MM-$5MM worth of insurance. How many bullets? What size? If they never shoot anyone that is a free service. If someone shoots 17 people, we are now on the hook as a society for $34-85MM bucks to the victims. They don’t have to go to court to seek damages, they just file the claim with the Bullet Insurance Agency.

Well isn’t that a slippery slope? No. Here’s why. The government is not saying you cannot buy the item in this system, just that we are not taking care of the insurance for you. Other people can offer insurance. If the government won’t offer insurance coverage so you can buy a box of ammo, maybe the store will. Maybe you can find a 3rd party that will. Maybe the NRA would insure you. I would imagine there could be a self-funding option if you really really want some ammo.

Examples:

So let’s see who would we want to cover the Bullet Insurance for here? Let’s look at some of the imaginary people from your social media feed that pop up in gun regulation, disarming criminals and massacre prevention threads.

50-year-old dad, buying a box of shotgun shells. He has a hunting license and is a member of a skeet shooting club. No drug usage, no domestic violence convictions, no felonies, no other negative info on file.  NCIS: says yes we will cover him for free.

The End result: The guy doesn’t spend any additional money, and goes hunting.


 

A 39-year-old guy with an ed hardy t-shirt and bedazzled jeans wants to buy an AR-15 and a ton of ammo. NCIS: Says we will cover the first box free, the second box is 10 cents per round. after that you need to buy insurance from someone else. The store says, the store insurance is 35 cents per round.

The end result, the guy spends several dollars more than he was planning but still has fun shooting off a bunch of rounds.


 

A 28-year-old male wants hollow point handgun ammo and a Glock. Has been an associate of gang members, has prior minor drug arrests. NCIS says find some ammo somewhere else. The store says they don’t offer insurance based on his scoring.

The end result: He doesn’t ruin his NFL career by doing something stupid like shooting Odin Lloyd. (cheap Patriots joke there)


 

A 20-Year-old male wants to buy a small revolver and 6 bullets. He is on anti-depressants and has been under care for depression and suicidal thoughts. NCIS says, not for at least 12 months.

The end result: He does attempt suicide later by overdose, but is unsuccessful and eventually lives a full life and has a great family.


 

A 35-year-old want to buy two semi-automatic handguns and large capacity clips. He is a recent divorcee with a history of domestic violence and is under a current restraining order from his ex-wife and current girlfriend. This one should be easy and it is. “No bullets for you” and the police get notified of the failed attempt to purchase a weapon.

The end result: All of the family is alive and the kids grow up and have a normal life.

Final Thoughts:

You may say, why should the government get that much power? They don’t. Anyone of those people could also get insurance from someone else. Hell the NRA could start their own insurance fund. The only catch, if a member they insured shoots someone, they have to pay up.

What about military and police? The military is already covered by the government if the misuse force. The police is a little more interesting. I would assume that the government would automatically cover paying family members of people killed by the cops, but they may choose to pass that on to the city or state if the police department has a history of issues with weapons discharge. Could that prevent a Furgeson situation? Maybe. Could it incentivize cities to engage in reforms and de-escalation training like Dallas did? I would think so.

But the first step is to get to the common ground. We want to prevent access to firepower if there is a reasonable chance it will be used for crime, homicide, or suicide. My idea I think gives us a market solution to allow maximum freedom for everyone while still reducing gun-related deaths.

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