Two Simple Laws Could Solve America's Epidemic of Violence

Two simple changes to U.S. law, both things based in other laws that we already know and like, could solve most of America's gun violence problem:

1. Treat all semi-automatic weapons in a similar way under the same laws as fully-automatic weapons.
2. Regulate gun ownership and usage the same way we regulate car ownership and usage.

Here's the backstory and how each would work:

Semi-Automatic Weapons

Back in the prohibition era, before and during the time John Dillinger and friends were shooting up American cities from New York to Chicago to San Francisco, the National Rifle Association approved of two very consequential laws that restricted gun ownership and use.

(The NRA didn't become a lobbying and promotional front group for the weapons industry until the 1970s when the Supreme Court's Buckley v. Valeo decision ruled that the #MorbidlyRich and wealthy gun-manufacturing corporations could legally buy and own their very own politicians. For nearly a century prior to that, the NRA supported rational gun control.)

The Uniform Firearms Act of 1931 in Pennsylvania was the harbinger of the federal 1934 National Firearms Act, which brought an end to the widespread legal availability of fully automatic "tommy guns," along with, later, silencers and sawed-off shotguns. But ownership of such used automatic weapons isn't really "banned" - it's just a somewhat complex process to get permission to own and use them.

First, you must find a local law enforcement officer who will vouch for you and perform a background check on you. His or her signature is the necessary first step to getting an Automatic Weapons Permit, and you must have an absolutely clean record, from a clean criminal record, to not owing any child support, to not having any past firearms violations. If you lie about this, or apply for your permit through a "clean" third party, you and your third-party could both end up in jail.

Then you need to pull together two sets of your fingerprints and two passport-type photos. Plus the $200 "tax stamp" fee for the permit. And get all the information you'll need on the gun you want to buy, including its serial number and details on its last owner.

Finally, you need to fill out...

Read more here.


Arrgy's picture
Arrgy 3 weeks 6 days ago

One thing! Reaganomics MUST be repealed!!! Everything wrong can be traced to his 8 years.

Kids are hopless without a job!!!

Legend 3 weeks 6 days ago

I watched some coverage today and Trumps meeting with students and others. Most solutions recommended by Republicans involve more guns. Arm teachers, station retired policemen at schools etc. This is exactly what the NRA wants. More guns sold. This is their sole objective. But who can predict the next venue for a mass killing? Did anyone expect a Country Concert? Will it be a baseball game? Or another school? You are going to run out of retired policemen. One thing is for sure, doing nothing is scheduling the next mass murder.

Outback 3 weeks 6 days ago

Hey Thom, wonderful Idea! Just as long as we impose all the same restrictions on automobile ownership. (Cars can be used as deadly weapons too, you know.) And just think about all the carnage caused by drunk and irresponsible drivers, not to mention potential terrorists could be prevented, when only one in ten would-be car owners could actually legally get their hands on one! Got a 30 year old misdemeanor charge for marajuana possession? Forget about ever driving again! Great thinkiing, Thom!!!

DrRichard 3 weeks 6 days ago

Some excellent ideas in general, but it is far too late for such control. There are far too many guns here and an AR-15 can be handmade from a kit (see last year's cover article in Harper's). Reasonable control is certainly needed, but it is of a piece with many other things that a corrupt Congress won't look at. Fix the money issues first and the rest will follow.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 3 weeks 6 days ago

I'm sorry Tom, but I'll have to agree with DrRichard. Too many guns out there already. And black markets will fill any void. We're going to have to turn our schools, malls, shops, etc., into fortresses. Adding tall walls, or hills with dirt and boulders. Have restricted points of entry. Do away with back packs by doubling the books: one at class, one at home. Have metal detectors and trap the shooter in human traps. And if all that doesn't work put sharp shooters if need be. The perpetrator has to be intimidated. Don't even TRY to pass laws.. The GOP(hies) don't even care if a kid or old man starves to death by taking away social safety nets. They only care about the F-'ing money.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 3 weeks 6 days ago

If you don't like my above idea, use the Internet as a classroom until the GOP(hy) party gets voted out. Then resume classroom activity once REAL laws are put in place by human Democrats.

