A Gun-Owner's Proposal for Gun Reform

Updated on August 8, 2019
JesseUnk profile image

I'm a Republican, have owned guns since I was legally able, and have had my CCW for years. I believe in gun reform

Gun Control Debate

Semi-auto rifles
Semi-auto rifles

How I've Changed Towards Guns

Yes, that's me, at least me at the age of 13. Before I start this article I'd like to give a bit of background to who I am and how guns have been a part of the fabric of my life. My father has always owned guns, and they were always around the house. We were taught never to touch them, learned how to use them in an emergency, and overall had a responsible upbringing and a respect for the power guns possessed.

My uncle is an avid hunter. We talk about different guns he trades or buys, I see pictures of the animals he's shot, and we've even traded a few guns together once. When I turned 21, the first thing I did was buy a drink legally, and the second thing I did was get my CCW and purchase my first handgun, a Glock 19 that I still own and carry to this day. I've owned 3 other guns since then, a .357 Magnum, a .38 revolver, and an AR-15. Yes, an AR-15.

Smith and Wesson .45
Smith and Wesson .45

You may wonder why a man who has had a positive outlook on guns his whole life, owns guns, has owned the highly criticized AR-15, and even has his CCW would want to talk about gun reform. While the world looks at America in amazement at the school shootings, mass killings, and extreme violence that has happened over the past few years, they have missed the major problem. Many claim our issue is assault rifles, mental illness, guns in general, video games, or bullying. The conversation sparks with every mass shooting we endure, and even now with Florida students challenging the system, I believe we've missed the point. Both sides have presented arguments that have valid reasoning. On one hand, we don't do enough to help with mental illness. On the other, guns are incredibly easy to buy.

I've acquired all of my guns legally in the state of Ohio, all in different ways. The first time I bought a gun, I did so at a gun show. The business represented was not considered a private seller so I went through the background checks, waited for approval, showed my license, and eventually purchased my gun and left a few minutes later. The second gun I purchased was from a private seller. In the state of Ohio and many other states, a private seller is not required to run a background check to sell a gun to you. I simply paid for the gun in a public parking lot and walked away. The third time I acquired a gun was when I traded the previously mentioned gun for my AR-15. This was done legally through the same private seller loophole, and the transaction took place in a Walmart parking lot. Finally, I traded my AR-15 to my uncle for a pistol. This took place in his living room. All of this was legal by the letter of the law. None of my guns are registered to my name.

As more and more massacres happened in our country I began to think about what the issue was. When I looked back at the ways I acquired my guns, I wondered if this process was really a safe one. Two men who sold me a weapon had no idea about my character, mental state, or background, and yet they sold to me anyway. Very often, the same legal process of purchasing guns has been performed by the shooters of various massacres in our country.

These incidences in our country brought me to begin researching independently for the causes of our gun problem in America. I've come to believe the process of owning a gun is far too lax in our country. The following stats serve to support this hypothesis.

How Do You Feel About Guns?

How would you classify yourself?

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Gun Violence in America

America is the leader of the world in gun violence statistics.
America is the leader of the world in gun violence statistics.

Gun Death Statistics by State

The first thing I'd like to identify is exactly how many deaths we have by firearms in America, and break it down by state. Obviously smaller states will have fewer deaths due to population, so the rates are adjusted per 100,000 individuals for reference. I've broken the numbers down to see the rate of deaths as well as the total deaths by state.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: The following number of deaths are per 100,000 individuals in 2016. These are broken down into five sections, ranging from the least deadly 10 states to the most deadly 10 states by deaths per 100,000 people.

