Let’s Whip Up Some Common Sense Gun Control! Weehaw!

As a total fantasy, because none of this is going to happen given our current Congress, let’s play a game of: how would Chuck Wendig do gun control? Like, if I had magical control over all governmental processes, how would I, a humble dipshit, control guns?

Let’s throw up some caveats, though, first.

First, I grew up around guns. My father operated a gun store and also was a gunsmith in his spare time. I reloaded ammo for him. We hunted. I still hunt. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I am no amateur. When I say I grew up around guns, I mean it — every room had at least one. The gunshop had a couple hundred. I got a new gun or knife damn near every Christmas. (Note: we never had any military-style “black rifles” around our house. My father didn’t like them, and he passed that feeling down to me.)

Second, let’s all gather around and remember that the Constitution is a living document. Not literally — it won’t fly around the room like a haunted specter, howling the Bill of Rights into your ear. I mean, it is a document meant to change — not easily, no, but it is doable. The Constitution is just a thing we made up. It isn’t a divinely-inspired document. God did not make America. Men did. Old, white guys from a couple centuries back. Jesus did not shit the Constitution into existence. Further, the Second Amendment isn’t an aperture that’s all-the-way open. That word, “well-regulated,” has (arguable) meaning. You can slippery slope it all you like, claiming that any regulations or restrictions on firearms is a restriction on the second amendment, but it’s too late. We already have restricted weapons. You cannot easily go buy an automatic weapon. (Contrary to popular belief, you can actually buy one. It just takes 6-9 months to get approved.) If any restrictions or regulations are in place on any firearm, then the slope is already slippery. It already happened. Barn door’s open. Horse is out. (Also note, Supreme Court declined to reconsider an assault rifle ban in CT.)

Third, banning individual weapons is a fraught path. You can ban certain models, but then there will just be new models. You can ban so-called “assault rifles,” but recognize that definition is more political than technical. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not on the train that anybody “needs” an AR-15. Sure, I know people like them for hunting, but I’m a little old school — you need an AR-15 for hunting, I’d suggest you learn to be a better hunter. (I have opinions about home defense, too, and I still don’t think you need one of those guns.) Just the same, the irony of regulating assault rifles is that they’re a small portion of the problem. You want to regulate them, but nobody says “boo” about handguns, which are the real problem. They’re concealable, semi-auto, and hold enough bullets to kill a bunch of people. A Glock 17 has 17 rounds in its magazine, and you can carry a bunch of magazines on you — okay, sure, it doesn’t afford the accuracy or stability that a semi-automatic rifle would, nor as many accessories, but you do earn the ability to easily conceal. Roughly 75% of gun homicides are committed with handguns.

Fourth, the folks who think “banning all guns” is the answer are, I fear, living in a unicorn world. Nearly 200 million firearms are out there. Somewhere between 40-50% of all households in America own a gun. We are a culture of gun owners. It’s in our pop culture, too. We all have a little Wild West blood in our veins. We’re all cowboys and scoundrels, all soldiers and cops. I know! It worked in Australia. It worked in the UK. And yet, those are relatively small countries comparatively. Plus, the United States is practically 50 little countries stapled together.

Fifth, I’m not sure insurance is the way to go — I’ve seen that a lot and I’ve posited it myself. I’m ignorant of how insurance works, but I have to imagine that insurance on weaponry is also a fraught path. Would an insurance company even have interest in that risk? Would the risk and the cost be so high that it would be a sneaky sideways ban on firearms? Maybe.

Sixth and finally, let’s get shut of the talk surrounding the terrorist watchlist. It’s a problematic list that contains a few thousand American names for reasons unknown.

Oh, and hey, one more: let’s also get shut of the paranoid delusion that we need our guns to revolt against our government. I appreciate that you think this is a good idea, but it is a child’s fantasy. Sure, maybe there will be some kind of apocalypse — some climate change ruination, some pandemic, some whatever — but I’d rather not legislate based on doomsday scenarios. We already have people dying in this country right now due to firearms. How about we worry about the problem in front of us rather than the imaginary zombies we fear will come clawing at our door? (Oh, and for the people who want to battle their own government, I’d argue that you should train less with guns and train more with computers. The government can outmatch you on the guns, son, but you could probably hack the shit out of their systems.)

