A Gun-Control Measure Conservatives Should Consider

May 2019
To understand the American gun-control debate, you have to understand the fundamentally different starting positions of the two sides. Among conservatives, there is the broad belief that the right to own a weapon for self-defense is every bit as inherent and unalienable as the right to speak freely or practice your religion. It’s a co-equal liberty in the Bill of Rights, grounded not just in the minds of the Founders but in natural law.

Against this backdrop, most forms of gun control proposed after each mass killing represent a collective punishment. The rights of the law-abiding are restricted with no real evidence that these alleged “common sense” reforms will prevent future tragedies in any meaningful way.

Many progressives, however, simply don’t care about restrictions on gun ownership. They don’t view it as an individual right, much less an unalienable one. To them, the Second Amendment is an embarrassment, an American quirk that should be limited and confined as much as possible. To them, gun ownership is a privilege, not a right, and can be heavily regulated and restricted without doing any violence at all to individual liberty.

To describe these differences is not to say that the two sides never meet. Putting aside the relatively meaningless polls about various gun-control measures — the polls that truly matter are at the ballot box, and there the results are very clear and very distinct for both red and blue — there is broad conceptual agreement that regardless of whether you view gun ownership as a right or a privilege, a person can demonstrate through their conduct that they have no business possessing a weapon.

Felons, the dangerously mentally ill, perpetrators of domestic violence — these people have not only demonstrated their unfitness to own a weapon, they’ve been granted due process to contest the charges or claims against them. There is no arbitrary state action. There is no collective punishment. There is, rather, an individual, constitutional state process, and the result of that process is a set of defined consequences that includes revoking the right to gun ownership.

Now, let’s back up for a moment and apply this reasoning to our contagion of mass shootings. Time and again mass shooters give off warning signals. They issue generalized threats. They post disturbing images. They exhibit fascination with mass killings. But before the deadly act itself, there is no clear path to denying them access to guns. Though people can report their concerns to authorities, sometimes those authorities fail or have limited tools to deal with the emerging danger.

What if, however, there was an evidence-based process for temporarily denying a troubled person access to guns? What if this process empowered family members and others close to a potential shooter, allowing them to “do something” after they “see something” and “say something”? I’ve written that the best line of defense against mass shootings is an empowered, vigilant citizenry. There is a method that has the potential to empower citizens even more, when it’s carefully and properly implemented.

It’s called a gun-violence restraining order, or GVRO.

While there are various versions of these laws working their way through the states (California passed a GVRO statute in 2014, and it went into effect in 2016), broadly speaking they permit a spouse, parent, sibling, or person living with a troubled individual to petition a court for an order enabling law enforcement to temporarily take that individual’s guns right away. A well-crafted GVRO should contain the following elements (“petitioners” are those who seek the order, “the respondent” is its subject):

  1. It should limit those who have standing to seek the order to a narrowly defined class of people (close relatives, those living with the respondent);
  2. It should require petitioners to come forward with clear, convincing, admissible evidence that the respondent is a significant danger to himself or others;
  3. It should grant the respondent an opportunity to contest the claims against him;
  4. In the event of an emergency, ex parte order (an order granted before the respondent can contest the claims), a full hearing should be scheduled quickly — preferably within 72 hours; and
  5. The order should lapse after a defined period of time unless petitioners can come forward with clear and convincing evidence that it should remain in place.

The concept of the GVRO is simple, not substantially different from the restraining orders that are common in family law, and far easier to explain to the public than our nation’s mental-health adjudications. Moreover, the requirement that the order come from people close to the respondent and that they come forward with real evidence (e.g. sworn statements, screenshots of social-media posts, copies of journal entries) minimizes the chance of bad-faith claims.

The great benefit of the GVRO is that it provides citizens with options other than relying on, say, the FBI. As the bureau admitted today, it did not respond appropriately to a timely warning from a “person close to Nikolas Cruz.” According the FBI, that person provided “information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”

In other words, it appears the FBI received exactly the kind of information that would justify granting a GVRO.

