I got a lot of feedback, mostly negative, from my post last week On the kinds of conversations regarding the shooting tragedy in Connecticut. Most of them were in the form of "you don't know what you're talking about", but they don't specify what they object to.
Were there objections that I pointed out that guns are part of American culture? There are benefits to gun ownership, just as there are benefits to owning a car. Were readers upset that I pointed out that there are risks to gun ownership? Guns are, by definition, dangerous - they are designed to kill and having a weapon in your house and possession raise your risk level, just as owning a car is risker (you can run over people with it). The debate is over whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
What I do find curious is that the gun ownership constituency tends to be of the "get the government off my back" variety and, at the same time, the NRA's called on the federal government to station police officers in every school in the country.
Is this where we've come to? A "get the government off my back" crowd calling for more government? How about deploying elements of the 101st Airborne or 4th Mountain in schools? Wouldn't that deter the "bad" guys even more?
If you do believe in gun ownership and your philosophy is "less government is better government", then there is a better way forward - let the market do it.
The free market solution
Just as everyone above a certain age is allow to own a car, everyone who is qualified could be allowed to own a gun. Just as car ownerships are required to have insurance, gun owner should be required to carry a large level of liability insurance in case the guns under his control are used improperly.
That way, we can let the market regulate gun ownership rather than the government. Insurance companies are in the business of pricing risk and they should be able to price the cost of gun ownership properly. That way, the market can create barriers to the "crazies" owning guns.
No doubt, the level of gun ownership will decrease under such a proposal, but the "right kind" of gun ownership, i.e. responsible ones, will be largely unaffected. In America, everyone who is qualified is allowed to own a car, but not everyone is owns one because of the costs involved. Under this proposal, the free market would tend to weed out the higher risk cases.
If America is the embodiment of the embrace of free markets, then this would be an important step in the application of this principle pertaining to the gun ownership and control debate.
Cam Hui is a portfolio manager at Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd. ("Qwest"). This article is prepared by Mr. Hui as an outside business activity. As such, Qwest does not review or approve materials presented herein. The opinions and any recommendations expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or recommendations of Qwest.
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