SO, OKAY, with all that said, what do I, humble dipshit, do?

1.) Close up the secondary market loopholes. Right now, anybody can sell a gun to anybody and it isn’t tracked, nobody knows, it’s just a fluid de facto black market. You can go to a gun show and walk out with a gun because that person doesn’t need a license to sell and you don’t need a license to buy. And have you been to a gun show? Oh, you should go. You will see so much KKK and Nazi propaganda, it’s like a history lesson in horrible human beings. (I also grew up around gun shows, and once upon a time, they were not this way. But I’ve been to a couple since Obama has been elected and ha ha oh shit.) If I sell a car, I have to have the title (though there are ways to wriggle around that). A car is a less lethal, more functional device than a gun, and so suggesting that gun sales be tracked and titled — not really that extreme.

2.) Track all gun sales. All of them. Track all the guns. ALL OF THEM. Oh, I know, I know, you precious dears don’t want to be on “a list.” But you’re already on a bunch of them. You’re not ronin ninja sneaking in the dark-net off the grid, buddy. Got a social security number? A driver’s license? Any bank or credit card statements? You pay your taxes? You’re already on a buncha lists. And maybe, just maybe, you can stop clenching your sphincter about the gun list. The government is not going to use it to come and take away your guns. If you get all blustery about being on that list — a legal, above-board, non-criminal list — then I actually start to worry you’re going to kill somebody with that gun. You know who doesn’t worry about their name being on lists? Normal, run-of-the-mill, non-killery gun owners.

3.) Keep rifles and shotguns easy to procure, as in Canada. Also as in Canada, make it harder to get handguns and higher-capacity semi-auto rifles. They basically have, what, three categories in Canada? Non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited. For purposes of AMERICAN FREEDOM !!11! let’s get rid of “prohibited” here and simply create classes of restrictedness — you could, say, bump handguns and semi-auto rifles up to Title II, make them much harder to procure. I know, someone out there has a real itchy butthole that they might need to wait six months to buy a pistol or an AR-15, but some hunting licenses take a while to get, and if OMG I NEED A PISTOL TODAY TODAY TODAY it’s probably a good bet you’re raring to shoot someone. If you can say, “Yeah, I can wait six months to get that high-powered lead-spitting shooty-shooty death device,” I think I trust you a whole lot more than the guy who needs it holy shit right now.

4.) Wanna own a firearm? You need a firearm license. It’s like a driver’s license. It’s like a hunting license. It’s like a fishing license — oh, and let that sink in. You need a license to wiggle a worm in the water to catch a trout, but you don’t need a license to buy a machine that can push a projectile through someone’s face at 1100 feet-per-second. Yes, some of that has to do with conservation, but I’d go out on a limb and say we need to consider the conservation of human lives, too.

5.) A firearms license would be like a driver’s license — getting your license the first time would be subject to both training and testing. If it is reasonable to ask that people be trained when operating a vehicle, it is reasonable to ask that people be trained when operating a firearm. This is a win-win for everyone, by the way. The NRA is the one who does most of the training in this country, and would benefit. It would create new jobs. It would ensure that people with guns were trained with them — and would likely offer some training regarding defense with a gun, too. (The fact the NRA does not support training enforcement is to me the clearest indication they support gun manufacturers more than its members. Training helps everybody but the manufacturers.)

6.) Owning firearms of different restricted classes would not only require longer wait times but also more training and, I dunno, a stamp on your license.

7.) Universal background checks — but that could be tied into the licensing, too.