3.4-9 deaths:

  • California (5.5 or 3,186 deaths)
  • Connecticut (4.6 or 172 deaths)
  • Maine (8.3 or 123)
  • Massachusetts (3.4 or 242 deaths) *This is the least deadly state by gun per 100,000 people*
  • Minnesota (7.6 or 432)
  • New Jersey (5.5 or 485)
  • New York (4.4 or 900)
  • Rhode Island (4.5 or 49) *Least deaths by gun in 2016*
  • Washington (9 or 686)

9.1-11.9 deaths:

  • Delaware (11 or 111)
  • Illinois (11.7 or 1,490)
  • Iowa (9.2 or 288)
  • Maryland (11.9 or 707)
  • Nebraska (9.1 or 171)
  • New Hampshire (9.3 132)
  • North Dakota (11.9 or 90)
  • Oregon (11.9 or 513)
  • Vermont (11.1 or 78)
  • Wisconsin (11.4 or 664)

12-13.7 deaths:

  • Florida (12.6 or 2,704)
  • Kansas (13.4 or 383)
  • Michigan (12.3 or 1,230)
  • North Carolina (13.7 or 1,409)
  • Ohio (12.9 or 1524)
  • Pennsylvania (12 or 1,555)
  • South Dakota (13.4 or 108)
  • Texas (12.1 or 3,353) *Most deaths by gun in 2016*
  • Utah (12.9 or 370)
  • Virginia (12.1 or 1,049)

14.3-17.5 deaths:

  • Arizona (15.2 or 1,094)
  • Colorado (14.3 or 812)
  • Georgia (15 or 1,571)
  • Idaho (14.6 or 242)
  • Indiana (15 or 997)
  • Kentucky (17.5 772)
  • Nevada (16.8 or 498)
  • Tennessee (17.2 or 1,148)
  • West Virginia (17.5 or 332)
  • Wyoming (17.4 or 101)

17.7-22.3 deaths:

  • Alabama (21.5 or 1,046)
  • Alaska (23.3 or 177) *This is the most deadly state by gun per 100,000 people*
  • Arkansas (17.8 or 541)
  • Louisiana (21.3 or 987)
  • Mississippi (19.9 or 587)
  • Missouri (19 or 1,144)
  • Montana (18.9 or 194)
  • New Mexico (18.1 or 133)
  • Oklahoma (19.6 or 766)
  • South Carolina (17.7 or 891)

There were 38,551 total deaths by firearm in 2016.

How Many Gun Laws are in the United States?

There are 7 core gun laws, but arguably as many as 20,000 total specific laws pertaining to guns.
There are 7 core gun laws, but arguably as many as 20,000 total specific laws pertaining to guns.

Types of Gun Laws in the United States

One of the things that separate our states are the differences in gun laws between each one. Because gun laws are different between states, it's easy to assess how gun laws influence gun-related deaths based on the number of deaths we have in states that are more or less regulated by gun laws. There are various laws that can be adopted by each state, but there are 7 that are most common around the country.

According to the Washington Post and the Boston University School of Public Health State Firearm Law database, the following types of gun legislation occur in various states.

Red Flag Laws

The state allows law enforcement to initiate a process to confiscate firearms from any person (deemed by a judge) who represents a threat to themselves or others. California, Oregon, and Washington also allow family members to initiate this process.

Relinquishment Laws

The state mandates that any person who becomes disqualified from possessing a firearm (for example, because of a domestic abuse conviction) must turn in their firearms.

Assault Weapons Ban

The state prohibits the sale of assault weapons. (Congress banned assault weapons nationally in 1994, but the ban expired in 2004.)

High-Capacity Magazine Ban

State bans the sale of assault pistol ammunition and other high-capacity magazines.

Prohibitions for High-Risk Individuals

Firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, those with a history of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, or those considered by the court to be dangerous.

Prohibitions for Individuals With Domestic Violence Convictions

Firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of domestic violence, those with a domestic-violence-related restraining order or those convicted of stalking.

Mandatory Universal Background Checks

The state requires a background check either at the point of purchase or through a permit requirement, including sales through private dealers and at gun shows.

Different State Gun Laws

Below is a table that breaks down each state and what laws they enforce within their borders. There is a mark for each law, a column for total laws enforced within the state, and the death rate by gun per 100,000 individuals. You can sort by column by clicking a column's header, and if you do so on the column that indicates the number of laws enforced, you'll see a correlation between the number of laws enforced and the number of gun-related deaths.

