Back to previous page

Establishing the cost of our gun culture

Regarding the Dec. 31 news article “Obama seeks action on guns within a year”:

If you want to bear arms, you should also bear at least part of the consequences.

Right or wrong, since the Supreme Court issued its opinion in D.C. v. Heller in 2008, a practical problem with implementing gun control is that the direct approach will run into legal roadblocks. But the magic of the legal system is that it provides many creative alternatives to the direct approach.

Remember that the Affordable Care Act survived constitutional challenges by turning a fine into a tax, and the tobacco lobby eventually had to accept extraordinary taxes on cigarettes so that a bigger share of their societal cost could be shifted to where it belongs — on smokers themselves.

Taxing ammunition and even weapons to pay for their cost to society should be on the conservative agenda. Imposing products liability will encourage the litigation industry to do what needs to be done. And imposing insurance obligations as a “tax” on owners, sellers, gun-show organizers, users and manufacturers so they can bear the real cost of our gun culture would provide the pot of money that will attract the litigation industry.

The indirect approach wouldn’t be efficient, but it could definitely affect behavior.

John W. Toothman, Great Falls


Regarding Thomas A. Shannon’s Jan. 1 letter on gun control:

None of Mr. Shannon’s problems with the “air-headed” proposals to permit teachers to carry weapons exist: Schools would incur no expense or lost teaching hours, because teacher volunteers should have to complete a private training course at their own expense.

No one would need to bolster “the psychological framework of teachers to shoot another human being,” because only men and women willing to use lethal force to protect innocents would opt to carry.

Where to “store the gun in a secure place”? The teacher would, of course, carry the firearm at all times, in a concealed holster. Finally, a school district’s liability for an allegedly negligent teacher could be addressed legislatively (similar to laws that insulate “Good Samaritans”).

But even if a district could be held responsible for the acts of an armed teacher, that is hardly a reason not to protect our children from gun-wielding cowards. The real “guiding idea” is that gun-free zones too easily become comfort zones for murderers, who unsurprisingly select venues where all the good guys are unarmed. Let’s change that.

Michael Underhill, Vienna

© The Washington Post Company