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Why Not Regulate Guns Like Cars?

A recent discussion I had prompted me to revisit this topic (which I last discussed on-blog five years ago). There are lots of interesting, plausible arguments in the gun control debates — and some that seem appealing but on close viewing prove to be just plain unsound.

One of the latter kind is "Why not regulate guns like cars?" The implicit argument here is "Why not require licenses, registration, tests, and so on for gun possession?" See, for instance, Chicago's Million Moms March on Mother's Day, PR Newswire, Apr. 27, 2000, quoting Million March organizer Donna Dees-Thomases as saying "We want Congress to create a meaningful gun policy in this country that treats guns like cars"; Partnership for Prevention's New Report to Congress Recommends Gun Owner Licensing and Gun Registration, U.S. Newswire, Mar. 24, 2000, quoting Handgun Control, Inc. president Michael Barnes as saying "For years now, we have been calling on Congress to treat guns like cars by a system of licensing and registration."

This argument is odd because cars are basically regulated as follows (I rely below on California law, but to my knowledge the rules are similar throughout the country):

(1) No federal licensing or registration.

(2) Any person may use a car on his own private property without any license or registration. See, e.g., California Vehicle Code §§ 360, 12500 (driver's license required for driving on "highways," defined as places that are "publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel"); California Vehicle Code § 4000 (same as to registration).

(3) Any adult may get a license to use a car in public places by passing a fairly simple test that virtually everyone can pass.

This is pretty much how many gun rights advocates would like to see guns regulated, and is in fact pretty close to the dominant model in the 40 states that now allow pretty much any law-abiding adult to get a license to carry a concealed weapon: No need to register or get a license to have a gun at home, and a simple, routine test through which any law-abiding citizen can get a state license to carry a gun in public.

Gun control advocates would in reality prefer a much more onerous system of regulations for guns than for cars. Of course, one can certainly argue that guns should be regulated more heavily than cars; thoughtful gun control advocates do indeed do this. But then one should candidly admit that one is demanding specially burdensome regulation for guns — and not claim to be "merely asking that guns be regulated like cars."

Incidentally, I don't claim any great originality on these points: Others have made them before me, see, e.g., David Kopel's Taking It to the Streets, Reason, Nov. 1999. But some things are worth repeating.

liberty (mail) (www):
And what's the regulation for concealed highway driving? :)

(cloak of invisibility, anyone?)
5.10.2007 2:18pm
Preferred Customer:
A couple of points. First, cars aren't just registered with the state, they are titled with the state, too. I take it that gun control advocates would be urging some sort of uniform gun titling system, and I further take it that this would be anathema to gun rights advocates.

Second, you are minimizing the test administered for a driver's license for dramatic effect. While driving license standards in this country are woefully inadequate, they are at least ostensibly designed to demonstrate minimum proficiency with a device that, used improperly, can be deadly. It may be that "anyone can pass" these tests, but it is also true that minimum proficiency with a car is much more widespread than minimum proficiency with firearms. Moreover, most if not all drivers take some sort of class prior to taking the test. I am not an expert in such things, but my sense is that a similar regime is not common for firearm use.
5.10.2007 2:23pm
JB:
I'm from New York City, hotbed of gun control. It's really hard to get a driver's license in NYC. The test actually tests real driving skills, makes you parallel park, drive on crowded roads with all kinds of hazards...the testers are often very harsh...no born-and-bred New Yorker would characterize getting a driver's license as anything resembling trivial.

I'd imagine the same is true for many other urban areas, where gun control support disproportionately comes from.

That's not to say that the gist of the post isn't true.
5.10.2007 2:24pm
FantasiaWHT:

Of course, one can certainly argue that guns should be regulated more heavily than cars; thoughtful gun control advocates do indeed do this


That's a pretty tough argument to make, considering

a) the right to own a gun is protected by federal and state constitutions, the right to drive a car isn't

b) cars kill many more people than guns do
5.10.2007 2:28pm
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
Preferred Customer: in Minnesota, as well as many other states, one does have to take a class with a certified instructor before applying for a carry permit, and that class must include the "successful completion of an actual shooting exercise." (We did have a few, err, differently-clued instructors doing that exercise with pellet guns and/or laser training pistols, but the good folks at the BCA shut that practice down, after consultation both with some knowledgeable lawyers and others who they thought were knowledgeable, but who were not lawyers, as to what both the meaning of the law and what made sense was.)