Legend 3 weeks 6 days ago

#3. Cars were not designed to kill. Cars are registered to the owner and taxes are paid every year for their use. Registration is passed on after a sale. Cars are required to be insured for liability. You are required to pass a written and practical test to operate a car. There are severe penalties for DWI. And there are penalties for minor offenses such as speeding. I would agree to add these requirements to Guns.

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago
Kend's picture
Kend 3 weeks 5 days ago

I can't believe that pretty much every one of these mass murders where done by someone who was on some kind of drug and no one is even talking about it. The guns didn't kill people, people on drugs kill people. Why don't we talk about. Big pharmaceutical companies are making billions with this shit and no one seems to care. This will continue forever if we don't admit what is truly causing it. Doctors are handing out Opiods like freaking candy killing that are killing millions and costing tax payers billions.

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

Kend. this is one time that I will agree with you. Drugs are a huge issue. Who is in the drug industry pocketbook? Mostly Republicans. Do some research.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 3 weeks 5 days ago
thecarbguy's picture
thecarbguy 3 weeks 5 days ago

Hey Thom, While it is true that there are many semi-auto weapons out there, I think restrictions on the manufacture and sales of assault style weapons must be undertaken. A redesign of all semi-auto rifles is something I believe makes sense. No detachable magazines, regardless of capacity, should be allowed. whether 10, 20, 30, or more rounds. These can be changed rapidly even by someone with little proficiency. A five round integral magazine seems to me to be the best alternative. I have three World War I era bolt action rifles, two of which have this type of magazine. These reload by means of a "stripper clip", which, in my opinion, is all a sport shooter or hunter should need. Of course, these don't enlarge ones genitals quite as muh as those larger detachable magazines, but sacrifices must be made. Even Bubba needs to adjust for the greater good. The republiKKKons will, no doubt, run away from restrictions such as this. My "thoughts and prayers" are with those bastards.

Kend's picture
Kend 3 weeks 5 days ago

Legend. For 8 of the last 9 years while this horrible problem was growing your Democrats sat back and did nothing. They are both guilty in this one. This is why I like Trump he doesn't owe anybody anything.

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

Today he obviously showed that he is beholden to the NRA. He obviously is tied to coal. He obviously is beholden to the Mercers. He is obviously tied to Wall Street. I could go on and on. That has to be the stupidest sentence that I have read on this site.

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

It certainly will not get as much publicity but today another mass murder was stopped before it happened. If you do nothing, you are scheduling the next mass murder.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 3 weeks 5 days ago

Good points from Kend and HotCoffee.

Big Pharma versus the NRA.

Kilosqrd's picture
Kilosqrd 3 weeks 5 days ago

Food for thought Legend,

Another mass shooting will happen. Chances are overwhemling that the next shooter already has the weapon(s) and ammo to commit the next horrific act. The next shooter probably has already planned the attack to a certain degree i.e. when, where, and how.

The next mass shooter is also known by a number of family members and friends. In the case of the Florida school shooter, is was:

See Something

Say Something

Do Nothing

My question is, how do we stop it before it happens?


Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

Did you read the link on post 15?

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 3 weeks 5 days ago

@#16 Willie ,HC and Kend, you are correct,

Big Pharma versus the NRA


Cell phones

Constant texting


Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.

Ultra violent video games

Al Gore's internet

Hollywood movies

Parents that want to be "friends" with their kids instead instead of encouraging and setting high standards.

Schools lack of ability to discipline bad behavior.

Declining participation in some sort of regular religious activity.

An 18 year old being able to buy ANY gun.

A few to ponder.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 3 weeks 5 days ago

More pondering.

#1. There's too much focus on the AR-15.

#2. Too much blame directed at the NRA.

Back to #1. Even without the AR-15 there's still an abundance of semi-automatic rifles and pistols out there.