Deadliest States for Guns

(click column header to sort results)
State  
Red Flag Laws  
Relinquishment Laws  
Assault Weapon Ban  
High Capacity Magazine Restriction  
High Risk Individuals  
Domestic Violence  
Mandatory Background Checks  
Total Number of Laws In Place  
Deaths Per 100,000  
Alabama
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
21.5
Alaska
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
23.3
Arizona
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
15.2
Arkansas
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
17.8
California
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
7
7.9
Colorado
 
 
 
X
X
X
X
4
14.3
Connecticut
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
7
4.6
Delaware
 
 
 
 
X
X
X
3
11
Florida
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
12.6
Georgia
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
15
Hawaii
 
X
 
 
X
X
X
4
4.5
Idaho
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
0
14.6
Illinois
 
X
 
 
X
X
X
4
11.7
Indiana
X
 
 
 
 
X
 
2
15
Iowa
 
 
 
 
X
X
X
3
9.2
Kansas
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
13.4
Kentucky
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
17.5
Louisiana
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
1
21.3
Maine
 
 
X
X
X
X
 
4
8.3
Maryland
 
 
X
X
X
X
X
5
11.9
Massachusetts
 
X
 
 
X
X
X
4
3.4
Michigan
 
 
 
 
X
 
X
2
12.3
Minnesota
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
7.6
Mississippi
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
19.9
Missouri
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
19
Montana
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
0
18.9
Nebraska
 
 
 
 
X
X
X
3
9.1
Nevada
 
 
 
 
X
X
X
3
16.8
New Hampshire
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
1
9.3
New Jersey
 
 
X
X
X
X
X
4
5.5
New Mexico
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
18.1
New York
 
X
X
X
X
X
X
5
4.4
North Carolina
 
 
 
 
X
X
X
3
13.7
North Dakota
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
11.9
Ohio
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
12.9
Oklahoma
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
19.6
Oregon
X
 
 
 
X
X
X
4
11.9
Pennsylvania
 
X
 
 
X
X
X
4
12
Rhode Island
 
 
 
 
X
 
X
2
4.1
South Carolina
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
17.7
South Dakota
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
13.4
Tennessee
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
17.1
Texas
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
12.1
Utah
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
12.9
Vermont
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
1
11.1
Virginia
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
12.1
Washington
X
 
 
 
X
X
X
4
9
West Virginia
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
17.5
Wisconsin
 
 
 
 
X
X
 
2
11.4
Wyoming
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
1
17.4

The 5 Deadliest States in America

Based on the information above, the 5 most deadly states per 100,000 individuals are Alabama, Alaska, Lousiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

Combined, the 5 states have 6 total gun laws in place, with only Alabama having more than one. The 5 least deadly states are Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. They have a combined 22 laws in place, with only Rhode Island having less than 4.

Do Laws Stop Gun Deaths?

One of the arguments opposing stricter gun laws is the simple fact that criminals fail to follow laws in the first place. There is fear that if the laws are put in place, the law-abiding citizens of America will follow them, and thus be left defenseless when criminals fail to follow the laws are remain armed and dangerous. Based on the numbers written above I came up with the average number of gun-related deaths as pertaining to states that help 0 to 7 of the laws mentioned above. The numbers break down as such:

States With 0 Laws: 16.75 deaths per 100,000 individuals

States With 1 Law: 15.6 deaths per 100,000 individuals

States With 2 Laws: 13.2 deaths per 100,000 individuals

States With 3 Laws: 11.96 deaths per 100,000 individuals

States With 4 Laws: 8.96 deaths per 100,000 individuals

States With 5 Laws: 8.15 deaths per 100,000 individuals

States With 6 Laws: No states have 6 laws in place

States With 7 Laws: 6.25 deaths per 100,000 individuals

The data shows that as a state adopts more laws pertaining to gun control, that the amount of gun-related deaths drops significantly. With each law put into place, the number of deaths drops in a linear fashion, with no increases at all from one level to the next. In fact, based on the numbers states with 0 laws have 10.5 more deaths per 100,000 individuals than states that enforce all 7.

