People who own guns in the United States
will probably resist registering themselves and their guns.
But in many places they are already licensed and registered.
Such systems of knowing who owns guns and where they are stored
will benefit all members of society, including the law-abiding gun-owners.

    In answer to the claim that universal registration is impossible,
we need merely to recall that all licensed drivers are already registered.
In the USA, there are more drivers than gun-owners.
And all vehicles on the roads and highways are also registered.
We have no problem with: "Register all drivers and their cars."

    Following the example provided by cars and drivers,
individual states will probably register guns and their owners,
provided that these records can be shared among states as necessary.
Or perhaps local police departments will register
all people who have guns within their jurisdictions.








If the states and/or localities register
all people who own guns
and their guns
everyone in the USA will be safer.
Some people will surrender their guns
because they know they will be safer without guns in the house.
Some people will discover that they cannot buy guns
because they cannot explain why they need them.
If bullets are only sold to registered gun-owners
(and only for the guns they have also registered),
then ammunition sales will be sharply reduced.
And violence committed with guns will diminish.


by James Leonard Park


    People who are permitted to own and use guns
must first be trained in the various skills needed
to keep themselves and their families safe from their own guns.

    Just as prospective drivers of motor vehicles
must be trained and tested to be permitted to drive on public roads,
prospective gun-owners must be trained and tested
to make certain that they can shoot their guns safely.

    There are costs involved with gun-training,
just as there are costs associated with learning to drive a car
proving that one is able to operate the machine safely,
and getting a license to drive.

    There should be both public and private ways to learn gun-safety.
But the final test before a gun-license is issued by the state
must be a state-administered test of actually using the firearm.
Only people who are able to shoot with a defined level of accuracy
should be licensed to own and operate firearms.

    As with drivers' licenses, the registration of gun-owners
should include having their pictures taken every five years
or whenever they change their place of residence. 

    As with vehicles that can operate on public roadways,
gun-owners should be licensed to shoot certain classes of guns.
Being able to operate a four-wheel car
does not automatically mean that one can handle an 18-wheel truck.
The training and licenses are different for each particular skill.

    Licenses to own and use guns should be kept in on-line data-bases,
which will discourage attempts by criminals to create false gun-licenses.
And the accuracy of the data-base must be improved continuously.

    Whenever new guns are purchased or old guns are transferred,
the seller should be required to consult the on-line data-base
to make certain that the prospective buyer is properly identified
and is licensed to own and shoot that kind of gun

    And whenever ammunition is purchased,
the seller should be required to verify the buyer's identity
using the on-line data-base, which includes the buyer's picture.
And the ammunition-buyer will only be permitted
to buy a reasonable number of bullets (or shells for shotguns).
This will prevent him or her from buying bullets or shells
for others who want to remain unknown
and/or who are still trying to hide unregistered guns.

    Certain convicted felons will never be permitted to own guns again.
Once they are released from prison,
their names, addresses, & pictures should be maintained
in the on-line data-base of all gun-owners,
just in case they try to buy or own guns under some false name.
Face-recognition software should help to identify
convicted criminals attempting to buy guns.

    Most felony convictions should include
the permanent loss of the right to own guns. 
When released from prison,
these persons will be forced to 'go-straight'
because their former criminal way of life required guns.
They will have to adopt new life-styles similar to the ways of life
now lived by the millions of Americans who own no guns.

    Foreign nationals not yet registered with the U.S. government
should also be prohibited from owning or possessing guns
But once citizens of other countries have registered themselves
with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
they might be permitted to own and shoot firearms
if they can prove good reason for having guns in their possession
and if they are properly licensed to own and shoot guns.

    Thus, the gun-registration data-base should be created so that
it can be easily integrated into the national data-base
of all persons living in the USA
citizens and non-citizens,
old and young, gun-owners and non-gun-owners.
When the National Identity Bureau is created,
it will automatically include the facts about gun-licenses and guns owned.
And each person prohibited from owning guns
should be marked as "no guns".
Once Directory USA is complete,
listing every man, woman, & child in America
it would become the only place to make a background check
of the right to own guns.

    People who have good reasons to own guns in the United States
will bear all the costs associated with creating and updating all the facts.
And people who claim to own guns for hunting
should be required to show that they have licenses to hunt.


    All states of the United States already have hunting regulations.
Usually these include the purchase
of an annual hunting license for each kind of hunting
(deer, water fowl, bear, wolves, etc.).

    In order to get a hunting license, the hunter should pass a written test
and prove that he or she can handle a gun in the field.
The would-be hunter pays all the costs
of education, testing, & certification.
And the hunter must pay whatever annual fee is required by each state.

    Hunting is permitted only during prescribed time-periods
set each year by the state agency responsible for preserving wildlife.

