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Imagine that you and your gun are now in the center of a mass shooting that’s currently happening. But the police think that you are the shooter, and they are aiming their guns at you. What do you do?

Depends on my actions at that time. If I act like a mass shooter, I will be treated like one. If I freeze and follow orders exactly as given, when given, I’ll probably survive the encounter. Probably. This is a problem when both police and civilians are armed and respond to a violent threat; the police are readily identifiable, the civilians much less so.This lesson is drilled into every new LTC applicant in the State of Texas; the LTC is not a badge. It’s not an “official good guy” card. It is not a license to kill. Your concealed weapon is your very last option to prevent serious bodily injury or death to yourself or someone near you. Having one or more police officers within earshot of a mass shooting as it happens is a much more preferable option to a concealed carrier than to have to draw their own weapon.However, having the police right there able to intervene immediately is much less likely to be the case. Of the real “rampage shootings”, where one or two people indiscriminately open fire in a public place, only about 4% happen in a place where concealed carry is allowed. In those circumstances, however, the average casualty count (all killed and injured except the shooter) is 2.3; the median case doesn’t even count as a mass shooting, because the concealed carrier who intervenes does so within the first few shots being fired. About half the rest of the time, police intervene to interrupt an “active shooter”, and in those cases, 14.3 people are shot on average, because the police are usually not “right there in the middle of it”; they arrive on scene from miles away given a report called into 911. Situations in which police can respond as quickly as a civilian concealed carrier are rarer than situations in which a concealed carrier is the first able to respond.The remainder are situations where the shooter does everything he wants to do and either flees or takes his own life with his last bullet before anybody can respond with force of arms. These are the national headline makers; Columbine, Newtown, Aurora, Las Vegas, and now Parkland are all examples of the shooter never being confronted by police until he’s already stopped shooting. Given how quickly a mass shooter can rack up the body count, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Why do so few Americans carry a gun since everyone can?

First off, not everyone can.You have to be 18 to possess a handgun legally, 21 to buy one. You also cannot be a convicted felon, domestic abuser, nor have ever been involuntarily committed for a mental health issue. Some States have tighter restrictions for the actual carry permit; Texas, for instance, does not allow anyone with an outstanding protective or restraining order against them, or who is behind on alimony, child support, property taxes, or the payment of government fees, to obtain or maintain a carry permit.The two most populous cities in the U.S., NYC and LA, have effectively banned firearm carry by most gun owners through discretionary “may-issue” permitting laws, which require the applicant to demonstrate “good cause” and for which the policy of the agency responsible for handling these applications is to deny almost all of them out of hand. Similar restrictions or outright bans were only recently lifted by court order in Chicago and D.C.. Other fairly populous states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, and the rest of California have similarly severe restrictions on firearm carry.Only about 42% of households, something like 28% of adults, have a gun at all. Only about 67% of those people have a handgun, and not all of those people have a handgun suitable to conceal (the handgun may, for instance, be a scoped .44 magnum for hunting, or a full-size target .22 “range toy”). So, best estimates of the number of people who could get a permit and carry as soon as they got one is in the 35 million range. So, the number of people