And #2. The NRA is not empowered to write or change law.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 3 weeks 5 days ago

You cant leave the NRA out of the mix!
They ARE "empowered" to bribe and buy out our politicians.
Ensuring that laws that go against their agenda WONT get written and passed!!

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 3 weeks 5 days ago

Thats quite the list your compiling..
But, do you REALLY want to go there putting hocus pocus..mumbo jumbo, RELIGION into the mix?!?
Because, the belief in such. Can definitely fuck people up in the head!
Just as much (if not more) as no belief at all!!

In fact; one could argue that mans superstitious beliefs in one religion vs. another.. is the BIGGEST cause of mass murder and genocide!?!

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

Does anyone have a factual reference to the Big Pharma connection in this? I believe that it has an affect, Columbine kids were on them, so was this kid. But is there a study that would be used to eliminate or control them better. Kend is willing to blame Obama so he must have a reference that Obama ignored. Diane and HC also must have some reference or study that proves what they are talking about.

Diane, Your list applies to every country in the world. The games and movies are translated and distributed. South Korea has PC (that is what they are called and have huge neon signs) business's that are much bigger than anything that I have seen here. The games are played by multiple players on huge screens.

#20. The NRA with bribes and propaganda (Along with the Republicans that they have bribed) have allowed this country to become an uncivilized mess. Where common people have lost the freedom of being safe in public. Also when people refer to the AR-15 they are referring to all semi auto weapons. It just happens to be the most famous. Do you expect us to list every one?

As far as "gun free zones". I do not know if this school was a "gun free zone". Ours are not. Police regularly patrol them. In car and on foot. But unless they are carrying assault weapons they are outgunned by teenagers. Fine Country that we live in.

By the way #29 if you think that the NRA is not involved watch this:

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

I do not know about other states but mine has gone to a lot of undercover (unmarked) Police cars. I know that they like it because it is easier to ticket speeders. But does it outway the criminal that pulls people over with fake grill lights. Rapes and murders have happened in several states from this. Or do they not realize that a police presence is a good thing to lower crime. If that kid had seen a cop car regularly patrol that High School he might not have done it.

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago
Willie W's picture
Willie W 3 weeks 5 days ago

I'm sticking with government blame. All future decisions for or against gun control will be made by them. No one else! If different entities throw money at them and they take it in exchange for favors, well, that's on them too. They could "just say no." They have all the power. It's their call.....100%

Outback 3 weeks 5 days ago

#7 Legend, knives were not invented to kill either (or were they .... enter OJ Simpson). Guns were invented (or more correctly, were "evolved" over centuries) for various purposes. Among these are providing the bearer with an advantage far outstripping his/her natural abilities. A human can't reasonably be expected to run down and slit the throat of a game animal (survival). An army can't reasonably be expected to win a battle where the opposing force has superior weaponry (war as a favorite human sport). But as has been observed numerous places in this thread, guns are here to stay, like it or not. 300 million or more in this country alone which is FAR too many to legislate out of existence. The "bad guys" will always find access to guns. This is why the more reasonable, rational and mentally sound among us must have access to guns as well. I don't know where you live, but as my monicker suggests I live out in the middle of nowhere. This doesn't mean there aren't plenty of meth heads or just plain crazies around. It simply means that I take some measure of comfort knowing I'm well armed. In fact, I'm probably less paranoid about bad things happening than a person living in an urban area. It doesn't happen much here because a would be intruder knows that the overwhelming majority of households is protected - from within. Police response time here is a joke, and even the cops appreciate that there are plenty of responsible gun owners here. So deturrence is a hugely important aspect of private ownership of even the most deadly of firearms, shotguns along with AR-15's, and I don't see anything wrong with that. I will agree with one poster above; perhaps we should start treating our schools more like airports until we get around to addressing the root cause of this kind of violence which, in my opinion, is a sick and radicalized segment of our population made that way by excessive exposure to violence in entertainment, economic inequality, a glorification of our national predilection for warfare and maybe a dozen other social ills that have absolutely nothing to do with guns.

