[Found in a dumpster behind the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio - the first draft of Dan Simpson's gun control public policy masterpiece]
LAST week's tragedy at Virginia Tech in which a mentally disturbed person gunned down 32 of America's finest - intelligent young people with futures ahead of them - once again puts the phenomenon of an armed society into focus for Americans.
Let's do the math: (a) those two Virgina Tech guns killed an average of 16.5 people; (2) by conservative estimates, 240 million guns are wandering aimlessly around America's mean streets; therefore (iii) when these crazy guns finally snap, they will kill (16.5 x 240 million) = 4 billion people -- wiping out not only Virginia Tech, but the entire ACC and NCAA Division I-A itself. In this post-gun apocalypse there won't be enough survivors to bury the dead, let alone fill a decent bracket at the NCAA basketball tournament.
Obviously something must be done to stop this impending March Madness. But when people talk about doing something about guns in America, it often comes down to this: "How could America disarm even if it wanted to? There are so many guns out there."
To this smart-alecky question, a sane person would retort, "what difference does it make what America wants to do?" But, because I have little or no power to influence the "if" part of the issue, I will stick with the "how," and later I will move on to the "even." And before anyone starts to hyperventilate and think I'm some wacky crazed liberal zealot wanting to pry his precious gun from his cold, dead hands, I would first like to share my experience of guns, before outlining my commonsense plan for taking your guns.
As a child I played cowboys and Indians with cap guns. By the time I was 8 I had over 500 confirmed Injun kills notched in the stock of my Daisy Red Ryder, including Chuckie "Big Chief Running Bear" Petersen, despite his stubborn 54-year refusal to acknowledge, to this day, that I picked 'em off at the swing set, Tom Mix-style. My father had in his bedside table drawer an old pistol which I examined surreptitiously from time to time. In this same drawer, my father also kept his collection of Stag magazines, which I also enjoyed examining. It was in that magical bedside drawer I discovered my two lifelong loves: searching for guns, and masturbation.
When assigned to the American embassy in Beirut during the war in Lebanon, I sometimes carried a .357 Magnum, which I could fire accurately. I also learned to handle a variety of weapons while I was there, including Uzis and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, which was I probably less accurate with (sorry Abdul's Dry Cleaners!). But the bottom line is, I was ready to pop a cap, if necessary, in something's ass.
I don't have any problem with hunting, although blowing away animals with high-powered weapons seems a pointless, no-contest affair to me. To me, hunting would seem to be more sporting and "macho" if the hunter would drop their "gats" and rassle their prey "mano-a-paw-o." But I suppose I would enjoy the fellowship of the experience with other friends who are hunters. I often imagine me and my hunting friends gathered around the hunting campfire, sharing manly hunting tips and bonding over hearty moose sandwiches. But I'm just sort of conjecturing here, because I don't really have a lot of friends.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the disarming the American population plan thing. First of all, federal or state laws would need to make it a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in prison per weapon to possess a firearm. The population would then be given three months to turn in their guns, without penalty. As an added incentive, all owners tuning in guns would receive money saving coupons for Whole Foods and a gift subscription to Utne Reader.
Hunters would be able to deposit their hunting weapons in a centrally located arsenal. It would be heavily guarded, by heavy guards. The hunters would be able to withdraw their guns each hunting season upon presentation of a valid hunting license. The weapons would be required to be redeposited at the end of the season on pain of arrest, with substantial penalties for early withdrawl. When hunters submit a request for their weapons, federal, state, and local checks would be made to establish that they had not been convicted of a violent crime since the last time they withdrew their weapons. To insure the guards are not gun-nut double agents, each of these guards would be guarded by two meta-guards who would themselves be made to rub gravel in their hair and hold their palms over open flames as a test of loyalty to the disarmament cause. Also, these arsenal staff would take at least a quick look at each hunter to try to affirm that he was not obviously unhinged.
It would have to be the case that the term "hunting weapon" did not include anti-tank ordnance, assault weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, or other weapons of war, which would be restricted only for use by the upper echelon of super guards.
