How about this for a proposed solution to high sec ganking and giving players the chance to retaliate/defend.
New player corps stay as they are (the 12 starter corps only). However a player can only remain in these corps for a limited period to learn the game and must then move on to either one of the other NPC corps or a player run Corp. These NPC corps are the ones currently filled by players who have left noob corps, gone to a player Corp and then return to an NPC one.
These NPC corps are made strict in what standards of conduct are allowed by player members. Zero tolerance for initiating combat (not suspect flagging offences, criminal flag only) with other players in high sec. breaking of this rule immediately ejects you to the pirate faction NPC corp aligned with the regions of character ancestry ( same faction alignment as rats in character birth region). No coming back to a “good” NPC corp until your sec status reaches a nominal value.
The aggressing characters are now members of a pirate faction and visible to all. These Pirate NPC corps do not require any change to war Dec mechanics as all players are permanently classed as viable targets. Docking rights at some stations would be unavailable due to their association with a pirate faction.
I see that this might add an element of upset where a new player accidentally shoots another player “just to see what happens” but as long as this “accident” occurred during the time with the noob Corp then it wouldn’t affect their future.
This could make piracy a career choice with appropriate side effects and possibly also kick start a way of making bounty hunting viable.
What about player corps already engaged in ganking across high sec? Well, these guys are already open to war decs if anyone wants to challenge them, however alignment with a pirate faction could be enforced if corp members breach a certain value of kills against non war targets. This could work along the lines of Corp faction standings where average of all players affects Corp total.