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

I realize that the NRA and the Republican Party have let the herd of horses out of the barn long ago. Last person in the Republican Party that had some good common sense about guns was Ronal Reagan who banned semi auto. In Place of banning gun we would need some common sense rules. So you would agree to some common sense controls?

A real background check, not just a 5 minute check.

A mental aptitude test (MMPI)

A 7 to 10 day waiting period after purchase

Gun registration

Gun Insurance

A tax on guns and ammo to cover medical costs of people injured by gun violence.

Database of Gun ownership and Ammo purchases with triggers.

I am sure that there are a few more common sense additions. Part of the problem is in the past the NRA and Republican Party have screamed about the slightest change. Thus you have what you have today. I do not think that any of these would affect you drastically.

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

Thought of a couple that I missed.

Raise age limit to 21.

Ban Congress and Senate from receiving funds (bribes) from the NRA and other gun lobbyists. I would prefer to say all lobbyists.

Outback 3 weeks 5 days ago


No problem with any of your suggestions. "Common sense" should always be employed whenever making any law. I still believe, though, that in the emotional turmoil that follows each of these tragic shootings, people often mistake the cause of the problem for the instrument used. I believe the "gun" or the "assault rifle" has come to be the symbol of violence in our society, and that's a cop out. Is it any less brutal to deprive children of adequate nutrition, wreck the retirement of millions of people through mortgage fraud or remain silent (and therefore complicit) while our own government rains hell down upon innocent non-combatents in countries all over the world? I think the "school shooting gun thing" is a very convenient distraction used by our own leaders, R&D alike, to deflect attention from the "real" evil that's going on.

Legend 3 weeks 5 days ago

"Is it any less brutal to deprive children of adequate nutrition?" Republicans are doing that with cuts in medicaid, SNAP and CHIP. The rest is just a diversion by you.

So much for the gun free zone that Diane was rabid about. There were 2 armed security guards at that school. All Broward County Schools have armed guards.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 3 weeks 5 days ago

There are other types of nutrition to...




that children need to be taught.

How many times a day on tv do they see violence instead of love?

And we tell them it's ok to kill unborn children but not born ones????

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 3 weeks 5 days ago

Coffee #32

I agree, nurturing is very important..
But your last statement made no sense at all!!!!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 3 weeks 5 days ago


it's ok to kill a child in the womb but not in school....not!!!

commchf 3 weeks 5 days ago


Thanks for this article. I've been arguing this since Newtown.

A caller today kept referring to NATO rounds when talking about 5.56mm vs. the .223 caliber rounds but I don't think you understood what "NATO" he was talking about. North Atlantic Treaty Organization. All militaries in NATO use NATO ammunition including the US.

A 5.56mm NATO round is not the same as a .223. He had a good point about using the NATO tag as a frame in the ammunition area. Framing Thom...Framing.

Here's another frame. I enlisted in the US Army in 1983 and was very personally introduced to my own personal M16A1. I carried that thing for 16 hours a day for the next 10 weeks. Fired it a few thousand times too. It was physically identical to the AR15 at that time. But not mechanically. AR15 didn't have Auto mode.

About 1990 we replaced the M16A1 with the M16A2. Want to know the main mechanical change between the A1 vs. the A2? No more Automatic mode. They took away the "machine gun" that the previous M16A1 was. Automatic was replaced by "Burst". Burst fires 3 rounds per trigger squeeze. They got rid of Automatic mode because it wasn't lethal enough.

And a personal note. I'm retired Army. 20 years of firing either the A1 or the A2. At least 4 ranges a year for zeroing and qualification, and usually several more practice ranges. I was allowed to use Automatic mode once in those years. 20 rounds in Basic Training. I never was allowed to fire Burst. So in 20 years I fired in Semi-Automatic every single time except one

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 3 weeks 5 days ago

#32; 33 - Totally agree

Love is a lack in life and living

Love begins in the home as any mom knows

Mysogyny is a love killer and woman beater... is and has been

It is prevalent pretty well all over the planet

Don't know any woman that "packs a gun"

Legend 3 weeks 4 days ago

So #35 basically proves that we sell military grade weapons to civilians.

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