Just since 2015, the Charleston church shooter, the Orlando nightclub shooter, the Sutherland Springs church shooter, and the Parkland school shooter each happened after federal authorities missed chances to stop them. For those keeping score, that’s four horrific mass shootings in four years where federal systems failed, at a cost of more than 100 lives.

In other words, proper application of existing policies and procedures could have saved lives, but the people in the federal government failed. And they keep failing. So let’s empower different people. Let’s empower the people who have the most to lose, and let’s place accountability on the lowest possible level of government: the local judges who consistently and regularly adjudicate similar claims in the context of family and criminal law.

The GVRO is consistent with and recognizes both the inherent right of self-defense and the inherent right of due process. It is not collective punishment. It is precisely targeted.​

Advocates for GVROs have been mostly clustered on the left, but there is nothing inherently leftist about the concept. After all, the GVRO is consistent with and recognizes both the inherent right of self-defense and the inherent right of due process. It is not collective punishment. It is precisely targeted.


As I wrote the night of the Parkland shooting, a vigilant citizenry is a far better defense against a mass shooting than the sweeping, allegedly “common sense” gun-control measures debated after every massacre. But when individual citizens are vigilant and individual government officials are not, then it’s time to consider different measures. It’s time to consider rearranging the balance of power.

I don’t pretend that a GVRO is the solution to mass killings. There is no “solution.” It’s a tool, one among many. In 2016 California courts granted 86 restraining orders. Most of them applied for a mere 21 days. In ten instances those orders were extended for a year. Until I’m persuaded otherwise (and I look forward to the conversation), I’ll believe that a restraining order can give a family the power federal incompetence has taken away — the power to save lives.
Gun Control Republicans Should Consider: GRVOs | National Review
Another good idea that could happen with compromise.
Nov 2018
Inner Space
Only conservatives would think that AFTER widely promoting citizen ownership of lethal weapons that have mass shooting potential, it makes sense to THEN try to identify and restrain the behavior of those with impulse control, suicidal intent, violence-prone thought disorders, paranoid political motivation or other anti-social intent. "the horse is out of the barn"
May 2018
Only conservatives would think that AFTER widely promoting citizen ownership of lethal weapons that have mass shooting potential, it makes sense to THEN try to identify and restrain the behavior of those with impulse control, suicidal intent, violence-prone thought disorders, paranoid political motivation or other anti-social intent. "the horse is out of the barn"
Those dipshits are always ass-backwards, hence "conservative".....If we'd let those guys call the shots throughout history we'd still be shitting on the floor in our caves and dying at 25.
Likes: Biff
Mar 2018
I could reduce mass shootings by over 90 percent. When I say mass shootings, I'm referring to the Parkland, Columbine, El Paso, Sandy Hook kind. It would not require any new taxes, bureaucracies and most of all - no gun control. Having put nearly four decades into developing that plan, researching it, studying trends, shepardizing the law, it would do what I say, but the "conservatives" are purely reactionary. While Trump is in office, you're pissing in the wind with ANY proposal. The left does not care about saving lives. For them, it's all about control. If you could eliminate all gun violence and still have an armed citizenry, the left would oppose it.

Having said that, I would never put myself in a position to be judged by any member of the mental health community when it comes to gun Rights. They are, to a man (or woman), anti-gun. The real solution to gun violence is through civil interventions.

There has to be a pre-program before initiating my idea. The primary focus of a real solution begins with changing our culture. We have become a culture where we look to drugs as the panacea - the silver bullet to solve all problems. If we do not move away from that, we are wasting each other's time. The government must be forced to exhaust all other avenues before putting drugs into a person's body. I was a DFACS asset for years. The FIRST order of business when they get a child is to pump them up with drugs. If a child is rowdy in school, the parents or the school send the child to a doctor where they then pump them up with drugs for fake disorders like ADD / ADHD.

Once you've done that, you move to civil interventions (it's a subject too long for a single posting and it takes away from your points.) If a child makes it to adulthood and commits a crime, then prisons should not turn people loose until they have been punished, rehabilitated and put on a program whereby they can pay restitution.

I'm against any program that increases the size, power and / or scope of government.
To understand the American gun-control debate, you have to understand the fundamentally different starting positions of the two sides. ...............

