Random Nerds believes that we as a collective internet body are capable of great things. We might even be able to save the world, if we don’t destroy it first.

Half-Baked Ideas to Save the World is where we’ll try and harness that power with probably terrible possibly decent hypotheses and schemes.

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It started with an incident. It always does, doesn’t it? This one began when my boyfriend and I woke up after an annual holiday party and wanted breakfast. We walked the .3 miles to a local diner and got a booth in the center of the restaurant, me facing the large plate-glass window. We each placed our order, sipped on our thick mugs of coffee, and chatted about our collective memories from the night before. As we talked, a small group of three teenagers began to pass by outside the window. I didn’t pay much attention to them, they were your typical teenagers – until one of them brandished a gun.

He flippantly waved it around and laughed as he pointed it into the diner, obviously showing off in front of his friends. I didn’t even have time to comprehend that my eyes had briefly met the barrel of his gun before he was past the diner and out of view.

“That was a gun,” I could only mumble robotically. “That was a — I just saw that kid with a gun.”

I wasn’t the only one to have witnessed the firearm on display; two patrons behind us made a comment to the owner, who ultimately opted not to phone the police (for reasons that I will not detail in this essay because it distracts from the crux of my tale). Nevertheless, behind that plate-glass window was proof of how simple it is to obtain a firearm in this country. Maybe a relative had purchased the gun legally and the teenager had swiped it. Maybe he’d bought it for himself on the black market. Maybe he was over eighteen and bought it entirely legally. Regardless of his tactic, the weapon was in his possession and that the thing was in his hands at all felt infuriating.

From there, I fled to Facebook because I needed answers. I wanted people in my life I knew were pro-gun to give my explanations on why they sought to safeguard this culture. I needed these defenders of the Second Amendment to make sense of it for me, so I posted a plea.

I can’t possibly explain the depth of the sheer chaos that ensued across my Facebook wall over the course of the next 24 hours. At least twenty people jumped onto the thread, from both sides of the spectrum. Several friends of mine claimed resoundingly that more gun laws will not help the issue and that mental illness is predominantly to blame, while other friends cried out that guns themselves are the problem and that action needs to be taken to reduce access to weapons. Soliloquies were typed, arguments were defended, and articles were posted or cited or ignored. It was an absolute free-for-all. And I am not ashamed to say that I loved every minute of it.

I watched friends of mine who had never met engage in heated and often emotional arguments, and I waited on the other end of the thread to see who would emerge with their point driven home. Everyone had something to say. Everyone had a retort.

But the thing I noticed most from this unintentional social experiment? Everyone, regardless of what side they’re on, is flipping afraid.

Personally, I am afraid of guns, down to my very core. I was a student at Virginia Tech in 2007 when the shootings occurred, and while I didn’t necessarily have an opinion on weapons before the massacre, you can be sure that I’ve developed one since. However, a good friend of mine from college — let’s call him Zach — is a Libertarian# who was also there with me during the shootings at Tech# and he’s afraid, on the other hand, that gun control lobbyists like myself are going to take away the weapons he owns in order to protect himself.

You can probably imagine the kind of commentary that went on between Zach and myself as the argument raged into the night…

Regardless, at some point during the multiple threads and layers of this discussion, I decided that I needed Zach to propose a solution. I knew that in order for progress to be made and lines in the sand to be erased and sides forgotten, I needed someone from “his side” to suggest a sensible way to fix things.

And because I pestered him enough on the feed, here’s a pretty great proposal that the wonderful Libertarian Zach came up with (with a breakdown of the whole thing below):

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The Breakdown of Zach’s Gun Safety Proposal

Implement a License to Bear Arms

In order to obtain this license, a person must:

  • Apply.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Secure a doctor’s signoff (this would hopefully alleviate any persons with a history of mental health instabilities from acquiring access to firearms, without breaching privacy laws).
Incorporate a classwork portion to accompany the licensing process.

Similar to courses in Drivers Education that predate obtaining a Driver’s License, citizens applying for a License to Bear Arms (LBA) must take classes in gun safety that cover applicable laws. Also similar to securing a Driver’s License, people must pass a qualifying exam for their LBA.

Include these mandates into gun sales.

When purchasing a firearm, a person must:

  • Show their LBA.
  • Pass a quick background check at the time of purchase (when possible).
Other misc. pieces:
  • If someone is treated for mental illness/convicted of a crime, authorities can thereby suspend an LBA until the individual can successfully prove or earn back this right to carry.
  • The licensing process, as with Driver’s Licenses, would be a state matter, in order to prevent extensive delays/hassles. A minimum criteria could, however, be outlined by federal code.

 
And there you have it: a half-baked idea for a gun control proposal (which, for the purposes of eliminating polarization, should perhaps be changed to gun safety proposal).

To be frank, this astute proposal shocked me. I did not expect something so radical to emerge from someone like Zach. But when the rhetoric is dropped, Zach knows what all responsible gun owners SHOULD know: gun control laws are not going to affect him. Zach and others like him, if they are obtaining and utilizing firearms in the way they claim to be using them, will still be able to acquire and use guns if laws are stricter. Little do they realize, but us gun control lobbyists are not out to steal their guns.

And in true Random Nerds fashion, I wanted you — the people of the Internet — to witness this bold and revolutionary moment in gun debate history: the two sides converging.

It’s possible, folks. It takes the right language to find a middle ground. It takes work (and a lot of reassurance, in my case). But it’s possible. And now that we know it’s possible, now that we know there are options and ways to work together, maybe let’s start a different conversation.

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header image courtesy of Thumbs and Ammo