8.) Israel restricts the number of weapons you can have — it’s pretty strict, if I recall. One of each type, essentially, and only if you can show you belong in certain roles. That won’t fly here to that degree, and I can speak to the fact that hunters do in fact use more than one type of gun. Around here, you can’t use rifles to kill much of anything, so that means a 12 gauge for deer, a 20 gauge for birds, a .410 for squirrels. But, some limits could be reasonable on the number of firearms you can own in each class and at each restriction level — you have some ‘splainin’ to do if you need like, 20 handguns. Restricting the number potentially undercuts and identifies people who are hoarding arsenals.

9.) Tax ammunition — casings, bullets, powder, too. I know, you don’t wanna pay more for ammo, but newsflash: any time gun control measures come up for even the whisperiest whisper of debate, prices go up because of price gouging. You’re already paying more thanks to people selling them to you. I was at a gun show just after Obama got elected, and many of the sellers had warnings up at their stalls about how Obama was coming to take their guns (spoiler alert: he wasn’t), and the prices at those tables were jacked up to exorbitant levels.

10.) Restrict certain accessories. We already restrict some, so it’s not strange to want to make sure people can’t buy a drum mag for a rifle — if you need 100 bullets immediately accessible? No.

11.) Make sure all this works nationwide, not just state-to-state. Certainly states could increase the severity of the restrictions if the constituents so demand, but gun control really only works well when it crosses state borders. Also, help the CDC study gun violence. (The restriction against it is no longer in place, but the money for those studies is also not in place. We need to study gun violence and it is perfectly reasonable to do so. Science and data can save us if we let it.)

And that’s it. It’s a start. It’s common sense. It’s nothing particularly revolutionary — for the most part, it assumes if you’re a responsible, law-abiding gun owner, nothing really changes for you except for the interjection of bureaucracy. (And I know bureaucracy is a bad word, but effective bureaucracy is valuable, and far greater than chaos and gun death.) Yes, it makes it harder to get a gun. It should be be harder to get a gun. There’s nothing wrong with it being difficult to procure a weapon that can kill several people in the span of minutes — and let’s remember, firearms have one primary purpose, and that purpose is death and injury. Target shooting is just a proxy for shooting at living targets. Hunting and defense are both part of that equation, and hunting and defense are based on death and injury. (I don’t magically shoot meat out of a turkey and he gobbles merrily and runs on while I collect my bullet-harvested roast. This isn’t Minecraft.) So, if we are to assume that the role of a firearm is to throw metal really fast through flesh in order to injure, incapacitate or kill, then it is probably also safe to assume that there should be a few speedbumps and cross-checks for people wanting that ability.

For those folks who think this is either:

a) not enough


b) too much

I have this to say:

Political process is founded on compromise. What I’ve outlined is exactly that. It is middle-ground, common sense regulation — nothing particularly dramatic. Just meant to tighten things up — once upon a time, even someone like Reagan was on board with common sense controls. The NRA was, too. That’s all changed with the increased rhetoric in this country, and we need to cut that off at the knees — but you also have to recognize we can’t just snap our fingers and make the problem go away. Guns aren’t going to go to vapor. Gun culture isn’t going to just disintegrate, either. Any changes we make will have to be sensible and moderate.

But don’t worry, it doesn’t matter anyway. Nothing’s going to change and nobody’s going to do anything and the only needle that’s moving is the one marking the number of people killed.

I’ll also finish up with this:

Vote in November. You want to see change, that’s the only way to get it.

And don’t just vote this November.

Vote every November. Vote actively, eagerly, and every time you have the chance. Owning a gun is a freedom we’re so keen to protect, fine. We also must recognize that voting is a vital freedom, too, and we should be not only keen to protect that right — but also desperate to engage with the political process, because that’s the only way your voice is measured and heard. Not just through tweets, not through petitions, not through changed avatars. But voting.

Comments are on, but moderated.

Don’t get fighty. Don’t be a jerk. I will boot you into the spam oubliette because this is my house and I don’t mind hearing you squawk down there in the dark.

89 responses to “Let’s Whip Up Some Common Sense Gun Control! Weehaw!”

