I see that you and Melinda have donated $1 million to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a gun control advocacy group. Media accounts indicate that:
The Alliance is backing a ballot measure in the state this November that would require background checks for all gun purchases in the state, including those made at gun shows and online. The measure is opposed by a local group known as Protect Our Gun Rights, which has raised $1.1 million and has its own measure on the ballot to try to block background checks.I understand the history of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to take incremental steps to better the world with small but high impact contributions to worthy causes. The tragedy of gun violence in America is deplorable. However, your latest contribution marking an approach towards gun control political advocacy, regardless of your intent, cannot be regarded as a high impact act given the entrench gun culture in American society.
Instead, might I suggest a Third Way of achieving your goals of a safer America while achieving a political consensus about gun ownership (see my previous post Is more government the answer?). There is no question that gun ownership involves risk, as shown by most recent incident of the nine-year-old accidentally killing her instructor, Gun control advocates believe that it introduces too much risk into American society, while gun owners believe that the benefits of gun ownership and the right to self-protection far outweigh the risks.
Instead of arguing over whether the benefits outweigh the risks, why not allow the market to price the risks of gun ownership? Here is what I wrote in 2012:
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.Driving cars is virtually a universal right in America. Nevertheless, drivers have responsibilities in the operation of a vehicle and laws requiring liability insurance. If we apply the same principles used for cars to guns and allow the market to price the risk of gun ownership, it is a proposal that could see strong bipartisan support from both sides of the gun control debate.
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.
That would fit with the profile of a low cost, but high impact initiative in the tradition of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of making the world a better place.