Forty years ago I attended University in Munich, Germany as part of my professional training. When I returned to the states I brought with me a hope that I could communicate some of the good things I learned while living in a social democracy — things that might make our society better. What I learned is that our American society is complex and strongly independent. And huge. So those good ideas — I just let them go.
Now however, given the vitriol surrounding the recent mass shootings, it seems timely to offer practical solutions from that experience. The criteria for gun ownership there consists of: minimum age requirement; trustworthiness; personal adequacy; expert knowledge; and necessity. These criteria provide in-depth screening and competency requirements, including psychiatric evaluation, where appropriate. Germany, with gun ownership among the highest in all western countries, lists homicides due to firearms at .07/100,000 (U.S. is 3.64/100,000). This includes those firearms attained illegally.
One of my colleagues needed two attempts to pass the required expert knowledge test before he attained his license. He said it was harder than his exams in medicine. Case in point: my friend earned his guns and the right to use them.
Roy Johnson, Bellevue