This proposal is intended to answer both the need for some kind of gun regulatory framework (because there should be no power without accountability) and the the 2nd amendment right to bear arms.
- 1. All firearm licenses to be issued by local gun clubs (aka "well-regulated militia")
- 2. Local gun clubs to be authorized and administered by popular vote of the surrounding community.
- That is to say: the community would regularly vote whether reauthorize the club, and would also vote for officers to to the day-to-day administration.
- The use of liquid democracy in the voting process would make this less of an opportunity for political manoeuvring.
- 3. When someone commits a crime with a licensed gun, the issuing gun club is held partly responsible and can lose their license if they can't defend their decision.
- The exact context in which this defense should take place is a tricky matter; there are a lot of considerations to balance -- but an inquest would seem like a good model.
- 4. Significant factors in a gun club licensing trial would include:
- (a) training appropriate for each type of gun an individual is licensed to purchase
- (b) knowledge of that individual's emotional stability
- (c) severity of the crime.
- 5. Some types of weaponry may not be issued to individuals in peacetime, but may be owned by the club as an organization.
- 6. Such types must be stored in club-owned facilities and only used in the presence of appropriate club officials.
It seems to me that this would be compatible with the idea of bearing arms as a defense against tyranny: If gun clubs are allowed to decide who may have a gun, and are ultimately only held accountable if one of their members abuses the privilege in some clearly defined way, then this would in no way prevent citizens from acquiring all the weaponry they might need in order to protect themselves from tyranny.
Not only that, but it would help create some social structure and community around firearm stewardship, making the idea of organizing armed defense against tyranny more plausible.
From the gun-control perspective, it would provide some personal accountability for those who make the decisions about who may purchase guns, and what types of guns they can be trusted with. There would also be more of a personal connection between the licensers and the licensees -- the licenser would not just be a faceless government operative, but perhaps someone the licensee knows. (Yes, there could be conflicts of interest there, but that's what the accountability is for.)
Gun clubs might become elitist and start denying gun licenses to people on arbitrary grounds such as race, lack of family connections, etc. If we make it too easy to start new clubs, on the other hand, then the accountability wouldn't mean anything. Perhaps there would need to be a democratic process for censuring gun club officers, after which they would be unable to run for gun-club office for a set amount of time. Also, open records would be kept on all gun club officers and the events which occurred within their stewardship.
There are definitely issues to be resolved, but I think it would be a far better system than what we have now, and stands a fair chance of stopping the stupid straw-man arguments about gun-control advocates trying to take away everyone's guns. (We could go there, if we can't work out something else, but nobody has been advocating for it yet .)
This was originally proposed on Google+ on 2012-07-30. The main objection was to item #2, which originally proposed state authorization of the clubs; I've modified that and added some explanations for this page.