The Civilian Defense Service
Today, 100 million Americans own an estimated 310 million firearms. That's four and a half times larger than every professional military on the planet combined.
A New Approach to Domestic Defense
Yet between the Pentagon's budget and additional military spending (VA, interest on war debt, Homeland Security, clandestine services, etc.) we still pay more than $1 trillion annually on a military force that's billed as “national defense,” a military that has lost many trillions of dollars to waste, fraud and nonexistent accounting practices.
At the same time, increasing social turmoil has led to the rise of hundreds of armed militias across the nation that, alongside tens of millions of American gun owners, have no intention of disarming. And although gun violence is on the decline overall nationwide, gun violence through gangs and other violent criminals is still rampant, and an increasingly stark social divide over gun control has divided us bitterly as a people.
Not only do these circumstances reflect a situation that needs to change, it is today abundantly clear that the only thing with any potential to change anything is a compromise that works for all sides to this argument. To explain what this means and how it can work, we must first ignore several myths surrounding American gun ownership and start framing our circumstances honestly. This comes through the realization of six important points:
First: at 100 million gun owners, our status as an armed society is set in stone. It's been suggested that Australia's mandatory buyback of 660,000 guns in a country of (then) 18 million people might be a model for adoption in the United States, but that scale has little applicability in a society where 100 million people own an estimated 310 million firearms. American firearms are going nowhere, and there is nothing anyone or anything can do to change that fact.
Second: the Second Amendment protects an individual right to both keep and bear arms - the militia is not the military, it's a non-professional contingent of volunteer civilians as it's always been defined. The Supreme Court has agreed with this assessment, and considering the results of the 2016 election it's not likely to change its mind anytime soon. Yet rights are no closer to suggestions than they are absolute, thus we can enact compromises that aid in firearm safety while encouraging the free exercise of the Second Amendment. Any chance of compromise, however, must come from honestly respecting firearm ownership as a constitutional right.
Three: the hundreds of militias in the United States can either have great benefit or great danger, depending on how their usually well-intentioned beliefs ultimately manifest into action. Unless one wants to risk another civil war by trying to disarm them, their presence is here to stay.
Four: although 2/3 of all gun deaths are suicides, we still lose approximately 10,000 people annually to gun violence, and there is approximately one mass shooting every day of the year.
Five: of our firearm owning population, each have varying degrees of firearm training. Although only eight states require criminal background checks for private gun sales, roughly 70% of all guns sold in the United States are performed under a background check.
Six: we spend more than $1 trillion annually on our professional military, which is roughly half of the federal discretionary budget.
These are the plain facts of our circumstances, and the only aspect of them that is subject to change is how we approach gun ownership as a society and seek to reduce gun death and gun crime. So where do we go from here? In short: create a compromise that gives all sides what they want.