Jonathan Kraut: New perspective on gun ownership


LAPD Chief Beck and city of Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti proudly boasted last week that this year’s L.A. gun buy-back program took 800 guns off the streets.

Whether you believe everyone should have the right to own a gun or not, offering a $100 Target gift cards to 800 honest citizens has no impact on the prolific possession of guns we are experiencing.

Last year law enforcement says it confiscated 4,600 guns countywide.

Let’s do the math – 800 guns surrendered per year plus 4,600 confiscated is 5,400 guns taken off the street a year. Divide this by 365 and a whopping 15 guns a day are removed from use. Not bad, if we lived in Iceland.

The NRA estimates there are at least 40 million more guns than people living in the U.S. In other words, each man, woman, gender undesignated, and child in this country on average possesses 1.12 weapons each.

If we apply this ratio to the Los Angeles Metro area, where we have 12 million residents, there would be found about 13 and a half million guns locally.

The California Department of Justice says more than 1 million guns were sold in California just last year, of which about 180,000 guns were sold in Los Angeles County. This means the new number of guns introduced into our local population is about 500 a day.

If we subtract the 15 guns removed locally a day, we still are increasing gun availability by 485 daily. In other words, the success of the gun buy-back program is neutralized after the first two days of the New Year, and every single day thereafter until New Year’s Eve we add 500 new guns.

Chief Beck and Mayor Garcetti should be embarrassed; but, of course, the buy-back program is for election optics, and not designed to create real change.

If we compare gun deaths to automobile deaths we at first would rightly assume cars are far more deadly than guns.

The FBI estimates about 6,000 people lose their lives due to gun violence nationwide, not including those of who take their own lives. Just last year about 40,000 souls nationally were lost to auto accidents. In other words, it is seven times more likely to die in a collision than by a shooting.

So why are we not buying back cars to reduce the death rate due to traffic collisions?

It is because we recognize that a car is a tool, inherently not a weapon – unless such use is intended. We should apply the same logic to guns – a piece of stamped metal, safe if used correctly. That is why education and safe storage and use are keys to safe gun possession.

The issues regarding guns are really simple. It is part of American culture to have a gun. We will never significantly buy-back, register, or have surrendered guns in America.

For fear of “our guns being taken away” from the honest and for reasons of concealment by the dishonest, we are never going to be able to register any significant number of guns.

Therefore, one solution to reducing gun violence is to register users, not guns. So let’s stop trying.

Imagine if anyone possessing or thinking of one day using a gun is asked to register. We can increase gun safety, reduce thefts, eliminate anonymity of registrants, and never impinge on the right of ownership or threaten gun confiscation.

Consider if every potential gun user, whether a gun owner or not, is asked to voluntarily take an eight-hour gun safety course periodically, perhaps every seven years or so.

The gun safety class would include safe storage and how to prevent gun theft. Also, biometric data could be obtained from registrants, i.e., face recognition, DNA, and fingerprinting.

Biometric information would significantly help prevent and solve gun crime. Even relatives of registrants through DNA could be identified, as was the Grim Sleeper murderer, who was identified through the DNA of his son. This way, honest family members would assist in identifying their criminal relatives.

A successful registration program would require severe and mandatory sentencing for violators. I would say seven years in prison for illegal possession and 15 years for illegal use is a good start. The cost of incarceration could be funded by registration fees.

Let’s address gun users and not the guns themselves. Let’s take actions that really matter. Let’s shift our thinking to offering licenses for the law-abiding and incarcerate those who are our real threat.

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