Generally speaking -- and certainly including the shooting tests I conduct -- the exercise is easy to pass, by design and intention.

I think the few remaining "no issue" or "shall issue" states could easily do worse than adopting Minnesota's law, with some modifications from Missouri.
5.10.2007 2:32pm
What about the EPA?:
Could also be a problem if guns emit any pollution or greenhouse gases when fired. They certainly contribute to noise pollution. Does the EPA get control over guns, too?
5.10.2007 2:32pm
CEB:
An interesting comparison. What about the insurance angle? It's illegal to drive in every state (I assume) without insurance. If an insurance scheme was set up to pay for any injury or death from a gun (and administered fairly), it seems to me it would show how much safer guns are than cars--which gun-control advocates would not like.
5.10.2007 2:33pm
DNL (mail):
The NYC example is inapt. I have a NY license issued to me in NYC, and I never had to take that test. Why? Because I passed in another state.

I'm sure NYC wouldn't accept my carry permit issued in TN.
5.10.2007 2:35pm
bjr26:
I don't think the argument is odd if one doesn't approach it quite so literally. First, the federalist distinction for some gun control advocates -- including me -- is not all that important. I'd prefer to have states imposing the control, but in the absence of that, I'd happily endorse federal regulation.

Second, few people use cars in a purely private fashion. Thus, from a pragmatic standpoint, the use to which most cars are put -- driving on public roads -- are heavily regulated by states ("Why hello, Mr. CHP, and no, I didn't realize I was going 75 in a 20 mph zone..."). I'll grant that guns are put to private use far more often than cars, but the concern here is when guns are used "publicly."

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the value in having a test for gun ownership is not that it would make people safe, concientious users of guns (though this is surely a happy if incindental by-product of such tests). The value is the burden-slash-cost of the test itself! If people have to sign up for a boring class -- remember driver's ed? -- and then pay some (hopefully exorbinant) fee to own a gun, the chances of purchasing a weapon for an impulse crime fall off a cliff, don't they?

Finally, the other obvious objection to Prof. Volokh's argument is that it proves too little -- perhaps we need more driver regulation too! (I can hear the Volokh nation collectively shuddering as I type.) Certainly, I'm amazed that my 82-year-old Grandmother is allowed to drive without any state oversight, even though she clearly poses an extreme health safety hazard to anyone driving in the Clovis, CA area. So regulate Grandmas and guns.
5.10.2007 2:37pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Preferred Customer: To my knowledge, states that let people get concealed carry licenses generally require a fairly significant degree of testing and training (though not a vast amount, since you don't need a vast amount of training to learn basic safe gun handling and modest accuracy at the very short ranges required for nearly all defensive uses). I'm sure this varies considerably from state to state, but for instance Texas requires a proficiency test and, I'm told, a 10-to-15-hour training course.
5.10.2007 2:37pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
I live in a state that requires that any vehicle must be insured in order to be registered. In the recent past the major city in my state was estimated to have nearly 50% of its vehicle population ,these vehicles being driven regularly on public streets, unregistered, uninsured, and, to top it off, driven by unlicensed, suspended, revoked etc, drivers. So, it would seem, that this premise is as ineffective as any gun control scheme. The criminals, not surprisingly, ignore the law at no peril to themselves. It should also be noted that there is a thriving black market for counterfeit registration cards and stickers, as well as insurance cards and state required inspection stickers. So, please explain ,logically and lucidly, how this system applied to firearms would be any different.
5.10.2007 2:40pm
Carolina:
In addition to the list of points Prof. Volokh made, one more reason many pro-gun ownership individuals would like to see guns treated like cars is that there are no laws regulating what types of cars private citizens may own. I.e., own may own a car capable of traveling far, far in excess of the speed limit on public roads. No "assault car" bans for Ferraris, in other words.
5.10.2007 2:46pm
Carolina:
Grrr - darn typos. "Own may own" should be "One may own"
5.10.2007 2:46pm
KeithK (mail):
JB, you've just got to do what I did. Trek out to the farthest reaches of Queens, just minutes from the LI border. The test was a heck of a lot easier there than it ever would've been in the "real" NYC (yes, I am a Manhattan snob :-)).

