Guest column: Take some steps

I share the anger over gun violence. Which steps can most Idahoans agree on? asks Steve Piet.

Let’s use our heads and ignore misleading gun statistics and statements from both sides.

Start with an update to the Idaho Constitution. Passed in 1890, Article XIV defines the Idaho militia as all able-bodied male persons between the ages of 18 and 45. This is woefully out of date. Include women, extend the age to 65, and mandate training.

The most recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on guns (DC v. Heller, 2008) examined whether the 2nd Amendment gives gun rights to individuals or only to “well regulated militia.” By one vote, the Court decided individuals have gun rights without being part of a well-regulated militia.

There were four Justices who excluded the right to individual gun ownership. If we update the Idaho Constitution, we gain some protection against the next time there are five liberals on the Supreme Court. The more legitimate gun owners feel protection against this federal threat, the more likely they might agree to some of the following proposals.

Below I address several current proposals. Some overlap. None are complete solutions.

The first set of ideas would restrict gun sales to regulated public businesses. No unregistered and unregulated sales by private owners. (This would not restrict gifts within families.) No unregulated sales at gun shows, whether by licensed dealers (currently covered) or private individuals (not yet covered). Require a two-week waiting period.

The next set of ideas would restrict who can get a gun. Ban those who have committed domestic or other forms of violence, as validated by police reports. Ban those with mental health issues, e.g., those reported to the FBI or local police. No purchases until age 21; state militia and federal soldiers exempted. Require licenses for all fire arms. Require background checks for all purchases.

Limit gun ownership to those who pass a test on gun safety, analogous to requiring car driver license holders to pass a driving test.

Limit gun ownership to those who have liability insurance, analogous to requiring car owners to have liability insurance. I would give gun liability insurance companies the option to make the insurance cost dependent on training, home safeguards, etc.

Next are technology ideas. Require child locks, gun safes, or locked gun cabinets for guns at home. Ban bump stocks, which can increase the firing rate of rifles. Ban gun cranks, an older technology which can also rapidly increase the firing rate.

Fully automatic guns (illegal) fire multiple rounds, hundreds of rounds per minute. Semi-automatic guns (legal) fire a single round, but can be triggered tens of time per minute. Bump stocks and gun cranks aim to increase the firing rate of semi-automatic guns.

Limit magazines to 10 rounds.

Ban rifles with a firing rate above some limit, perhaps 10 shots/minute. Some would attempt to ban “assault rifles” or “assault weapons.” However, these terms lack technical or legal definition. Past attempts have focused on the gun’s appearance, which is irrelevant.

The last group of ideas apply to protecting schools. Further restrict school physical access with metal detectors and entry protocols using what we’ve learned from airports, military and government.

Finally, allow volunteer teachers and administrators to carry guns if they frequently pass training requirements. We protect state and national officials and special places with armed experts. Why not with our most special places and important people, our children?

Contact your representatives and senators in Boise. Passing one idea is better than none.

Piet holds the Doctor of Science degree in nuclear engineering; he retired after 31 years at INL.