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Opinion

News Opinion

Changing America's gun laws requires changing its gun culture

The Sun and others have paid little attention to the importance of firearm size in the context of the current gun control debate. Due to the fact they are easily concealed and portable, handguns are more often accidentally discharged, used to commit suicide and, most importantly, employed by criminals. Rifles, on the other hand, are far less to be involved in such cases. That's why lumping rifle and handgun restrictions together is a mistake.

People who purchase firearms less than 30 inches in length should receive the additional scrutiny the state wants, but the tougher scrutiny shouldn't apply to those who buy guns larger than that. At the same time, universal background checks should apply to all firearm purchases, regardless of size.

Over time, such a policy would encourage new gun buyers to purchase non-portable, non-concealable firearms greater than 30 inches in length. Such an approach would save lives yet still allow citizens to protect themselves and maintain their fundamental right to bear arms.

In terms of ammunition magazines, their capacity should not exceed that of the standard-issue military and law-enforcement weapons currently in use. Ultra-high capacity magazines should require special licensing or be banned outright.

Legislation should focus on the type of firearms that contribute most to crime-related deaths: handguns. Laws targeting the more general category of "assault weapons" will do little to protect citizens and violates our most basic Second Amendment rights.

Rightly or wrongly, the biggest hurdle to any approach on gun control is the fact that a handgun culture exists in the constituencies of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

In order to change this dynamic there needs to be a generational culture shift that encourages the use of rifles rather than handguns as the primary home-defense weapon of choice. A more balanced approach would do just that.

Chris McIntyre

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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