All antique or interesting non-hunting weapons would be required to be delivered to a local or regional museum, also to be under strict 24-hour-a-day guard, with non-foggable invisible laser beams and razor wire in the air ducts to foil Tom Cruise-style cat burglars. There they would be on display, if the owner desired, as part of an interesting exhibit of antique American weapons, as family heirlooms from proud wars past or as part of collections. Non-interesting guns would be melted down and welded into interesting abstract sculptures of some sort by local artists. Family disarmament museum memberships would be $1000, which will entitle members to free parking and discount merchandise at the disarmament gift shop and snack bar, and snack bar personnel would be instructed to notify authorities of suspicious snack bar behavior.
Gun dealers could continue their work, selling hunting and antique firearms. They would be required to maintain very tight inventories, and file detailed reports to various authorities. Also, any gun sold would be delivered immediately by the dealer to the nearest arsenal or the museum, not to the buyer. Imagine the pride of gun owners, knowing their fresh guns will be on display in a prestigious, guarded, Frank Gehry-designed museum instead of laying on the coffee table of their trailers!
The disarmament process would begin after the initial three-month amnesty. Then, special squads of police would be somehow formed and trained to carry out the work. Then, on a random basis to permit no advance warning, BLAMMO! city blocks and stretches of suburban and rural areas would be cordoned off and searches carried out in every business, dwelling, and empty building, bedside drawer, farm field, tree, culvert, bush, stalactite cave, water tower, and body cavity. The special squads would receive special training in scuba, spelunking and interrogation techniques. All firearms would be seized. The owners of weapons found in the searches would be prosecuted: $1,000 and one year in prison for each firearm. The gun owner prison should probably be put between the museum and the arsenal for efficiency, such as for guard training and so forth.
Clearly, since such sweeps could not take place all across the country at the same time. But fairly quickly there would begin to be gun-swept, gun-free areas where there should be no firearms. After the sweeps are done, the special squads would put big signs all over the swept area that said "NO GUNS HERE" in order to restore public calm. For signs, maybe the special squads could use something like the big inflatable gorilla like the one I saw atop Lakeside Subaru last week, when I was getting the oil changed on my Impreza.
But, just in case any wiseacres in the swept areas somehow figured out how to avoid seizure, anybody carrying guns would be subject to quick confiscation and prosecution. On the streets it would be a question of stop-and-search of anyone, even grandma with her walker, with the same penalties for "packing." The roaming squads of special police have a question for Grandma: do you feel lucky, you depends-wearing punk?
Obviously, no plan is perfect, and certain details will have to be ironed out. For example, many of you are probably wondering, "where are we going to get the money to pay for all these museums and arsenals and special squads and guards and meta-guards and gift shops?" Well, for one, $1000 per firearm means we could probably offer a nice commission program for the special squads, say 10%. At $100 per gun and/or dead gun scofflaw, that's a pretty sweet payday if you're in the special squad biz. In fact I think we could probably contract the whole deal, at very competitive cost, to various special squad outsourcers in China or Malasia.
Also, I guess the crybaby "gun lobby" would no doubt try to sulk off to the courts and try to stop the new laws and the special squads. They might succeed in doing so, and that's why courts could be cordoned off and additional sweeps conducted for legal briefs and so on, with a $1000 fine per brief.
America's long land and sea borders present another kind of problem. It is easy to imagine mega-gun dealerships installing themselves in Mexico, and perhaps in more remote parts of the Canadian area, to funnel guns into the United States. These self-installing gun marts would constitute a problem, but not an insurmountable one over time. For example, we could use all that $1000 fine money to pay the Mexico and UN and Canadia police squads to arrest American-looking types who wander too close to the Tijuana MegaGunMart.
There could conceivably also be a rash of score-settling during hunting season as people drew out their weapons, ostensibly to shoot squirrels and deer, and began eliminating various of their perceived two-footed enemies. Should hunting be banned? The American people will have to decide what they fear most: furry woodland squirrels, or being tracked down by a crazed Ted Nugent in his own personal remake of "The Most Dangerous Game"?
That is my idea of how it could be done. The desire to do so on the part of the American people is another question altogether; fortunately this could probably be answered by additional $1000 non-desire fines.