Of course, I did this at age 26, which may have made it a little easier too.
5.10.2007 2:48pm
frankcross (mail):
Don't a lot of people carry guns, such as for hunting, off their property and unconcealed and hence unregistered?
5.10.2007 2:50pm
Proud to be a liberal :
Because cars (like guns) do not magically sprout on a person's private property and instead need to be brought to the home on public roads, any car that is sold by a reputable car dealer is registered before it leaves the lot and the car dealer generally checks the driver's driver's license to make sure that there is a licensed driver and also gets an insurance car.

My understanding that minimalist gun control which would require gun purchasers to have licenses and register their weapons are opposed by many gun contol opponents.
5.10.2007 2:52pm
WHOI Jacket:
I don't have to report it to the government if I decide to buy a car from Jim up the road to use on my farm.
5.10.2007 2:58pm
Kevin P. (mail):
bjr26:

The value is the burden-slash-cost of the test itself! If people have to sign up for a boring class -- remember driver's ed? -- and then pay some (hopefully exorbinant) fee to own a gun, the chances of purchasing a weapon for an impulse crime fall off a cliff, don't they?


So you really want to to make gun ownership difficult for all citizens, especially low income citizens.
5.10.2007 3:00pm
Windypundit (www):
One of the most important aspects of the way cars are regulated---and one of the hardest to duplicate for gun regulation---is that cars are regulated in good faith.

The State of Illinois requires residents to register their cars, and there are hundreds of places we can do that. The City of Chicago famously required residents to register their handguns and then refused to accept the registration forms, thus turning the registration law into a handgun ban.

Politicians and police officers have to have a license to drive a car, and they have to go through the same bureaucratic process I do, so it's fast and there aren't a lot of hurdles to jump. Can they believably promise the same thing for gun registration?

There is no significant anti-car lobby, so when I register my car I'm not worried that they'll use that information to confiscate my car. The same cannot be said for the anti-gun lobby.
5.10.2007 3:01pm
Preferred Customer:
Carolina:

I don't know much about guns, but I do know a bit about cars, and it simply isn't true that "there are no laws regulating what types of cars private citizens may own," at least insofar as a) use on public highways or b) importation into the United States is concerned. Try importing a vehicle that doesn't comply with FMVSS 108 and see what Customs does. Federal regulation of automobiles is pervasive.
5.10.2007 3:01pm
Truth Seeker:
any car that is sold by a reputable car dealer is registered before it leaves the lot and the car dealer generally checks the driver's driver's license to make sure that there is a licensed driver and also gets an insurance car.

Not if the buyer says he's lplanning to garage it and brings it home in a trailer or with a temporary tag.

My understanding that minimalist gun control which would require gun purchasers to have licenses and register their weapons are opposed by many gun contol opponents.

Yup! Just like liberals oppose minimalist controls for abortion and newspaper reporting.
5.10.2007 3:02pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Proud to be a liberal :

Because cars (like guns) do not magically sprout on a person's private property and instead need to be brought to the home on public roads, any car that is sold by a reputable car dealer is registered before it leaves the lot and the car dealer generally checks the driver's driver's license to make sure that there is a licensed driver and also gets an insurance car.


You can have a unregistered and uninsured car delivered to your property on a flatbed truck without any kind of check whatsoever. Citizens in some states would be overjoyed if they could take unloaded boxed guns home with them in the same manner.
5.10.2007 3:02pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Frank: Given that pro-gun-control forces often say they have little interest in unconcealed hunting longguns, I didn't think it necessary to go into this. But if you'd like to proposal a regulate-guns-like-cars proposal that combines shall-issue rules for concealed handgun licenses with requirements that unconcealed rifles be licensed, I'll view that as an acceptable compromise (especially given that one often needs a license to hunt in the first instance).