Walkaway, first I'd like to say that was a very articulate and well written point of view.

To start things off, I completely agree that, "most forms of gun control proposed after each mass killing represent a collective punishment." To take it one step further, I feel that nearly all gun control is unnecessary punishment and control over what would otherwise be law abiding citizens. I think the only real "gun control" that I agree with is the initial background check which was first created by the NRA and proposed to Bill Clinton who begrudgingly signed it after pressured by the NRA and other groups.

You also in that same point use the phrase "common sense" which I feel is a misnomer or at the very least, an antonym. Take the terms, "politically correct", something is either just correct, or you are eluding to the idea that it may not be correct but it may be "POLICITALLY correct". Same with "social justice" in that we either have justice, or we have a socially accepted justice that isn't really justice at all. Imagine how a few years ago, we say a huge rise in the number of people texting while driving and that led to an increase in accidents. Since then, the states have created laws preventing texting and driving and it has helped reduce the accidents and injury...however, socially speaking, everyone was doing it so why wouldn't it be social justice to let it keep happening? Answer is because social justice is often the antonym of real justice just as political correctness is the antonym of correctness. Which brings us to "COMMON sense", seems we can either have sense, or we can have something OTHER than sense...don't you think?

Back to your points though, we do in fact already have a gun-violence restraining order of sorts in place and being used regularly. Any court can issue a gun-violence restraining order against someone deemed by the court to be unfit and mentally unstable. Likewise, the court can also issue one to someone who committed a crime and considers that person a threat to themselves or others. In both cases, once the court issues the order, Police/Sheriff confiscate any firearms in their possession and at their residences. This does already exist and has been used in many cases I'm aware of.

Now, with that said, the current procedure requires a court order and getting one requires just cause, a mountain of evidence and reason in order for a judge to actively remove a person's constitutional rights and allow the search and seizure of their property. It isn't taken lightly and it's really only used in cases where it's clearly necessary. Why? Simply put, abolishing a person's constitutional rights is a major thing and NOT taken lightly. The cost for getting it wrong is tremendous and lawyers would seek damages and compensation for their clients in huge sums if it was done without provocation/justification. What you're suggesting is to minimize the hurdles that it would take to implement more gun-violence restraining orders and that is a hugely dangerous proposition.

Consider the current state of affairs in our country. We have hollywood stars publicly shaming people and companies who donate to our president's campaign. You have democrats currently lashing out against anyone who voted for or supports Trump calling them names and suggesting a complete lack of education. You have the IRS, Facebook, Google all under investigation for targeting Republicans or Republican groups. So, if we suddenly made it easier to implement a gun-violence restraining order, how long before it's mis-used by anyone on the Democratic side to punish and remove rights of their opponents? Making such a leap isn't unheard of given all the things that have been happening in the last few years since Trump got to office. We only nee to turn on the news to see regular examples of people going too far because they disagree with their political opponents and it's frankly both embarrassing and extremely sad. The reason it takes such extreme measures to get a gun-violence restraining order is because it should NEVER be easy to remove our rights as citizens or else I fear that groups will use it to their bias and advantage. We already see it happening as we speak...we shouldn't make it easier to destroy our rights.

Back in our history, it was common place for families to institutionalize their "loved" ones if they were erratic, depressed, or really suffering any mental issues at all. Families forced their family member into an institution and wrote them off. That person's rights were ignored and their freedoms destroyed. Since then our country has put in place hurdles that a family must prove in order to have their loved ones institutionalized against their will to prevent family members from institutionalizing parents/grandparents in an effort to have access to their money, etc. Honestly, I think we need to reevaluate these hurdles and have temporary allowances for evaluating potential threats only because I think it would have helped with preventing Sandy Hook with Adam Lanza and UCSB with Elliot Rogers to name a couple. In both cases, the mother of the killer tried and failed to prevent what happened. Adam Lanza's mother even went to court to plead to have adam institutionalized and failed while Elliot's mother called police to do a health and welfare check and had the police been able to search, they would have found his journal and stopped the murders he committed the very next day. I agree with you that loved ones often are close enough to see the signs, but we can't make it such an easy process that the process can be misused and abused because diminishing our rights is no small inconciquential task to take lightly.
Part 2:

Now, since I'm not the type to pick apart your suggestion without offering my own solution, it is my opinion that we need to do several things to change the course we're currently speeding down.