    Hunters often go to another state to do their hunting:
If hunting deer, they go to where the deer will be found.
And out-of-state residents are required to have a hunting license
issued by the state where they do their hunting.

    Because Minnesota is largely a rural state with lots of woodlands,
there are many more hunting licenses issued in Minnesota
than if only Minnesotans were registered with the state.
Hunting is a major draw for tourists.  

    Without changing any of the existing hunting rules and regulations,
gun-ownership could be integrated with the laws about hunting.
The identity of hunters would be easy to establish
by looking at their pictures in the on-line registry of gun-owners.

    To get a hunting license for any form of hunting with firearms,
the hunter would have to be a registered gun-owner.

    The education and training already required for a hunting license
could be deemed sufficient to qualify one to be a gun-owner.
If the field-testing of the prospective hunter has been comprehensive,
then that should be sufficient to qualify that person to be a gun-owner. 
Each state should examine the programs required by other states
to see if they are sufficiently rigorous
to allow the gun-owner to buy a hunting license in any specific state.

    And hunting licenses could include the complete identification
of the firearms to be used by each hunter.

    Like licenses to drive, hunting licenses should be renewed periodically,
which will include eye-tests to make sure the hunter can still see
and any other tests that might discover
that this person can no longer be trusted to operate firearms safely.
If the hunter still has all the required skills and eye-sight,
the hunting license can be renewed for another period of years.


    Each gun ever manufactured is required to have a serial number,
which uniquely identifies that gun.
When guns are sold (either from gun retail stores or at gun shows),
they will not be taken home by the buyers.
Rather they will be shipped securely to the local police department
where the gun-owner lives (and is registered).

    When the gun arrives at the local police department,
it will be test-fired by a member of the police force.
And a sample bullet or two will be saved from this gun
and registered along with the serial number of the gun. 

    A universal registration of bullet 'fingerprints'
will also be created from these bullets.
This will allow the police to trace any bullet found at a crime-scene
to the specific gun from which that bullet was fired. 
Such automatic tracing will greatly reduce guns used in crimes,
since the criminals will know in advance
that their bullets might be traced back to them. 

    The registration of guns should begin with new purchases of guns:
New guns should be shipped first to the local police department,
which will make certain that it goes into the hands
only of the registered gun-owner,
who has been properly identified
and who is also licensed to own and to shoot that gun.

    The local police will compare the face
of the person who comes to pick up the new gun
with the face in the data-base of registered, licensed gun-owners.
And the police will keep a record of the date on which this particular gun
was handed over to this identified and licensed gun-owner

    And the visit to the police department to pick up one's new gun
would be an excellent time to check to see
if there are any current warrants for the arrest of this person.
Having a national data-base will facilitate
checking for warrants in other jurisdictions.
And this might also be a good opportunity
to take a new picture of the gun-owner.

    All such checking and registering will not offend law-abiding gun-owners.
But those who have engaged in criminal activity
might be reluctant to go to the police department to pick up their new guns.
They should be asked to prove once again their reasons for having guns.

    Gun-owners who have unregistered guns at home
will be required to take them to their local police
for test-firing and registration.
If the guns are not registered, these gun-owners should not be permitted
to buy any additional bullets or shells for these guns.
And defined penalties will be applied to people with unregistered guns.

    Registration of gun-owners will be similar to the
registration of licensed drivers.
Each state keeps the particulars of each driver updated
as he or she moves to a new location, for example.

    And the same will be true of the registration of gun-owners.
Their pictures will be recorded (and updated every five years)
right along with all of the guns they own. 

    Of course, this will lead to underground traffic in unregistered weapons.
And new laws might have to be enacted
to control all dimensions of the illegal gun trade.
Requiring identification of the buyer of any ammunition
will also help prevent gun-violence.

    Whenever the police discover a gun anywhere,
they should check to see if that gun is registered
and if the person in possession of the gun is registered to own it
If either the gun or the person is not registered and/or licensed,
then a crime has been committed,
which might be added to the other crimes being investigated. 
Universal gun-registration and owner-licensing
will make the work of the police much easier
and more effective.
How many arrested criminals will also be guilty
of being unregistered gun-owners and
posssessing unregistered guns?


    Because each gun must be registered to one particular gun-owner,
then a computer can uncover who owns an unusual number of guns.
Each gun-owner will have stated a set of reasons for owning guns.
And if the number of guns in his or her possession seems too great
for those stated purposes, then further investigation is needed. 

    In this way, some mass-murderers will be discovered
before they can go on a rampage, killing several people. 

    Of course, reasonable explanations will include such things as:
(1) I am a gun dealer, engaged in legitimate gun-commerce.
(2) These guns are owned by the police department;
they will be registered to individual police officers in due course.
(3) These guns are owned by the U.S. Army;
they will be registered to individual soldiers when they are assigned.