As to insurance, to my knowledge many gun owners are already insured for accidents involving their guns -- homeowners' insurance usually covers such things. If people who carry guns in public had to have insurance against damage caused by accidental injuries just like people who drive guns in public, that too won't be much of a problem in my book. (Insurance against intentional homicides may be harder to get, but do auto insurance policies cover intentional homicides? To my knowledge, insurance policies generally tend not to cover intentional crimes by the insured.)
5.10.2007 3:03pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
"any car that is sold by a reputable car dealer is registered before it leaves the lot and the car dealer generally checks the driver's driver's license to make sure that there is a licensed driver and also gets an insurance car. ".........Actually this has nothing to do with the dealers reputation, but, with the requirements of financing. Should one have the cash to purchase an automobile the dealer cannot force one to register, license, or insure said vehicle. Once paid for the vehicle is no longer the responsibility of the dealer, nor his concern, it is the buyers. This is yet another fallacy of the gun control/car registration imbroglio. Also, most of us whom obey the law register and insure our vehicles willingly, criminals do not and no control or registration scheme has ever been effective at preventing that.
5.10.2007 3:03pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
Something else comes to mind regarding registration and licensing. Registration and licensing schemes for automobiles are much less about safety than they are about revenue. The ease with which one can aquire a drivers license and the lack of requirements to aquire a vehicle registration make evident that nonsense of safety concerns. Very reminiscent of speed traps and the like.
5.10.2007 3:08pm
uh clem (mail):
EV:
To my knowledge, states that let people get concealed carry licenses generally require a fairly significant degree of testing and training... I'm sure this varies considerably from state to state, but for instance Texas requires a proficiency test and, I'm told, a 10-to-15-hour training course.


Do you think this level of regulation is unconstitutional?

It's fairly clear that it doesn't violate the Texas constitution ("Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.") but what about other states where the right is more broadly stated?

What about the US Constitution? Would finding it an individual right invalidate this kind of licensing requirement? You don't need a license to go to church or to write an article, if RTKABA is a right on that level do CC permits go the way of the poll tax?
5.10.2007 3:11pm
Windypundit (www):
If an insurance scheme was set up to pay for any injury or death from a gun (and administered fairly), it seems to me it would show how much safer guns are than cars--which gun-control advocates would not like.

A lot of homeowner's policies already cover that. Of course, if I go out and deliberately kill someone with a gun, my insurance won't cover it. That's just like my auto insurance, which won'tpay if I deliberately run someone over.
5.10.2007 3:12pm
JB:
KeithK: I eventually got a license in Massachusets. The test was so easy I thought I'd failed and he was ending it early, when in fact that's all there was.

DNL: I didn't bring it up as a logical explanation, just to say that gun control advocates come disproportionately from places where it's relatively hard to get licenses, so they're not going to think, as Eugene thinks, that the driver's license process is trivial. Thus it's incorrect but not hypocritical for a gun control advocate to suggest a tougher regime by likening guns to cars.
5.10.2007 3:12pm
scote (mail):
Clearly the idea of regulating guns like we do cars fails as analogy because there are three separate parts to owning and operating a car:

1) Ownership

2) Registration for operation on public roads

3) Licensed Operation

The regulation of guns is on a different level. With gun ownership we are concerned with access to the weapons in the first place, so all aspects of gun ownership are wrapped up into one and we can't differentiate Ownership from Operation.

Those who propose "car-like" regulation of guns are conflating the differences and cherry picking the parts of the regulation they like. The pro gun camp like to look only to the virtually unregulated aspect of who may own a car, while opponents may seize on the aspect of operator licensing which allows for the denial/revokation of operator's licenses since driving is a privilege not a right.
5.10.2007 3:17pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"no born-and-bred New Yorker would characterize getting a driver's license as anything resembling trivial. "

I second this. Having been raised in NY, I found the rural New Mexico drivers test hard!! (it consisted of driving along an empty stretch of desert road, turning and driving back)

If you want to play Urban Roulette with your life, administer the NY drivers test where you have to sit in a car on 14th street with a clueless teenager behind the wheel each week and see whether you crash into an oncoming taxi.


"If people have to sign up for a boring class -- remember driver's ed? -- and then pay some (hopefully exorbinant) fee to own a gun, the chances of purchasing a weapon for an impulse crime fall off a cliff, don't they?"