  1. At the end of the day all these rules come down to one basic principle: you have to respect the weapon and its capabilities.

    I grew up in New Zealand where it’s a perfectly acceptable practice to take a rifle or shotgun and go bunny shooting off the back of a ute with your friends as a teenager. I can hand to my heart say that never once while I was growing up in a culture that supports hunting and pest eradication with guns, did the thought ever cross my mind that somebody may turn that weapon against me.

    My husband hunts. I hunt with him. And as soon as our boys were old enough to start playing with guns, we taught them the basic principles of gun safety; we ensured they treated their weapons like the real deal. Don’t point it at another person, always carry it pointed toward the ground, never leave a loaded weapon lying around unsupervised.

    To obtain his gun licence, my husband had to sit a safety course and pass the theory test at the end. The police interviewed me to ensure he’s never shown signs of domestic violence, or ill-will toward certain races or groups. They interviewed one of his friends for a non-relative’s point of view. We had to show that we had lockable storage for the guns (a steel safe), and that the ammunition would be locked separately. Any weapon he bought was registered against his name.

    Here in Australia, to own a handgun, a rifle, or a semi-automatic weapon, you have to apply and pay for individual licences. As you suggest, weapons are limited by type and there are six categories they fit into, one of which is restricted. And again, to buy a gun you have to apply for a Permit to Acquire and prove not only why you need the gun, but what shooter’s club you belong to, and state where you’ll use it.

    None of what you suggested is unreasonable. It already happens down our end of the world, and it works well. Gun ownership isn’t a right, its a privilege. And if a person can’t understand that then I’m guessing they’re one of the, as you mentioned, ‘I need it TODAY, TODAY’ types that quite frankly I wouldn’t trust either.

  2. Just dropping in to say, as someone from a similar context (grew up around lots of guns in a rural area, still own some, still occasionally shoot for sport) I think your recommendations are pretty spot on. I’ve been campaigning for training-based licenses for a while now. So, yay Chuck! I agree with you on this fraught subject as well as less challenging things like your strange proclivities for bees.

    • See, I think a lot of us who grew up in what was “gun culture” twenty, thirty, forty years ago or more, a lot of us who’ve spent time around law enforcement and military, people for whom guns are tools and not fetish objects or toys, support reasonable regulation. All of my friends do, and I’m an old former military wife and most of my friends are vets and/or people with rural roots. Which makes the whole “gun owners will NEVER UNDERSTAND OUR FEAR” and “bleeding heart liberals will NEVER UNDERSTAND OUR FEAR” rhetoric just make me tear my hair out. I’m a bleeding heart liberal. Also a former farmer and hunter who learned to shoot from my daddy when I was four. I was on a nationally competitive high school rifle team. I enjoy target shooting and hunting and I love rural gun-loving people and I would like a national registry and licensing now plz, and I have been singing this song for twenty damn years.

  3. Australian here – what gave you the idea we banned all guns? there is a gun shop around the corner from me owned by a gold medal winning Olympic shooter. Might want to look a bit more into exactly what the deal is in other countries before speaking on it.

  4. As an Australian, I feel it necessary to point out that guns are not illegal here. There was no outright gun ban, just strict regulation. I know plenty of people who own and use guns within the law.

    When the issue of gun control comes up in the US, far too often I see people addressing the issue making a point that ‘Taking away everyone’s guns and making it completely illegal is bad.’ However, I haven’t, for the life of me, seen anyone in their right mind suggesting such a solution. As I said, I’m not American, so maybe they are, but it seems ludicrous that it comes up so often. It’s not like there’s only two states: near completely un-regulated gun ownership OR Barrack Obama himself kicks down your door and takes your guns. That is an utterly false dichotomy.

    Even in a place referenced as having some of the strictest gun laws in the world, there are still guns here. In Australia, people still hunt, people undertake recreational shooting, police still use them. They are not illegal so long as you have the paperwork, and they are definitely not all gone. Our response has proven effective.