Do Gun Laws Prevent Crime?

Do you feel gun laws prevent crime?

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How Suicide Affects Gun Mortality Rates

While the numbers on gun-related deaths are staggering, it is also important to understand that these numbers do not pertain specifically to homicide and violence. Many of the deaths related to guns are done by the individual themselves in the form of suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2016, 51% of all suicides were completed with the use of a firearm for a total of 22,938 people who ended their lives with a gun. This means that of the 33,551 deaths caused by a firearm in 2016, only 10,613 of the deaths were caused by intentions outside of suicide.

How many gun deaths are suicide?
How many gun deaths are suicide?

What Percentage of Gun Deaths Are Suicide?

With suicide accounting for more than half of all gun-related deaths, one could argue that the gun violence in America is largely overblown with a misdirection of statistics that include suicide to promote an agenda. Surely the numbers are overblown by more than half, and changing laws on the possession of guns won't keep a suicidal person from killing themselves another way. If a person can't get ahold of a gun to shoot themselves, they can just as easily jump off a bridge or hang themselves instead. While this seems like a logical conclusion, statistics and numbers say differently.

While the CDC and other agencies have no way to document attempted suicides, they do have rough data accumulated from hospital records and testimonies that gives us a close look at how suicide works from a numbers standpoint.

According to a Harvard Study, the following are the success rates of various suicide methods:

  • Firearms: 82.5% success rate
  • Drowning/Submersion: 65.9% success rate
  • Hanging/Suffocation: 61.4% success rate
  • Poisoning by Gas: 41.5% success rate
  • Jumping: 34.5% success rate

The reason this is important is that of the effectiveness of a gun. It is an immediate and quick death that is highly effective in its finality. There is zero chance to turn back once the trigger is pulled. All other forms of suicide take time. Drowning requires getting into the water and staying there. Hanging requires a setup of tying a rope, putting it on, and then dropping. Poisoning by gas is a long process that can be avoided by simply leaving the room or car. Jumping requires a trip to a high area and a conscious decision to jump or go over the rail. All of these are a much slower process, with more time to change your mind than simply putting the gun to your head and pulling the trigger.

Guns, Suicide, and Repeated Attempts

Many people are under the assumption that when someone is suicidal they will find a way to kill themselves no matter what. While this is the case sometimes, often times it is not. According to a Harvard Study, 9 of 10 individuals who attempt suicide and survive will not die by suicide at a later date. Of the studied individuals, 7% went on to successfully end their lives at a later date, 23% attempted again and failed, and 70% of them never had another attempt of suicide in their lives.

With the data accrued above we can see that for the 22,938 suicides by gun, there were another 3,899 attempts by a gun that failed. Had those 26,837 people who attempted suicide not had a gun and had to resort to another method, at least 17,686 people would have survived statistically. Of that number 16,448 people would have never killed themselves based on the data for repeat suicide attempts listed above.

Statistics show that the more preparation needed to attempt suicide, the lower the chance of success. With a gun, it's as simple as pulling the trigger. It's an instantaneous effect that can't be taken back. With other forms it takes time; drowning you can come up for air after second thoughts, jumping requires a trip to a high place that gives plenty of time to change your mind, poison can be avoided with a quick call to the ambulance. Each of those attempts are far less successful than using a firearm as well. If guns were less available the data shows that gun deaths would be lowered by means of suicide as well as violence.

How to end gun violence
How to end gun violence

A Proposal for Proper Gun Reform

The problem in America is we have too many people that are on both sides of the argument at the farthest possible point. The answer is not to take guns from people, and it isn't to keep things the same. I have a proposal that breaks down into various parts that I believe will help to aide the violence and suicide rate, as well as allowing law-abiding citizens to keep their guns without fear of losing them so long as they remain law-abiding.

