At the start, you argue that simple, commonsense legislation is enough. But the rest of your point is that the US doesn’t have such legislation.
So we agree.
One of the biggest victories of the Australia National Firearms Agreement of ’96 was that it standardized gun laws across the country. Prior to ’96, it didn’t matter that New South Wales or Victoria had restrictive gun legislation, because you could get guns on mail order from other states regardless.
The studies that I cited evaluated the impact of legislation from other countries and, in some cases, various US states. The three proposed measures which have been estimated to significantly reduce the number of gun deaths in the US are:
- Nationally-standardized background checks (without the current huge variation from state-to-state). The benefit here is obvious. There is a very strong association between previous violent crime — especially domestic assault — and subsequent firearm use.
- Nationally-standardized background checks for ammunition. This measure limits the danger from illegal firearms, as it places an additional barrier on actually using them.
- National gun registration. This measure eliminates the issues you raised, with people gifting or selling guns privately without oversight. If you give your brother a gun for Christmas, he has to update an online form or call a firearms dealer to do it for him. In Australia, this usually takes a day or two, and then the ownership is transferred. Again, the benefits are pretty obvious, because this measure sharply limits who can access guns — you can’t sell to criminals — and also provides the police an easy way of tracing any gun back to the person who bought it.
None of these measures would significantly impact most gun owners. It’s possible they would increase the price of guns slightly — you have to pay for these services — but you would more than recoup that investment in things like decreased insurance and health costs.
And just these three measures have been estimated to be able to reduce the number of gun deaths in America by up to 90%.
So, yes. Simple, commonsense gun regulation could easily save innumerable lives.