Or rather, the chances of someone intending to purchase a gun for criminal use actually purchase it legally drop off. But how many people do that anyway? The harder it is to buy something legally the more black market availability crops up. For example, has the "impulse shopping" for cocaine and heroin fallen off a cliff since they were made illegal? Or for prescription drugs that you have a "waiting period" for, while seeing a therapist -- or can those who want to "impulse buy" dexedrine, ritalin, even Viagra buy it illegally?
5.10.2007 3:18pm
oxac (mail):
Cars are heavily regulated for safety (airbags, mandatory seatbelts, etc.). Maybe someone here can comment on comparable regulations for guns?
5.10.2007 3:20pm
Windypundit (www):
My understanding that minimalist gun control which would require gun purchasers to have licenses and register their weapons are opposed by many gun contol opponents.

Some gun advocates have principled objections to even minimal controls, but for many of us it's a practical matter of not trusting the people who create and administer these laws. With good reason.

For example, if the law requires people to have a police permit to carry a gun, does the law also require the police to actually issue these permits? That seems only fair, yet gun control advocates have fought "shall issue" carry permits every time they're proposed.

These kinds of concerns are not merely theoretical. I've already mentioned the Chicago registration requirement that was turned into a handgun ban when the city simply refused to accept registrations. What about the early versions of the Brady bill in which the waiting period started whenever local law enforcement wanted it to start instead of when the gun owner and gun dealer submitted their information?

One warning sign for most gun licensing and registration schemes is that armed government employees are exempt. A cop can own and carry guns simply because he's a cop. This is different for cars, where even cops are supposed to have valid driver's licenses. If gun control laws are so minimalist, why aren't government employees required to obey them?
5.10.2007 3:33pm
Waldensian (mail):
Cars are heavily regulated for safety (airbags, mandatory seatbelts, etc.). Maybe someone here can comment on comparable regulations for guns?

Not really a good analogy. Guns, when properly used for at least one lawful purpose (self defense), are intended to be dangerous -- at least to the other guy.

Put another way, no car, not even the Corvair, was designed for the express purpose of killing people.

I suppose there are some gun technologies that are sort of like seatbelts and airbags. Various safety mechanisms have long been in use, and there have been a variety of other technologies developed, invented, and/or required by law that are intended to prevent negligent discharges of firearms or unauthorized use by children.

However, death or injury as a result of negligent discharge or unauthorized use is actually pretty rare -- it's the intentional use of guns, by criminals, to kill people that is the primary public policy concern here.
5.10.2007 3:48pm
Mark Jones (mail):
Guns are already incredibly safe to operate as long as the operator pays attention to basic safety rules.* Guns seldom cause injury to the operator as a result of mechanical failures, though accidental self-inflicted injuries sometimes occur—but those, again, come back to failure to follow the basic safety rules. They may not be safe for the target of an intentional shooting, but then they're not supposed to be.

*Treating all guns as loaded, keeping your finger off the trigger until/unless you're prepared to fire, never pointing it at anything you aren't willing to destroy, etc. Follow these rules and the chances of an accidental injury or death for _anyone_ are negligible. Deliberately employing a gun against another human being is already a felony except if used in self-defense. Negligent use opens you up to civil suit at the very least, possibly criminal charges as well.

What other regulation would be truly useful?
5.10.2007 3:49pm
rob (mail):
Can I throw in a Paris Hilton reference and still be taken seriously? Current auto regulations didn't prevent her from driving without a license, so how will "regulat[ing] guns like cars" prevent criminal use of guns?

In other words, let's turn the question around. Why regulate guns like cars? What policy objective would it accomplish?
5.10.2007 3:49pm
Gregory Morris (mail) (www):
Lawdog Files has already been here.

One thing most people who go on about this comparison don't take into account how regulated the auto manufacturing industry is. Imagine a Smith and Wesson with airbags... ok, just kidding. But there are a lot of safety requirements for manufacturing cars. I can't imagine how liberals would try to construct safety regs for gun manufacturers.
5.10.2007 3:49pm
Herman Munster (mail):
Let's see, guns are designed to kill people, whereas cars are designed to transport people safely. Yes, it clearly makes sense to have identical regulatory regimes.

If we did have identical regulatory schemes, gun manufacturers would all be out of business for product liability--guns are, by definition, at least as dangerous as a Ford Pinto.

Oh yes, I know, guns don't kill people, only people do. But if you want to kill someone, you don't go and buy a car; you buy a gun...
5.10.2007 3:53pm
Houston Lawyer:
In Texas, the costs of getting a concealed carry permit are about $300, once you pay for the license and fees for the class. The license is only good for 3 years, so you have to take a new class (only 5 hours for renewals instead of 10) every three years.