    • “I haven’t, for the life of me, seen anyone in their right mind suggesting such a solution”

      No one is. Like most talking points in American politics, it’s a strawman designed to rally up a core base of paranoid idiots. It never seems to matter how transparently disingenuous it is.


    “Is he liberal or republican?”


    “But he’s just some guy with a blog and some books–”

    “WENDIG FOR PRESIDENT! No, let’s change America from a democracy into a monarchy and crown him KING! THEN WE SHOULD ASSIST HIM IN WORLD DOMINATION! A peaceful domination, of course.”

    “I don’t think that exists–”


    “This shall end in only two ways: apocalyptic disaster or… never mind, forget about the other way, it doesn’t exist.”


    But really, this is very refreshing to read. Lots of people are either “NO GUNS, GUNS ARE EVIL, IT’S THE GUNS NOT THE PEOPLE, HAVING NO GUNS WILL GET RID OF ALL OF OUR PROBLEMS” or “ALL OF THE GUNS IMMEDIATELY RIGHT NOW! IF YOU TAKE AWAY EVEN ONE I’LL… well I won’t shoot anyone (hopefully) BUT I WILL GO ON A MAD RANT AND ALL OF THE PROTESTS!!!1!”.

    This is the middle ground. Not only that, but it makes sense. If only this was a thing that was actually happening right now… Sigh. One can only hope..! C’mon, America, make it happen!


  6. What Chuck said plus all guns have to be painted orange or pink. No change in functionality at all. If the functionality of the gun for hunting sport or home defense is the reason we must have ALL the guns, fine. I would like them only in orange or pink. There was a White House petition that was signed by 100k+ people supporting this.

  7. I like this. I’m Australian and I feel kind of tired every time someone brings up The Australian Solution like it’ll work everywhere. It worked really well for us! But the US is not Australia, Australia has never had the same kind of gun culture that the US has now. By and large, Americans in 2016 are going to react differently to hard gun control and a forced buyback to the way Australians did in 1996. Different time, different country.

  8. Interesting post and it makes it easier to understand a rational American’s views on gun ownership. Living in a country with virtually no access to any firearms, America’s problem with them is sometimes hard to understand but this was definitely a good read in that respect.

    I also wanted to point out though that guns are a terrible weapon choice against zombies. They reveal your position, attract the horde and ammunition will run out sooner than you think. Be smart, America, you need another zombie contingency plan!

  9. I’m thrilled to see more people saying things like this Chuck. You’ve pretty well outlined ALL of the points I’ve been saying for years…

    I’d add the notion of using license and registration fees going into a pool to fund education, research, and to help victims of violence present and future.

    (A side note… much of the taxes on ammunition, at least in my state of NY, funds our park system, not saying we can’t increase those taxes, but … there are actually already taxes on those)

    I went through a more than a yearlong process in NY state to obtain a handgun permit… and any handgun I wanted to purchase would be tagged ON my permit. I experience no hardship from this, seriously.

    Also, for those of my fellow gun owners who advocate concealed carry and the “Good guy with a gun” concept… fine. If you want to keep that going, let’s see mandatory tactical response training with rolling updates. We don’t let you (technically) perform CPR without training in this country. CPR. An activity which is performed on someone who is already, essentially, dead. Like, look… I’m sorry. If you want to be a private distributed police force, you should expect to be held to the training standards.

  10. I agree with 100% of this.

    The person claiming the “right” to unrestricted access to any deadly weapon, at any time, without a background check or waiting period or license or training, is exactly the person who shouldn’t have ANY guns. Probably shouldn’t have a driver’s license, either. We want that fucker to have to take the bus, where there are security cameras on his crazy ass.

  11. A very thoughtful piece and I have strong feelings in support of regulations but I would settle for this. Are you sure you don’t want to try your hand at participating in writing public policy, Chuck?