    When people register to be gun-owners,
they must explain why they want to possess guns.
The well-known reasons will be the most common:
hunting, gun-sports, & self-defense.
All of the prospective gun-owners can be expected to offer such reasons.

    Local law-enforcement will be the place to register gun-owners.
This means the police department in most urban locations.
In rural areas, the county sheriff's office is probably the appropriate place
to register gun-owners and their guns.

    These law-enforcement officials will have to develop expertise
for determining the validity of the reasons for wanting to own guns.

    Most immediate would be checking for any criminal record
for the person who is applying for permission to own guns.
Of course, such checking should include ways of discovering
any criminal convictions anywhere else.
Convicted felons should never be permitted to own guns.

    But even more difficult will be identifying which applicants
should be turned down because they are out of touch with reality.

    Deeper exploration of the thinking processes of mass murderers
will help to discover what signs should have been noticed by others
before these young men went on their rampages of killing.

    Individuals who fit the emerging profile of mass murderers
will be subject to deeper investigation.
The more completely we understand the 'reasons' behind mass murder,
the better we will be able to prevent such crimes in the future.

    The civil liberties of gun-owners must be protected.
But the welfare of the general public must also be protected.
Thus, these opposing rights must be weighed against one another.
How much are we willing to curtail the right to own guns
in order to prevent the next mass murderer from getting guns? 

    The expression used here is "out of touch with reality"
rather than the more familiar terms drawn from medical care.
We know that most people who must be hospitalized
because their behavior (outside of controlled environments)
is too bizarre and irrational to pose a threat of violence.
They must be hospitalized for their own good
because they have demonstrated inability to cope with the real world.
And sometimes they are judged to be a slight danger to others.

    But the men who plot mass murder
are almost never found in hospitals for people
deemed dangerous to themselves and/or to others.

    Perhaps some new institutions will have to be created
to take care of people who have lost touch with reality
(or who never had any adequate grasp of the real world).

    Certainly, they should not be permitted to own any guns,
which they would need to kill dozens of people.

    Bans will be proposed (and some enacted) that will prevent everyone
from owning the guns preferred by mass murderers.
Such assault weapons are never appropriate for civilians to own.

    And the sheer amount of ammunition can also be controlled.
Internet sales of bullets should probably be stopped,
because it is so simple to pretend to be someone else on-line.
Proper identification of each buyer of ammunition
should be part of every such purchase.
And such lines-of-possession of the deadly materials
should be recorded permanently
so that they can be traced backwards after the next mass murder.

    One characteristic of mass murderers might be
their love of video games that involve shooting lots of characters
usually called "first person shooter" games.
The game offers lots of potential targets to 'kill'.
And a high score means the most characters killed.

    Of course, not everyone who loves such killing-games
will become a mass murderer in real life.
So, we should find ways to distinguish the players
who enjoy the games without owning any real guns
from those players who do in fact buy deadly guns and ammunition
and proceed to kill people gathered in public places.

    And under law in the USA, there must be at least one overt act
in preparation for a crime before anyone can be arrested.
The police department might be the agency that will discover
preparations for mass murder
when they find out that a certain household is accumulating
far too many guns and too much ammunition
than might be needed for the stated purposes of their gun-ownership.

     Questioning persons with suspicious amounts of firepower
will probably prevent several mass murders.

    In the USA, home arsenals are not needed.
When some gun-collections are taken away without good reasons,
we will learn how to separate the gun-owners
who are not a threat to public safety
from the gun-owners who are out of touch with reality.


    James Leonard Park is an independent writer.
Much more about him will be discovered on his website,
the last link below.

    See related on-line essays :

Six Ways to Diminish Gun-Violence

National No-Guns Registry:
One-Stop Background-Check

Created December 29, 2012; Revised 12-30-2012; 1-8-2013; 1-16-2013; 2-20-2013;
1-3-2014; 3-7-2014; 3-10-2014; 5-26-2014; 8-8-2014;
1-27-2015; 12-4-2015; 6-14-2016; 10-2-2017; r 11-9-2017; 11-22-2017; 4-6-2019;

Has this essay changed your thinking about gun-control?

Did you originally think that it would be impossible
to register all gun-owners and their guns?
Given the fact that all drivers and cars are registered,
does it now seem more possible that we could do the same
for all trained gun-owners and their guns?
Does it seem worth the costs and burdens
to prevent just a few unnecessary killings?
How many mass-shootings would have been prevented
if the principles articulated here had been in place at the time?

Go to UU sermons concerning gun-violence and gun-control:

Go to other on-line essays by James Park,
organized into 10 subject-areas.

The essay above has now become a chapter in a book called:
Fixing America
several additional ways to make a better future

Go to the beginning of this website
James Leonard Park—Free Library