I have found the class requirement to be a significant burden. The actual shooting test has been described to me by CHL carriers as "If you can't pass it, you shouldn't own that gun."

Imagine having to sit through a five-hour class every time your driver's license is about to expire.

Also, if New York licensed drivers are allowed to drive in Texas, shouldn't Texas CHL holders be allowed to pack heat in New York.
5.10.2007 3:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Preferred Customer writes:

Second, you are minimizing the test administered for a driver's license for dramatic effect. While driving license standards in this country are woefully inadequate, they are at least ostensibly designed to demonstrate minimum proficiency with a device that, used improperly, can be deadly. It may be that "anyone can pass" these tests, but it is also true that minimum proficiency with a car is much more widespread than minimum proficiency with firearms.
Is that why car accidental deaths outnumber gun accidental deaths by at least one order of magnitude?

Yes, when you include suicides and homicides, gun deaths are just a bit below car deaths. But suicides and homicides aren't problems of "minimum profiency with firearms." Only the gun accidents could qualify on that count—and a lot of those gun accidents involve teenagers who are showing off. That's not a "minimum profiency" problem, but an immaturity problem—much like a lot of the car accidental deaths are teenagers showing off.

I don't have a pragmatic problem with requiring people to show some minimal competence with a firearm before carrying it. But it isn't at all clear that it would make any real difference. Washington State, for example, doesn't require any firearms safety training as a requirement for a concealed handgun license, and they have had a "shall-issue" law on this since 1961, and typically about 3% of the total population of the state has a permit. You would think if this was causing a gun accident problem, it would be obvious by now.

Since others in this comment thread have stated the goal of licensing is to discourage people from having a gun, why should we go along with a scheme so easily abused? Imagine if we had literacy tests to vote....
5.10.2007 3:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Herman Munster writes:

Let's see, guns are designed to kill people, whereas cars are designed to transport people safely. Yes, it clearly makes sense to have identical regulatory regimes.
That's why cars cause more deaths than guns each year--and there are similar numbers of cars and guns in the U.S.

If we did have identical regulatory schemes, gun manufacturers would all be out of business for product liability--guns are, by definition, at least as dangerous as a Ford Pinto.
Have you ever read firearms product liablity suits? There are certainly cases where gun manfacturers have screwed up, and put out unsafe designs--but the number of such suits based on products that were unsafe is pretty small. The suits for some years now have been over questions of distribution--guns that worked exactly as expected, but were in the hands of criminals.

I am always impressed how many liberals have opinions on this without any real knowledge.
5.10.2007 3:58pm
Vinnie (mail):
Lets go the other way and treat cars like guns. No automatic transitions or mufflers without permission from the head of local law enforcement, an FBI background check and a $200 tax.

Yes Vinnie wants a suppressor.
5.10.2007 3:59pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Waldensian writes:

Not really a good analogy. Guns, when properly used for at least one lawful purpose (self defense), are intended to be dangerous -- at least to the other guy.
And this is a problem? For some people, of course, it is a problem, because rapists, robbers, and murderers end up dead.

That's not the optimal solution, but the alternative is to make first offense rape, robbery, and murder into serious crimes that mean that decent people don't have to deal with these criminals on the streets.
5.10.2007 4:01pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


If an insurance scheme was set up to pay for any injury or death from a gun (and administered fairly), it seems to me it would show how much safer guns are than cars--which gun-control advocates would not like.



A lot of homeowner's policies already cover that. Of course, if I go out and deliberately kill someone with a gun, my insurance won't cover it. That's just like my auto insurance, which won'tpay if I deliberately run someone over.
When my wife and I received our CCWs in California (in itself a fascinating story), I called up my insurance agent to find out what sort of additional liability coverage we needed. None. We had licenses to carry concealed, and there was no need for any additional premium. This should not be a surprise--there are essentially no accidents by licensees carrying concealed, and intentional criminal use wouldn't be covered by any insurance policy.
5.10.2007 4:05pm
Vinnie (mail):
Well we teach drivers ed in school. We teach poison safety in kindergarten. Why don't we teach gun safety in school.
5.10.2007 4:05pm
Houston Lawyer:
Safety features are often prominent in the literature used to advertise handguns. I have based my purchases, at least in part, on a gun's decocker mechanism which allows the owner to lower the hammer without accidentally firing the gun.
5.10.2007 4:07pm
scote (mail):

Lets go the other way and treat cars like guns. No automatic transitions or mufflers without permission from the head of local law enforcement, an FBI background check and a $200 tax.