    “If you want to understand any problem in America, you need to focus on who profits from that problem, not who suffers from the problem.” – Dr. Amos Wilson

    The problem is not lack of solutions, the problem is that the solutions would require congress to deny their true constituents – lobbyists who represent corporations. We are officially living in an Oligarchy signed, sealed and delivered to us by Citizens United. Until that changes, nothing will change. In fact, things are getting worse. While everyone was defending the 2nd amendment, the 4th amendment was destroyed this week. Welcome to the Police State, everyone. Police officers can now stop you on the street, demand your papers even if you are doing nothing wrong and anything they find can be used in a court of law. http://www.salon.com/2016/06/20/police_can_use_illegally_obtained_evidence_in_court_scotus_rules_sabotaging_4th_amendment/
    I, for one, am not standing by and doing nothing. I will vote but I am part of a movement to replace all 535 members of congress in one fell swoop. I want a government that represents the interests of the people of this country, not corporations. If that appeals to you, if you want to take positive action, then check out http://www.brandnewcongress.org It is a bi-partisan effort to elect officials who will represent the people, not the corporations.

  12. Owning a gun shouldn t be an issue but if a person thinks its the only way to resolve issues whether political,social or even religious then guns become a weapon.

  13. All of your suggestions would work, Chuck – in fact, all of them DO work, because that’s pretty much how the UK operates when it comes to gun control (all guns aren’t flat-out banned in the UK, but you have to jump through a lotta hoops to get the ones you ARE allowed to get, hoops of the type you’ve suggested.)
    One of the counter-arguments that’s often thrown at us here in the UK by pro-gun lobbies is “Oh, but you have a lot more knife crime in the UK compared to the USA.” Well, yeah, we have crazies who like killing people too so that’s possibly true, but here’s the thing: you can harm a lot more people a lot more quickly with a gun than a knife, because a person with a knife has to be right up next to another person to inflict any damage, while a person with a gun can fire away at range and hurt a lot of people before anyone can get near them.
    Please stand for president. The UK would totally love you as a commander-in-chief, and we’re all slightly scared you guys might end up with Trump instead.

  14. Interesting piece. Lots of praise from others and oddly many from other countries and other cultures. I am not so impressed. The seeming reasonableness of your proposal is confounded by the reality of collateral impact. The systems and processes required to manage and administrate this animal would be almost comically expensive and likely another epic example of government silliness. I say that as a 26 year government employee wearing a badge and gun.
    Imagining we could put this system in place and create a giant oversight entity and an entire new commerce element where all the components of this including training and licensing would be approved we more ahead. We cannot control the influx of people and illegal narcotics into this country. That includes knock offs of virtually every conceivable product from purses to DVDs. Its the Acme of folly to think a black market more vast and more profitable than forum sales or the collectors at gun shows will not almost immediately develop. Guns and ammo will become the new crack cocaine.
    Which leads me here: All this regulation applies to people to elect to abide by the law. Laws don’t compel compliance they just define the things that if you are caught doing you can potentially be punished for having done. Criminals are indifferent to the law and regulations. Someone bent on a today’s homicidal / suicidal mission is as concerned about these regulations as he is his next months credit card bill.

    You use the license to drive as an example. I submit nobody has to get a license to breed. The unplanned, unloved, and unguided members of society is an ever growing segment of the population and there in lies the problem. Humans who lack empathy, compassion, and self restraint. We don’t have a reasonable solution for that hard reality so we regulate and I dare say punish those who will comply because their moral and ethical compass points true.

    Sure all you suggest could be done with great effort and expense. It sounds like a good idea. Likes of things do and many of them become law. They simply don’t solve the problem.

  15. I agree with a lot of the article although I do take issue with the fishing license analogy. Fishing licenses have nothing to with making sure you know how to fish, it is simply a revenue stream for the government.

  16. Thank you, Chuck. For myself, I don’t worry at all about people who own guns. I worry about people who talk about owning guns incessantly, and express fears that government is going to “take them away.” Sort of as if “the love of guns is the root of all gun crimes” or something like that.

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