How to curb gun carnage: really

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

“The problem with doing nothing,” Groucho Marx famously said, “is that you never know when you’re finished.” Our esteemed leaders embody Mr. Marx’s wisdom, because they keep doing nothing about the assassinations of innocent individuals by gun, a continuous horror that has impelled numerous countries to warn against traveling to America.

As of 8:30 PM Central time on May 13, nearly 15,500 people in America had died from gun violence in 2023. At this rate, we could surpass the record 21,000, set in 2021, before we reach Independence Day.

As always, following each mass murder, the gunnistas have offered thoughts and prayers, attributed the assassinations to the assassins’ apparent ill mental health, and mostly haul out the truism that “bad people will always find their way to get hold of guns.” Which is true.

But most mass murderers aren’t “bad people.” They weren’t bad people until they became bad people. And mostly, they obtained their weapons of mass destruction legally.

A precious few states have defied Mr. Marx, acting to curb the ability of Mr. and Ms. American to purchase guns legally. In California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts, you may have to endure any or all of a thorough background check, pass a firearms safety course, secure a police-authorized license, and satisfy other requirements.

But in many other states, it’s easier to buy a gun than to adopt a child, become divorced, secure a cosmetology or driver’s license, and, thanks to Dobbs, get an abortion.

With more than 400 million privately held guns in America—nearly a million more guns than people—there is no way to rid this land of guns. States, even those that have recently experienced mass shootings, are loath to restrict weapons availability. Though a Texas legislative panel advanced a bill that would increase the age of legal gun purchases to 21 from 18, most observers believe the bill has no chance of passage, much less of being signed into law by fervent gun advocate Governor Greg Abbott.

So, is the situation hopeless? Is America truly fated to remain a continent-wide OK Corral until packing heat becomes as ubiquitous as packing phones?

I don’t think so. Here’s a solution to stem the increasing flood of guns. It all comes down to capitalism. The aim is to deplete inventory to the point where buying a gun and ammo becomes too expensive. Here’s how it could work:

First, concerned Americans create a nonprofit organization and recruit as members those of us who clamor for an end to random assassinations of innocent people. Through a combination of modest membership fees, GoFundMe, and public and private donations, we raise tens of millions of dollars. With that money, we purchase hordes of guns and ammunition from available sources, stripping their shelves bare. Then, we turn over the guns to local police or, in the spirit of the Sons of Liberty, publicly dispose of them en masse.

Finally, we rely on the law of supply and demand to work its magic. As inventory becomes scarcer, the price of guns and ammo will rise—hopefully past the point where the average person can afford one. Today, an AR-15-style military automatic rifle costs an average $700 to build and about $900 over the counter, with a price of about 75 cents per round. The Glock 43X, arguably the most popular handgun in America, retails for about $450, with a cost of about 16 cents per round. Scarcity should push up their prices on an order of magnitude.

No, this strategy isn’t going to reduce the number of guns in America. That’s a closed book; we are and will remain an armed camp for at least this generation. But over time I believe it could drastically make it harder to purchase a gun legally, without government infringing on what the Supreme Court has declared a right under the Second Amendment.

All over the world, responsible nations are pursuing long-range solutions to forestall human-caused climate disaster. Elsewhere, extreme religion fanatics are patiently taking the long haul to implement their theocratic dreams. Aping them since the Goldwater years is the American right, in its zeal to eliminate the social, political, educational, and economic advances of the last 75 years.

We must take the same far-reaching long view and realize that a truly effective solution to American endemic gun terrorism will take decades. As the song says, we have to hang on till then as best as we can.

Why do it this way? It’s like planting a tree: You may never see it grow into a leafy oak, but maybe your great-grandchildren will be able to relax in its shade.

Top photo of rifles on display in a gun shop by Nomad_Soul, available via Shutterstock.

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  • A reasonable strategy

    This is one of those practical suggestions that I believe may have a lot of merit. One of the reasons I have to bring back the assault weapons ban is not that it will reduce the number of guns in circulation, but that the inability to legally sell them will make them astronomically expensive. I think, but cannot prove, that to be one of the reasons the assault weapons ban was (arguably, demonstratively) effective, and why gun deaths exploded (no pun intended) after it sunset.