who have carry permits - about 16 million - is just a little less than 50% of the number of people who could carry tomorrow if a permit arrived in the mail. That’s honestly not a bad rate.The remaining reasons why more people don’t carry are varied:States have varying laws regarding where the permit does and does not allow carry. Most states allow some form of “no guns allowed” sign that is legally binding on the permit holder, and is a fairly serious crime to ignore. The more stores that post such signs, the less practical it is to carry at all.Employers can commonly prohibit gun carry with no signage needed. If you can’t carry inside your work building, you’re also disarmed while on the way to and from your car (and that’s if the state has a “parking lot” law that allows permit holders to keep their gun in their car when entering a building that forbids them). For most 9 to 5ers that’s most of their time away from home anyway, and the most likely times they might have need for it.Concealed carry permittees face a lot of liability in the event they have to use their handgun. Police officers have qualified immunity for use of deadly force in the course and scope of their duties; if they took a shot at a suspect and hit you, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate gross negligence or willful intent on the officer’s part; good luck. Concealed carriers must rely on their own aim and on the DA’s good humor; a DA that is very anti-gun can still direct the police to arrest anyone who shoots anyone else no matter how clear-cut the circumstances of self-defense, costing you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in bail, thousands more for a lawyer, and months of your time in and out of court. God help you if you missed and hit a bystander; go get your orange jumpsuit right now.It literally can be a pain in the ass. Carrying even a pistol designed to be concealed using an “in-waistband” holster that can be easily hidden by clothing is a chore, and requires a fair amount of pre-planning all the way back to buying your pants and shirts a size roomier than you normally wear to accommodate the extra bulk. For fashion-conscious men and women who like slim-fit shirts and tight low-rise pants, a concealed weapon simply isn’t compatible with that look.It costs. Texas used to have the third-highest application costs for a “shall-issue” permit in the country at $140. Add in the average course cost of $100, plus fingerprinting, and you’re at $250 for a first-time CHL/LTC applicant which is the second-highest total cost (beating Arkansas, still a couple hundred cheaper than Illinois). That application fee has thankfully been reduced to $40, and there are less expensive classes if you look around. But it’s still north of $100 to get your license the first time, and that’s on top of having a concealable weapon (maybe more than one), plus the ammo and range fees to stay in practice. If you don’t like shooting enough to own and feed your own firearm, it simply isn’t worth it, and I would recommend against anyone who wouldn’t keep in practice carrying a weapon; way too much potential to have things go extremely wrong.Long story short, even if there were no legal hurdles, a lot of people simply don’t think the benefits of carrying a gun are worth the costs and risks. The chances of being anywhere near a mass shooting are very slim (and there is no guarantee of a concealed handgun being much help; Las Vegas is an example), and if you avoid the 4 counties in the entire country that account for about 25% of all homicide and other violent crime, and take some care in choosing your spouse so as to not end up in an abusive relationship, your chances of being the victim of a violent crime are extremely low, low enough you would rather take those chances and not bother carrying. Others look at the statistics, such as the rate of violent crime victimization and the rate of structure fires being conspicuously similar, and note the obvious lack of boxes with Glocks in them labelled “In case of mugger, break glass”.For many on both sides, it’s a simple decision. For others, it’s a very complex and fraught one.

