A Possible Solution: Community Gun Courts
Credit: thetrace.org
December 14, 2015

I'm a big fan of community courts, an idea that's spread throughout much of the country.

That's because the judicial system far too often criminalizes actions that could be productively dealt with at the community level, and that erodes the stability of the community. It's much more productive to let the people who live there have some say in the appropriate way to handle low-level crimes.

And that's my philosophy for dealing with guns.

In many places, gun courts already exist -- but only for juveniles or non-violent offenders. I haven't had time to sit down and, you know, delve into it, but here are my thoughts on how to expand that kind of specialized jurisprudence.

First of all, a community court made up of your neighbors should automatically order guns to be put in police escrow for anyone who's in a high-risk situation. That includes any kind of violence or threats, separation or divorce, and child custody disputes. (When I've talked to people about this, they say, "Oh yeah, so your crazy neighbor can come after you because you took their guns away?" My response: All the more reason why he shouldn't have guns! How many shooting stories have we seen where the neighbors knew for years that the shooter was cuckoo bananas, and were virtually held hostage?)

The escrow period should be determined by actuarial tables. (I'm sure someone, somewhere, has researched how long intimate family members are at risk after a separation.) But they should be applied to everyone, because it's less likely to feed paranoia. "Hey, it happens to everyone who's getting divorced, what are you whining about?"

And when you have a teenage kid, one who family members, neighbors and teachers suspect of emotional instability, well, it's not like taking guns out of the house is equivalent to putting him in jail. (Obviously, there's a fine line between managing risk and creating a Department of Pre-Crime.) You can create some kind of risk assessment, and when someone hits a certain number of points, their guns and ammo are confiscated.

My problem with guns is, once they're in your possession, the more likely they are to appear as an appropriate solution to your problems, and those "solutions" destroy the quality of life in your community.

There should be a system that allows community members to have a say in how to lower that risk.

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