It’s this type of profound virtual reality experience experts think can be used to reduce reoffending by domestic violence perpetrators. Perpetrators of domestic

What would it take for Americans to finally agree we need a mandatory unified gun licensing, training, certification-recertification regime with background checks, license tiers, trust vouchers, registration, transfer reporting, & waiting periods?

How about when you and others like you who advocate for these same things, agree to all these same requirements on the right to vote?

This is a simple thought experiment I encourage people who advocate for gun control to perform; apply the same restriction, as it would be implemented for guns by the political ideologues asking for the restriction, to the exercise of a right you actually care about.

Case in point:

  • Before you can vote, you will be required to attend a government-approved training course and pass a test covering a curriculum set by people hand-picked by the politicians who wanted this, for whom there are two acceptable outcomes; you vote for their party, or you don’t vote at all. If your answers sound even suspiciously like the rhetoric of the opposing party, you fail. In the practical qualification, if you take too long, don’t accurately check the correct box, or demonstrate any behavior that would make you unsuitable to vote, the instructor proctoring the qualification will dismiss you from the test facility and you will not be able to vote.
  • Before you cast your ballot, you have to fill out a form with your name, address, place and date of birth, height, weight, hair and eye color, and Social Security Number, and then attest that you are in the United States legally and long-term (citizen or permanent resident), voting for yourself and not in someone else’s name, not convicted of any felony (except for a few financial regulatory crimes), not convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, not currently under information or indictment on any felony or misdemeanor domestic violence charge, not a fugitive from justice (warrant outstanding for any offense, even failure to appear on a traffic ticket), not subject to a court order restraining you from harrassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner, your child, or a child of your intimate partner, not an unlawful user of narcotic drugs (marijuana is illegal under Federal law; if you consume marijuana or any derivative of same without Federal permission to do so, you cannot vote even if it’s legal in your state), not dishonorably discharged from the military, and not adjudicated as a mental defective, nor ever committed involuntarily to a mental institution (court-ordered inpatient alcohol/drug rehab counts).

    You must then hand this form, which is identity theft on a silver platter, to the volunteer running the polling place, who will input this information into a Federal system designed to say that you’re lying on at least one of these affirmations. If you are, and you knew or reasonably should have known it was a lie, you go to Federal prison for 5 years, and having been convicted of a “voting crime”, you will never get your voting rights back; Federal judges are prohibited by a budgetary act from considering your petition, and no President will ever pardon some random guy for such a heinous voting-related crime.

  • You mentioned “tiers” of licensing; so the rules get stricter as the scope of your vote broadens. The “usual” vetting might allow you to vote for city and/or county representation; a stricter set of requirements are imposed for voting in State Legislature elections, stricter still for statewide office and for Federal Congress, and you better embody the Bureau of Voting and Free Speech’s ideals for a member of the electorate to vote for the President.
  • Before you can vote, you have to provide 3 letters of recommendation from residents of the same voting district, whom you have known personally for at least 7 years, attesting that you are a fine, upstanding citizen with strong cultural ties to your community, who is highly unlikely to misuse your vote contrary to the community’s best interests. If you move, the 7-year clock starts over.
  • Before you vote, you have to pay a $200 registration fee to the Bureau of Voting and Free Speech, and submit a detailed form regarding the circumstances of your registration to vote in a particular scope of election. The paperwork can take up to 9 months to complete. If you take your voter registration card across state lines, even to visit, you owe the BVF another $200, and God help you if you didn’t tell them about the move 10 months in advance.
  • Any transfer of knowledge from one voter to another that could be material in making an election-day decision must be reported to the BVF before the transfer occurs, with a similar form required as to register to vote. This same reporting requirement applies to any material assistance given to a voter, including transportation to or from a polling place, aid in filling out paperwork or payment of fees, etc.
  • And finally, before you can vote, you must register your intention to vote for a certain candidate with the polling place, in person, and must then wait 10 days before you can come back and cast your vote, to give you a cooling-off period during which time you will hopefully refrain from such a rash action.

Consider all these points very carefully; each of them has a direct analog to a gun law and/or implementation of same in the Federal system or that of at least one State. Now, ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  1. How effective will this program be at preventing people for whom there is some broad supermajority consensus that they shouldn’t vote from doing so?
    1. By “broad supermajority consensus”, I’m talking about 85% or better of US citizens and legal residents who agree a person in the target demographic should not vote.
  2. How likely is this program to discourage those who could and would otherwise vote legally and responsibly from doing so?
    1. Bear in mind that the US political party more in favor of gun control also tends to have the larger problem with voter turnout among demographics that favor their party.
  3. How willing are you, personally, to put up with the required processes of this program in order to cast your own vote?
    1. A corollary; after going through all this, would you still feel that voting in US elections is a “right” that you can exercise without anyone else’s prior permission, or has it become a “privilege” extended to you by the government at its discretion?

I can hear the counterarguments:

  • “Voting is nowhere near as dangerous as owning a gun” – I beg to differ, and anyone who has paid attention to the last, oh, 20 years of US national politics would likely agree. As is commonly said, often to mock one’s opponents, “elections have consequences”. Further, whose who are scholars at virtually any level of expertise in 20th Century world history would say that voting your emotions in a time of turmoil and discontent with the status quo and the world order was the leading cause of untimely death in that century. No single citizen’s vote puts an incompetent or outright dangerous man in power, but the power of a very simple and direct sentiment, “f*** you”, isn’t just tolerated in voting, it is the essence of US national elections.
  • “Some of these restrictions aren’t all that bad” – Maybe not for you. For the black voters in Louisiana that were given this literacy test, because they could not provide documented proof of a fifth grade education, the registrar might as well have said, “No, of course you can’t vote, what are you thinking, showing up with that color skin? Get out and don’t come back”.

    So it is with guns, in jurisdictions where many of your proposals are already law. If you’re not seen as the “right sort” by the permitting authority, no amount of paperwork will change that impression. The only type of paper that will make a difference is printed mostly in black on one side, green on the other. And if you doubt that, consider that both the left-leaning New York Times and the right-leaning New York Post say as much about firearms permitting in New York City.

  • “Voting is the foundation of a democracy, of course it’s absolute” – I agree. And so is ensuring the government rules by consent of the governed, by in turn assuring that the government does not hold a monopoly on the legal use of deadly force. When government officials know that people not only take free and fair elections seriously, but have alternate means to ensure they are (which has happened, in living memory of some of our older residents), they’re going to bend over backwards to make them pass any test we can devise to define “free and fair” in an election.

The advice stands; apply the restriction, in as close a form as you can, to a right you yourself freely and consciously exercise on a regular basis, and ask yourself if you would tolerate said restriction. If you can honestly envision a functioning democracy in which some fundamental right of the people other than gun ownership is subject to your restriction, complete with the “potential for evil” in the implementation of the restriction by the very last person you’d want to have running your government, then maybe we can talk.

If, however, you find one or more of these restrictions unreasonably difficult to lawfully work through, self-serving to those in power, easily abused for personal gain in or out of politics, or just plain offensive or distasteful to your conscience – or all of the above – then you have begun to understand the reaction gun owners have to proposals for yet another set of restrictions on their lawful ownership of a piece of property and a tool for personal protection as well as for sustenance and recreation.