Hmmm...To really treat cars like guns you'd have take off license plates since nation gun registration searches have to be done on paper to make them harder. Oh, and you'd have to give car manufacturers immunity from lawsuits and exempt them from any safety requirements of any kind.

This thread brings up some interesting point but it seems that treating cars like guns and guns like cars are both equally untenable ideas.
5.10.2007 4:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
JB writes:

I'm from New York City, hotbed of gun control. It's really hard to get a driver's license in NYC. The test actually tests real driving skills, makes you parallel park, drive on crowded roads with all kinds of hazards...the testers are often very harsh...no born-and-bred New Yorker would characterize getting a driver's license as anything resembling trivial.
Hmmmm. This doesn't sound much harder than the driver's test I took in California in 1972. It is a pretty minimal requirement, and based on the competence of many drivers, perhaps too relaxed.

Of course, if there were a group with control over most news media calling for the eventual abolition of cars, and insisting on very stringent licensing requirements, with unlimited discretion by the local chief of police as to who would receive a license, I might not be so inclined to accept stricter licensing standards.

Oh, there's one other difference. We don't have a history of racial discrimination and corruption on issuance of driver's licenses--unlike gun licensing, which has plenty of both (doubtless why liberals like these systems for guns--hence Obama's code words about "inner cities"). And the Constitution doesn't have a guarantee of a right to own and drive automobiles.
5.10.2007 4:15pm
Carolina:


I don't know much about guns, but I do know a bit about cars, and it simply isn't true that "there are no laws regulating what types of cars private citizens may own," at least insofar as a) use on public highways or b) importation into the United States is concerned. Try importing a vehicle that doesn't comply with FMVSS 108 and see what Customs does. Federal regulation of automobiles is pervasive.


Preferred Customer, you made my point for me. I limited my comment to "ownership," and not to operation on public roads or importation.
5.10.2007 4:22pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Hmmm...To really treat cars like guns you'd have take off license plates since nation gun registration searches have to be done on paper to make them harder. Oh, and you'd have to give car manufacturers immunity from lawsuits and exempt them from any safety requirements of any kind.
Gun manufacturers are exempt from lawsuits where the gun worked as designed. And even that was only required because gun control ambulance chasers were attempting to ban gun ownership by filing lawsuits whose only analogy would be suing GM because bank robbers used a Chevrolet as a getaway vehicle.

If gun control advocates weren't pushing for gun registration as a first step towards gun confiscation (as gun control advocates have often directly acknowledged), there would not be this big fuss about gun registration.

Oh, and how many crimes (other than gun control violations) have been solved by gun registration? New York City has had handgun registration since the 1890s, and discretionary licensing of handguns since 1911. New York State has had mandatory licensing of handguns for decades. New York City has had mandatory registration of long guns for many years now. Can you give me a list of violent crimes solved with those records?

Krug's 1968 study of gun registration found that New York officials could not give a single example of a violent crime solved by gun registration since the Sullivan Law in 1911. There's several reason:

1. Unlike a license plate, you can't read the gun's serial number unless the criminal leaves it at the scene of the crime. Criminals seldom leave a gun unless they are lying on the ground.

2. Criminals seldom use lawfully purchased and registered guns to commit crimes. I'm sure it happens, but it isn't the norm.

3. The type of person that uses a gun in a criminal act is seldom a normal, law-abiding adult. They are very disproprtionately convicted felons (who can't legally own a gun), minors (who can't legally buy a gun from a dealer, and in many states, can only possess with parental consent and supervision), and psychotics (who are subject to both federal and state prohibitions that vary substantially from state to state).
5.10.2007 4:26pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Oh, and you'd have to give car manufacturers immunity from lawsuits and exempt them from any safety requirements of any kind.

This is a tiresome myth and does nothing to add credibility to gun control arguments. That you know so little about what safety/quality requirements exist also does not confer confidence that you are a reasonable voice for gun control.