Step 1: Require a License

  • In order to purchase, own, trade, and use a gun you will be required to get a license. The process that allows you to get your license includes a safety and handling course, shooting class, and a test covering the laws related to firearms. Once you have completed this process you must take a mental health check as well as a background check. When these tasks have been accomplished you will receive your license and simply have to show it anytime you purchase a weapon.
  • The mental check and background check would only deny you your license if you had a history of violence (i.e. abuse, robbery, assault, drug abuse, etc.) or of a mental illness that doesn't allow you to maintain control of yourself (schizophrenia, bipolar, multiple personalities, etc.)
  • This process immediately gets rid of all mentally unstable individuals from purchasing weapons. It ensures that everyone with a weapon is well educated on the laws pertaining to their weapon, how to properly operate it, and how to shoot it. This helps the safety of the public as well as the gun owner.

Step 2: Ending Gun Show Loopholes

  • Private sellers are no longer allowed to bypass background checks. If a private seller wants to sell a weapon at a gun show they must check and scan a copy of the buyer's gun license.
  • This keeps criminals from bypassing the system and buying weapons from gun shows legally without repercussions. The reason for scanning a copy of the license is to protect the seller. Should someone fabricate a fake license and commit a crime after their purchase, the seller is safe and justified in selling to what they believed was a legitimate legal buyer.

Step 3: Trading and Selling Weapons Option 2

  • Another option for trading and selling guns will be to do so at a preordained location. This can be one of three locations; an accredited gun store that legally sells guns, a police station, or a courthouse. The two parties will show their licenses to whoever is in charge at the location, make the transaction once the ok is given, and go on their way.
  • This is for anyone who wants another option or can't scan and copy their licenses at the time. Instead of meeting in a parking lot like I did, they are given a safe location to make a transaction, knowing they're safe from bodily harm as well as repercussions for the actions of their buyer in the future.

Step 4: Strict Penalties for Gun Violations

  • If a person is found to have knowingly sold a gun to someone without a license they will face a prison sentence of 10 years. If a person knowingly sells a gun to someone who does not have a license and then they commit a crime or murder with that gun, the seller will face an equal penalty to that of the criminal.
  • This is to discourage uneducated selling of weapons to strangers without licenses. No honorable and law-abiding citizen wants to sell a gun to a criminal or questionable person, and the people who otherwise would probably decide not to if they know they have a minimum of 10 years hanging over their head if they're caught, and a maximum of life in prison should their buyer murder someone. It's as simple as checking a license, and it ends many of our problems immediately.

Step 5: Federal Law

  • In order for these laws to be effective, they must take place on a national level. States can no longer determine what laws are fit for them individually. According to the Washington Post one of the worst cities in America with gun violence, Chicago, rarely has guns purchased within the state. In fact, a fifth of the guns seized in Chicago were purchased in Indiana, a state with private sales loopholes. Another 9% of guns seized were from Mississippi and Wisconsin. This can't be allowed to happen in the future, and therefore these laws must be in place everywhere to stop loopholes from turning into violence.

Step 6: Gun Registration

  • All guns must be registered for the above actions to truly be able to be monitored. All guns are registered and when they change hands, their registry must change hands. This ensures we know who has guns or if a gun is used in a crime, who is responsible for the criminal getting their hands on the weapon.

This proposition handles many gun problems while allowing law-abiding citizens to keep their weapons. It keeps guns out of the hands of criminals because there are no loopholes for them to buy guns, and it makes gun sellers more aware of their actions because their lives are on the line if they sell to someone with ill intent. It protects individuals who go through the proper channels to sell guns from any repercussions connected to their buyer's actions. It helps to train all gun owners, educate them, and make them safer with their weapons before obtaining them, and it weeds out the criminals and mentally ill from obtaining a gun in the first place.

Do you think this proposal is a good compromise that protects gun owners rights as well as protecting the public?

Do you agree with this proposal?

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Why Guns Should Be Registered

Gun registration form
Gun registration form

Why Aren't Guns Registered?

The reason I made registering the last step of my proposal was that I knew many wouldn't continue reading once they saw it. I believe most gun owners would agree that the first 4 steps would possibly take some time, but they'd be open to the restrictions. I believe a bit of inconvenience in the purchasing period is worth keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, and most good people would agree. When it comes to registering though, even the good citizens are wary of what could happen. The government knowing who has what kind of firepower is a scary thought to many. But to this, I have a string of reasons why a forceful government collection of arms wouldn't and couldn't happen.

