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Gun owners have nothing to fear from laws that enforce responsible ownership 

Forget the fear of someone taking your guns away; it is simply not going to happen. (If the government wanted to confiscate our guns, they certainly have the physical power to do so … imagine a U.S. Marine Corps fire team at your front door. You might resist, but you would not be successful.) 

We, as “responsible gun owners,” need to stop fearing “liberals” or “gun-ban” advocates. What we need are laws that truly create responsible gun owners, not fear and paranoia. 

Here is my plan. It will be difficult to implement, but would solve a lot of gun-related public issues. 

1. Every person wanting to purchase a gun must undergo a 12-hour training course. The course would be developed by the National Rifle Association, the FBI and local law enforcement. It would be thorough, demanding, consistent from state to state, comprehensive, and include a complete background check. The cost would be $50, and the fee would be refunded upon completion of the course, applied to an NRA membership, or used creatively to extend gun education at the local level. The current population of gun owners would have 36 months to complete the course. 

2. Upon course completion, the buyer can purchase as many guns as they desire, any configuration or caliber. Each gun is listed on a permit card and registered with the FBI for crime-prevention purposes. This process would be similar to the “proof of insurance” for your car. 

3. Selling a gun to anyone without a permit card or buying a gun from anyone without the card makes both parties subject to arrest. This includes retailers or gun-show sellers. Possession of a fake or altered card would be treated like being in possession of a fake driver’s license. 

4. Carrying or transporting a gun without the permit card makes the offender subject to arrest. 

5. Buy a new gun and your permit card is updated to indicate ownership. Sell a gun and this information is also recorded. Owners with a large collection would have a manifest listing all firearms in their collection. 

6. Stolen or transferred guns not reported will make the owner liable if the gun is used in a crime. Guns used in commission of a crime would be potentially trackable back to the source. 

7. Legal age to purchase a gun will match the state’s voter age law. 

8. Upon completion of the permit course, the owner may list the “legacy” or hand-me-down guns (like the shotgun your grandfather gave you) on his permit. This process would be required only if the owner wants to sell or pawn the firearm. Guns handed down or listed in a will make the recipient responsible for course completion before the firearm can be transferred. 

Some specifics could be determined at the state level. Examples might include laws eliminating high-capacity magazines, exempting .22-caliber firearms or those manufactured prior to 1950, etc. 

The cost of the training course could be used to support local law enforcement, finance safe practice ranges and training facilities, be applied to concealed-carry courses, or even to promote gun education or shooting clubs at the school level. 

We will never completely eliminate guns used by criminals and gangs. The criminal element will always find a way to get their hands on a firearm … steal one or buy one out of the trunk of someone’s car. But by beginning to carefully track the purchase and transfer of all firearms, we can limit the supply, or at least begin to understand the sources. 

We have no issue with the government knowing what cars we own, their VIN numbers, even who owns the note if we are making payments. 

We are required to pass a driver’s test, obtain a printed license with a photo, and acquire accident insurance. Drive without any of these requirements fulfilled and we are subject to arrest. We don’t want untrained or incompetent drivers speeding down the freeway. It is a life-and-death situation. 

But so are gun issues. The number of Americans killed by guns annually is roughly the same as those killed in auto accidents. More than 600 children are killed annually in gun-related accidents, this a statistic too horrible to even contemplate. 

Requiring a gun buyer to complete a tough and thorough gun-education program prior to purchase would reduce these horrible and senseless accidents. 

A person who allows their firearm to be stolen from an unlocked car, or fails to keep it away from children, is not a responsible gun owner. 

We talk about responsible gun ownership. We must make it a no-exception reality. At a minimum, we owe our children … and our community … this much. 

— Houck lives in DeLand. 

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