A gun tax would reduce the number of firearms and deaths

In response to James Farmer's guest commentary, "Banning guns doesn't make you safer" (see Dec. 17 Tidings), I would like to make the following points:

First: Most of what James Farmer wrote was published thoughout the United States many times over the last several years. A Google search for "Firearms Refresher Course" yielded more than 5,000 matches. I've seen references as far back as 2004. Is James Farmer the original author or did he just plagiarize the works of others? As a reader, I am more interested in the original thoughts of authors than in reading letters that have been cut and pasted from other sources.

Second: One reason that so many people are opposed to gun ownership is that guns are, by their very nature and design, very efficient at killing people. While it's possible to kill people using knives and clubs, guns are quicker, easier and more certain. The act of stabbing or hitting another human being can cause the attacker to pause, curtail or lessen his actions. Pulling a trigger is too easy, too quick and too final.

Third: While acknowledging the constitutional right to bear arms, I feel that there may be an economic method to persuade gun owners to part with their guns. Governments sometimes require citizens to collectively bear the costs incurred by a few. Society could say, "Fine, you can have your guns. However, we know that the private ownership of guns causes huge economic losses for our society. We want the owners of guns to collectively pay for those losses." I believe that if the owner of each gun had to pay the pro-rated share of the violence done by all guns, he would be inclined to dispose of the gun quickly.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms estimates that there were 233 million guns in the United States in 1995. In an actuarial study done a few years ago, Jean Lemaire (a professor of insurance and actuarial science at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania) put the cost of gun violence in the United States at more than $100 billion a year. This equates to more than $400 per gun per year.

If the average gun owner had to pay a $400 tax each year for each gun, it's likely that the gun owner would decide to dispose of some or all of his guns. With fewer guns in existence, the cost of the gun tax would increase the following year. Eventually, an equilibrium would occur where our country would have far fewer guns and far fewer deaths.

Opponents will likely argue that criminals obviously won't pay their gun taxes. In that case, like Al Capone, they can be found guilty of tax evasion and jailed on that much-easier-to-prove charge.

Fourth: Ironically, a gun owner's family is the most likely beneficiary of a gun owner disposing of his guns. According to Kellerman AL, Rivara FP, Somes G, et al, "Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership" in the 1992 Vol. 327 No. 7 New England Journal of Medicine, "A gun in the home increases the risk of homicide of a household member by three times and the risk of suicide by five times compared to homes where no gun is present." How does the gun owner balance his love of guns with his love for his family?

Scott Dixon is a retired engineer who lives in Ashland.

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