CNN runs an idea from investor John MacIntosh that might change the math on gun control via capitalism.
I read this CNN editorial with some interest. In it, John MacIntosh proposes a gun control notion that, unlike most, at least has the value of novelty. He proposes a well-heeled corporate takeover group buyout of Freedom Group, the company that owns a number of American gun manufacturers. From there, he proposes this group begin a series of internal reforms such as these:
(iii) Operates the business as if sensible gun laws were in place (this may turn out to be a wise investment in future-proofing the company): discontinuing sales of the most egregious assault weapons and modifying others as necessary so they cannot take huge-volume clips; offering to buy back all Freedom Group assault weapons in circulation; micro-stamping weapons for easy tracking; and providing price discounts for buyers willing to go through a background check and register in a database available to law enforcement.
(iv) Voluntarily waives its rights to support the NRA and other lobbying groups.
(v) Creates a fund to compensate those who, despite its best efforts, are killed or wounded by its weapons.
The entire piece is worth reading, and his proposal is certainly worth considering. Myself, I lack a great deal of faith in the magic of free-market solutions to non-market problems, but I could be wrong.
What really catches my eye about this proposal is that it’s trying to address the underlying gun culture in this country in a new way. I’ve been talking and thinking a good deal about gun control lately, and an interesting notion came up in conversation recently. First, it is a fact that Americans own more guns per capita than anyone on earth, by a wide margin. Second, it is a fact that America is far more violent than any other affluent, stable nation. The fundamental premise of gun control is that the former fact causes the latter. Unfortunately, I think it may be more likely that the latter causes the former.
If there’s something in our culture or our economy or our water supply that just steeps the American brain in violence, then we’d naturally expect such a people to buy and maintain a lot of guns. Further, we’d expect the rate of violence to change independently of the number of guns owned or the level of gun control in place, which is in fact what we see in the real world. Consider that: what if we don’t kill because we’re armed, but we’re armed because we’re killers? What if there’s something fundamentally broken in our culture that won’t let us let go of violence, or at least makes it harder for us than other places?
There’s a lot of ways we could start addressing the problem in those terms, and having a major gun company start publicly challenging the assumptions about how violence is supposed to work might be a start.
Photo—Freedom Works logo with subsidiary companies