Reason 1: A Volunteer Military

  • If the government decided to disarm its people it would have to do so on the strength of our armed forces. The problem with this is our military is composed of citizens itself, who would be being asked to disarm their families, friends, and possibly themselves. I'm sure many, if not all of you, know at least a few military members who would never go against the Constitution or their loved ones to disarm them at the hands of a tyrannical government.

Reason 2: Sheer volume

  • Even if we disregard my previous reason, the entire armed forces in America is made up of about 2 million members. There are about 1.1 million law enforcement officers in America as well. Even in the unlikely event that every single member of the armed forces and law enforcement turned on the citizens of America and decided to help disarm the people they would still be vastly outnumbered. America has a population of 325 million people, with 310 million guns and an estimated 25-27% of Americans own guns. That means that between 81.25-87.75 million citizens are armed in America. Not only could they never withstand a defense of that magnitude, but each oppositional force would have to confiscate 100 guns each in order to disarm us. It's entirely impossible.

Reason 3: The Firepower

  • If the government ever tried to take over entirely, they would have two options. One would be to disarm us, which I showed above is an impossible battle for them to accomplish, and two is to have an all-out war against its people. In the second event, they wouldn't need to know who had registered weapons because they'd be rolling tanks, jets, and nukes onto our doorsteps. Their firepower would be impossible to overcome and it would be a mission of death, not confiscation of weapons. So even in the worst possible scenario, a registry of weapons causes no harm to the citizens. The evil government could never prevail.

I only speak on this because many people legitimately fear the government and feel their guns are their safe space. I believe any law-abiding person should never have a gun taken from them. Handguns, rifles, shotguns, whatever. If you follow the laws you should keep your guns, even in my proposal for reform. The problem is people spread this fear-mongering that the government even has the capability to take guns, which is entirely ludicrous. People need to think logically about how to protect the citizens, without falling into a money-grabbing propaganda proposal that gun makers and the NRA spew out to drive up gun sales out of fear. Gun reform doesn't have to be about taking guns, it just needs to be about proper checks and balances.

How to Stop Gun Violence

Protect the 2nd Amendment

Ultimately my goal in my reform proposal is to make America a safer place, without stepping on the rights of gun owners and the Constitution, for which I have the greatest respect. I understand the right to hunt, the right to protect myself and my family, and the right to even have a fun night shooting targets. But as a group of law-abiding citizens who pride themselves on their rights and being safe and responsible gun owners, we should also take time to become safe and responsible in the distribution, selling, and trading of firearms. Criminals and the mentally ill are getting their hands on guns far too often, but a simple few extra steps that we, as a group, can take will help to end that problem. My proposal may take up a bit more of our time, but it can certainly impact the safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and our fellow man. So the question I pose to you is this; are you willing to accept a slight inconvenience to improve the safety of our children and fellow man?

Are you willing to accept a slight inconvenience to improve the safety of our children and fellow man?

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Vote to Make a Change

Remember, if you like these ideas, or even if you have ideas on how to improve our country yourself, we are the ones who make a change. Either get out and vote for someone who agrees with how you think, or write and propose a bill yourself. If you like my ideas please share this article, and if you think of issues, suggestions, or simply want to have a conversation about it then comment below and let's discuss. Nothing gets done in America without conversation and improvement of ideas, and this is a starting point and platform to be shared and discussed for both sides of the argument. I hope to hear what you have to say and possibly see change come from these discussions. Because in the end, all people truly want is a safer and happier country to live in.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jesse Unk

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        Don Corbett 

        2 months ago

        Good and thoughtful articles Jesse. It would go a long way toward reducing gun violence. I personally would like to see more; limiting the amount of ammunition that a gun could shoot, eliminate assault type weapon for sale to the public, and eliminate the sale of protective vests to the public. Some guns could be kept at a secure range if it was important for some to enjoy shooting certain types of guns.

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