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.

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.

Gun Safety Compromise

Gun Safety Compromise

As a party with leanings from all across the political spectrum, it should surprise few that we're a pro-Second Amendment party. That's because we believe that a well-regulated armed citizenry is beneficial for the security of a free state if it is trained and equipped to serve the public interest. For this reason, the compromise we propose is based on respecting and encouraging firearm rights while strengthening protections against criminals and the mentally ill from accessing firearms. To do this, we seek to overhaul federal firearm laws nationwide that provide the following:

  • Universal, instant and free background checks: the first part of this compromise would create a conceptual Federal Firearm Identification Card (FFID), which would be issued free of charge to any American that is not prohibited from owning firearms after an in-person interview with their local police department. As a photo identification card, it would be required to purchase any firearm, ammunition, magazine or firearm accessory, and would be shall-issue barring a justifiable reason that could be challenged in court. This identification card would scan instantly like an ID at a liquor store, and all background checks would be instant and free of charge.
  • Removal of suppressors from classification under the National Firearms Act: we would remove suppressors and short-barreled rifles from classification as Class-III weapons, which would instead be sold over the counter to anyone with a valid FFID. Contrary to popular belief, suppressors (often called silencers) don't make firearms Hollywood-quiet, their primary purpose is recoil and sound reduction to prevent hearing damage when shooting. Additionally, we would allow suppressors to be used when hunting on federal land.
  • Establish a monetary protection for firearm rights: to demonstrate our seriousness in respecting Second Amendment rights, we would seek to legislate the value of firearm rights to be $1 million per firearm owned, meaning that any American citizen who had their firearms confiscated without judicial due process based on crime or mental illness could file suit against the government for up to that amount per firearm. Regulation does not automatically lead to confiscation - we're gun owners ourselves and this measure emphasizes that working to keep guns out of the hands of criminals doesn't need to come at the expense of our liberties.
  • Respect the right to own semi-automatic rifles: as gun owners, we believe that semi-automatic rifles have the highest potential for civilian defense against armed criminals and any foreign antagonist, and thus would be the rifle we would support for use in our proposed Civilian Defense Service (described shortly below). As such, under zero circumstance will we seek to ban semi-automatic rifles in any form nor restrict their magazine capacity.
  • Create more federally funded firearm practice and training ranges: to help Americans hone their skills in firearms and disaster preparedness, we intend to construct more federal firearm ranges nationwide. Open for public use year-round, these facilities would also be used to offer continual training programs to citizens.
  • Heightened standards for concealed carry permits with nationwide applicability: the messy patchwork of state laws governing concealed weapons permits and their acceptance in other states does little to further the best interests of public justice. To address this, we intend to establish higher training standards to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm, on the order of law enforcement today - except this training would be offered free of charge at the federally funded shooting ranges we'd seek to build nationwide. However, once that standard is met, this model would have concealed carry permits work like driver's licenses - if they are valid in one state they'd be valid in all.

This compromise takes a unique angle to our current gun debate. The first thing it does is institute a sweeping background check framework not just for guns, but for anything involving guns - including ammunition, magazines and firearm components. This makes it much more difficult across the board for criminals to access firearms or reload the guns they illegally own - yet it does so without burdening law-abiding citizens. This license would be issued free of charge and all background checks would not only be free but instant as well.

In exchange for supporting a background check framework, this model allows suppressors to be sold over the counter while also building more shooting ranges to help Americans hone their skills while at the same time placing a financial guarantee on their Second Amendment rights that our government cannot afford to tread on. These are the critical measures we offer in our compromise to prove to firearm owners that we are serious about respecting their rights while trying to curb the scourge of gun violence.

Lastly, this compromise settles the contentious debate surrounding concealed handguns nationwide. By increasing the standards to obtain a permit (ideally similar to that of a police officer today), an American citizen must demonstrate the skill and aptitude to wield a concealed firearm responsibly. However, once they have demonstrated that aptitude their permit should be valid in all 50 states.

By satisfying the core desires of gun control and gun rights advocates - increased regulation alongside increased expansion of rights - it can get us back onto the same page to concentrate on the criminal use of guns (and dealing with suicidal leanings through the National Health Service's mental health coverage), instead of burdening law-abiding firearm owners with ineffective measures.

From there, we seek to implement the second part of our compromise - the creation of a civilian defense service to complement professional defense forces.

Civilian Defense Service

Civilian Defense Service

The United States counts 100 million gun owners as citizens. Cognizant of the fact that we have hundreds of militias who are actively willing to stand for the national defense, it defies reason that we would pay trillions upon trillions for a national military when we have this potential force at the ready. Because of this, we intend to integrate and regulate armed citizens into a service that can be deployed for disaster relief and the national defense, a service that would eventually replace the National Guard and its functions today.

This function of replacing the National Guard is important because this service is what the National Guard was originally intended to do: provide a volunteer service that allows Americans to give back to their communities by assisting them in time of need. However, as National Guard members are classified as soldiers and under the command of the Department of Defense (and Uniform Code of Military Justice), they can be sent overseas to fight in wars just like any other military unit. Under no circumstance would that be the case with the Civilian Defense Service.

In this model, the Civilian Defense Service would be civilian and under command of a state's governor unless federalized by the President. Their standards would be set at the federal level and as they work in public service they would be subject to the authority of the Government Accountability Agency.

They would be trained in several fields relevant to civilian defense: disaster response, coordination of mass evacuations, search and rescue, rapid emergency shelter construction and field medicine, as well as auto mechanics and construction. For defensive applications, they would be trained in firearms operation, marksmanship, nonviolent crowd control and tactics for various-sized units. In a declared state of emergency, a state's governor can deputize their Civilian Defense Service to function as law enforcement and security forces - and only if the governor or President declares so.

As volunteers, they would be unpaid in service, but would receive a small stipend (less than $2,500 annually) and a generous reduction on their income taxes. Additionally, after passing basic training courses they would be issued a service rifle and sidearm they could keep at home indefinitely and have access to free ammunition at federal shooting ranges.

This shift in defense policy is a stark departure from the way we do things today. But how else can anything except a stark departure hope to change anything?

We spend more than a trillion dollars a year on our military - money that's effectively thrown out the window. We need to reallocate money to pay off our national debt and rebuild our society into one that is capable of meeting the challenges we face in the coming decades. America has the largest gun owning population on the planet, and militia groups are growing nationally and are feeling more emboldened in challenging the government with arms - to which any crackdown risks intense backlash from thousands of armed individuals in a hyper-partisan political climate. We ignore that social rift at our peril. But by encouraging firearm owners to join the national fold and incentivize their service by demonstrating through our actions that we respect their rights, we defuse this growing problem while earning valuable service at the same time.

Restructuring national defense through volunteer service frees up huge sums of money that we otherwise devote to a professional military. That allows us to further pay off debt and invest in infrastructure, healthcare, education and our core needs as society. It also provides a dedicated social service for Americans to join to learn new skills, serve their communities and build themselves stronger. Combined, this approach helps form greater social cohesion and a more capable society that's empowered to lift itself to greater heights.

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