I come from a long line of gun owners. My maternal Grandfather owned a rifle. My paternal grandfather was a hunter, and I've had more than one wild turkey on Thanksgivings in my lifetime. My paternal uncles often hunted, though their weapons of choice were bows (and we used to eat freshly-hunted venison and once, when my parents didn't tell me what we were eating, rabbit). My father was a cop and won rewards for shooting. That's where I started from.
I have many friends who are gun owners. All of them, to a person, are responsible gun owners whom I trust implicitly. They, and a vast number of my fellow Americans, take care of their guns, make sure they're kept safely, and are living proof that gun control laws in the US are not extreme. In fact, I've seen studies recently which indicate that most everyday members of the NRA would like to see stricter gun regulations, and it's just the leadership which is extreme.
While I would not mind learning to shoot (and a longtime friend has issued a standing invitation to take Andy and me shooting), I believe that for reasons I should not own a gun. I'm not about to go public with my reasons, though I would be happy to discuss them via message or email. At any rate, I'm also far more interested in archery.
So, to get one straw man out of the way up front, I do not want all guns banned. I do not want my friends who own guns, or even a majority of gun owners, to have to sell them back or, worse yet, give them up despite their investments. Anyone who tries to couch gun control in that paradigm loses my respect immediately.
What I want are intelligent measures. I do not believe that just anyone should be able to buy a gun. People who want to buy guns should be required to prove that they know how to clean and store a gun, as well as that they've taken classes or have equivalent experience (such as military training) in shooting the type of gun they want to buy. This could be accomplished in a manner similar to obtaining driver's licenses.
In addition, I believe that background checks should be mandatory. I don't even think there needs to be a cooldown before any gun can be purchased. We have the technology, if not the infrastructure, to do background checks within seconds to make sure people have no criminal convictions. Additional flags could be added for people who have, say, a restraining order against them, or any other risk factors. That might delay their purchase for a few days while investigations are done and they might end up not being allowed to buy the gun, but it would be for a documentable reason.
As a gun-owner friend of mine points out, something similar is already in place. However, it does not apply to garage sales, gun shows, and other venues. This loophole needs to be closed, full stop.
Likewise, I believe that military-grade weapons and ammunition should not be in the hands of civilians. Anyone who wants to argue that an assault weapon is needed to bring down a deer can talk to my aforementioned uncles who hunted with bow and arrow -- deer have not evolved bullet-proof coats in my lifetime. Simply put, military-grade weapons and ammunition were created for only one purpose: to kill many people very quickly. They have their place in the military. They do not have their place anywhere else.
I was going to address some of the arguments from anti-any-regulation folks, but then I decided I'd deal with them if anyone made them in the comments. I'm not sure if I'll incorporate any in my post (if anyone even comments) or just in the comments, but I will answer either way.