Can someone who wants more common sense gun laws, list 5 common sense laws that will actually stop mass shootings and other gun violence?

This answer may contain sensitive images. Click on an image to unblur it.I can do it in 3:Repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act.It’s a bad joke. It has zero deterrent effect to would-be mass shooters, and in fact there’s plenty of credence to the theory that mass shooters specifically target places where they know people are unlikely to have weapons (whether because they’re banned by law or simply because people who frequent those kinds of places don’t tend to bring guns).Actual gun free zones exist in this country. They’re very easy to identify:You want a gun-free zone, this is how you get one. Nobody gets past this checkpoint with a gun without alerting the entire venue’s security forces, bringing lots of guys in ballistic vests with automatic weapons to the breach point in seconds, not minutes.If you don’t have the money for this, then you crowdsource your security, by not forcing people who carry guns for their own defense to disarm. Then, those people, should a problem arise, will take care of it for you.This:… has absolutely no effect on the people it is intended to. Mass shooters walk right on by; the Parkland shooter isn’t even charged with the gun-free zone violation, because the 17 counts of premeditated murder are a bit more pertinent. Students who bring guns to schools and don’t shoot anyone are charged as juveniles; gun possession is not a violent crime and therefore most state statutes disallow prosecuting a minor as an adult. So the student gets expelled, finishes their high school education from juvie (or not), and either moves on from their mistake or continues their criminal path. Either way, the sign, and the criminal penalties, are comparable to most state penalties for underage possession, whether at a school or not.Outlaw discretionary-issue criteria and minimize application costs for firearm ownership/carry permits.I won’t go so far as to say the permits themselves need to go away; I think they have value in establishing that the people who carry guns are law-abiding, educated as to firearms law and proficient with their weapon. However, they’re too often used to prevent firearms carry and even ownership, whether by allowing the permitting agency or local law enforcement to deny the application “because we said so”, or by making it so expensive to obtain one that the average person either can’t afford it or doesn’t bother.My own state of Texas used to be one of the bad actors; from the inception of the CHL program, a first-time application cost $140, and required an 8-hour class that cost about as much. By application cost alone, as of 2015 the state had the third-highest cost for a shall-issue license, after Illinois and Arkansas. Add in the average course cost and that went to second place behind a state that only has a shall-issue system because Seventh Circuit forced it to. In Sept 2017, that cost was reduced to $40, plus the education course which is now only 4 hours, and costs as little as $60. It is now cheaper all-told to get your LTC than the application fee used to be.And we haven’t even discussed the king of “no way no how”, New York City. In a city of 8 million people, only 44,000 active firearm permits exist (0.5%; one-tenth the average rate of concealed carry permit holders nationwide), most of them for the wealthy elite and their security staff. Just to legally possess a handgun in the City, even unloaded, cased and locked, you need a permit. In addition to the $435 application fee and $95 fingerprinting fee (Texas does it digitally for $10 for their LTCs), the cost of all the paperwork you must produce to submit alongside the application can be staggering; you need a business license, 7-year residential history, medical history including a list of all medications you are taking, an agreement from any roommates that you should have the permit or an affidavit that you live alone, a list of character references, and a host of other documentation. And that’s just the first round; they can and will ask for more, before they say “nope, you don’t have good cause to get one, denied”.This changes. No “good cause” requirements, no local police signoff, and if the permit application costs more than a driver license in the same state, the cost of the permit approval process must be accounted for on an itemized, allocated basis annually to justify the cost charged.Universalize background checks with a web/smartphone app to allow background checks on the spot.You didn’t think gun rights advocates were going to get it all their own way? I see value in background checks. The problem is the current system is so full of holes it’s no wonder criminals don’t have much trouble getting around them. Universalizing background checks gives the average private seller a way (and a responsibility) to be as sure as an FFL can be that the person they’re selling a gun to is legit. The issue is that the UBC law cannot do any of three things that most proposals end up relying on:Centralization of transfer records - That is, for all intents and purposes, a registry of gun owners. Illegal under the Federal FOPA, but most states that have assault weapon registries or DROS systems just give that law a middle finger anyway.Reliance on FFLs - There are only 130,000-odd FFLs in the entire country, and they’re not all consumer retailers with brick and mortar storefronts to walk into. The country’s 70 million gun owners cannot be stacked 50 deep in their closest gun store filling out the forms for a temporary transfer of one of their rifles to a nephew or neighbor to go hunting in November.Use of existing Form 4473 by private sellers - Take a look at it for yourself here; the information you are required to provide on a 4473, especially to avoid the three-day delay if you have a common name, is identity theft on a silver platter. More than enough to apply for a credit card in the buyer’s name. As the buyer, if the UBC system used the existing 4473, private sales would be effectively banned because nobody would trust a perfect stranger from GunBroker not only to safeguard that form for 20 years, but to not misuse the date themselves in that time.It can be done; I’ve detailed a system in previous answers that avoids all three of these while still producing a valid, verifiable, impossible-to-fake record of the background check and sale, using a digital signature system and REAL ID-compliant “document discriminator” numbers. The authenticity of the record of sale can be independently verified with just the information on the form and a public-key signature algorithm, so the government retains no record of the check or transfer to verify the document is legit, the seller only has to verify the identity of the buyer with a REAL ID compliant ID card (which all driver licenses will be by 2020), and the identifying information actually printed on the form is a name, address and DL number, plus info about the firearm that was sold, which is not even enough to “replay” the check fraudulently for another firearm (you have to enter the ID’s audit number, and those are unique to every issued card and not reproduced on the record of sale). In the form of a smartphone app, or a web app, it would be easier to use, and harder to spoof, than the existing NICS system.What’s the benefit? If properly enforced, you’ll quickly find and shut down the chronic straw-buyers responsible for the majority of trafficking of illegally-possessed weapons. When the penalty for not using this very easy system is 10 years in prison, you’re going to see halfway-decent compliance.There. Pass those three laws, and enforce them, and you’ll see gun violence and mass shootings go way down. Zero? No. Not even countries like the UK or Australia have seen zero mass shootings after passing near-total bans. But you will make a big difference.

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