First, we need to allow anyone who chooses to accept the responsibility to carry a concealed weapon to do so, especially on school grounds. This refusal to allow teachers or administrators to carry because of some innate fear of "friendly fire" is unwarranted. Considering that out of the millions of police interactions that result with police drawing and firing their weapon each year, we do not see even a marginal amount of friendly fire cases for all the shooting they're forced to do. Likewise, the same can and would be true for those persons whom are forced to protect innocent lives from a lunatic. People who take on the responsibility to carry, don't do so lightly. They seek training, they practice and they're fully aware of the legal ramifications of their actions should they be required to draw their weapon. An Oregon Mall had an active shooter incident where a concealed carrier drew his weapon but didn't fire because he saw that they area behind the shooter wasn't clear. This isn't a rare incident, this is actually pretty normal. Why? According to the DOJ, between 240,000 and 360,000 people leave the military each year. These are trained military soldiers who are transitioning back into civilian life. In the classes I took for my concealed carry, the majority of the class was former military. Some are going back to college, some are getting jobs at schools, some are just seeking their license/permit so they aren't a victim. Don't you think we should allow former military personnel to carry at schools? What about former police? What about Competition Shooters? What about people who have spent their entire lives shooting and are more familiar with guns than many police officers? The question to who should carry comes down to the answer of, anyone who chooses to accept the responsibility that carrying a gun inherently requires. To me, we need to allow those people who are there all the time, to have the means to handle the problems when they happen. Just because you wear your seatbelt sometimes, but not all the times doesn't mean it's going to save you or prevent your death. ONLY by wearing it all the time can it protect you. So hiring an armed guard is great, but what happens if they call in sick, they're out to lunch, or they simply get shot first? It makes perfect sense to have multiple persons who choose to take on the responsibility to carry on school grounds whether k-12 or colleges. That way, no matter when it happens, there is a more likely chance that the threat will be subdued quickly.

Consider this, you're a high school student and you know that there are teachers and administrators who are concealed carriers. You're not sure who, but the principal has made it clear at the beginning of the year that there are several. How likely are you to plan an attack when you have no clue who's armed and can shoot and kill you at first sight of a gun? Consider the same for a college campus...many fear the wild west where everyone is shooting everyone and again, it's based on silly ignorant fear and not based on fact. When I went to college, Each class I attended had at least 2 former military in it. I know this because I was one of them and I often related to others from the military and sought them out to work with as I always knew they'd have my back as I have theirs regardless of the branch they served in. I recognize firearms as tools and nothing more. They are a terrible hammer, a decent paperweight, but there is nothing more effective for keeping someone with a gun from walking up and executing you than a firearm. So why shouldn't we allow the tool to be used for it's sole purpose?

In addition, or secondly if you will, I would pass a law allowing temporary evaluations of loved ones. Call it a 48 hour hold or a happy hold for all it matters but if someone like Adam Lanza's mother, James Holmes parents, Elliot roger's parents or any parent or loved one calls for a health and welfare check or seeks authorization for institutionalization, then there needs to be a period where the person is evaluated and unable to act upon their motives. Had we had something like that, at least half of the school shootings could have been thwarted in my opinion. I also would want a major penalty for misuse so that if someone initiates it and the person isn't nuts and not considered a threat, that the family member/person pay restitution and or jail time to ensure any misuse is minimal. That way, my father or mother couldn't just wake up one day, get mad at me and have me institutionalized and all my firearms confiscated because they felt like it. We need to avoid creating the potential for misuse by limiting the power and reach of any such laws, not by opening them up to anyone and everyone. I would very much like to not have my democratic neighbors decide one day that they don't like the political sign out front and call police on me to have me institutionalized. That's what we always need to avoid and that is the very reason and basis for our constitution. It protects us all and often it protects us all from ourselves when some grow stupid.

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