Or, put another way, when you can sue Ford for being run over by a drunk driver of a stolen Chevy - then the argument that gun manufacturer liability is the same as car manufacturer liability will make sense.
5.10.2007 4:42pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Gun manufactors aren't immune to lawsuits. They can still be held liable for "damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions that they are directly responsible for." They just can't be sued just because someone used their product in an illegal manner. It's a given in situations with any other item -- you can't sue Chrysler because someone ran over your hubby intentionally -- but gun control fetishists realized that they don't need to win to drive smaller businesses out of the market.

Cars are heavily regulated for safety (airbags, mandatory seatbelts, etc.). Maybe someone here can comment on comparable regulations for guns?


Guns are a fairly proven technology. With a very small number of exclusions, it's just impossible to cause a gun to go off without pulling the trigger. If there were guns coming off the assembly line with busted sears or poor springs, this sort of regulation would make sense, but as it is, guns used according to their manuals are much, much safer than cars.
5.10.2007 4:44pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
2. Criminals seldom use lawfully purchased and registered guns to commit crimes. I'm sure it happens, but it isn't the norm.


To be precise, 90% of murders are committed by felons, who could not legally own a gun. 95% of murders are committed by those who have a criminal history including acts which could have been charged as a felony, but were not listed as such (such as in MA, where it takes 24 months served to make a felon, or they were tried as a juv).
5.10.2007 4:54pm
rarango (mail):
Re gun manufacturers and liability for defective products. I am basing the following comments on absolutely no data whatsoever, but it seems to me guns manufactured by reputable manufacturers, and loaded and fired with prescribed loads (ie not hot handloads), may be one of the safest inventions ever made in terms of safety for the operator. Does anyone know of data that catalogs handgun or rifle failures? eg, cylinders that blow up, barrels that malfunction? I am guessing mechanical safeties are perhaps the most likely thing to fail, but quite a few weapons have multiple safety features. Anyone got any stats or info?
5.10.2007 5:05pm
luagha:
I would like to elaborate on something alluded to above, about how we are conflating the many portions of car licensing and ownership and cherry-picking what we like. One person mentioned the "virtually unregulated aspect of who may own a car."

One thing that many pro-gun-owners would like is a system that removes discretion, since discretionary systems (the sherriff decides whether or not you get a permit based on whether he likes your face, your color, you're famous, you've donated to his campaign, or maybe he just doesn't give them at all) have shown themselves to be abused. The person giving you a driver's license can't fail you because of your color or because he wants to save the environment and remove drivers from the streets.
5.10.2007 5:23pm
Jeff Soyer (mail) (www):
If guns are treated like cars, then my NH CCW pistol permit should be good in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, just like my state issued drivers license is. Sorry DC and Chicago and NYC, you have to let me travel with my handgun in it's holster through your cities.
5.10.2007 5:36pm
AntonK (mail):
Also, I don't remember car ownership being a constitutional right.
5.10.2007 5:36pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
If the 2nd amendment is required to include registration and licensing, will I then ,also ,have to register and license each newspaper ,periodical, and book that I purchase or peruse ?

"One thing that many pro-gun-owners would like is a system that removes discretion,".......any right that requires "registration" and/or "licensing" to practice, isn't a right, but, a limited privledge that can be removed at the whim of an politician or tyrant. That coupled with the incidents of confiscation following registration on occasion gives the lie to those whom purport that registration is just for the "safety" of the public and the "betterment" of the community. The fact is that those in power lie, cheat, and steal and do whatever they can to accord themselves more power at the expense of our rights.
5.10.2007 6:27pm
dwlawson (www):

Hmmm...To really treat cars like guns you'd have take off license plates since nation gun registration searches have to be done on paper to make them harder. Oh, and you'd have to give car manufacturers immunity from lawsuits and exempt them from any safety requirements of any kind.


You mean if someone runs someone over with a Ford Taurus, Ford gets sued?
5.10.2007 6:28pm
Waldensian (mail):
Clayton Cramer writes:

Waldensian writes:

Not really a good analogy. Guns, when properly used for at least one lawful purpose (self defense), are intended to be dangerous -- at least to the other guy.


And this is a problem?

Of course not. Where did I say or imply that?
5.10.2007 6:30pm
Waldensian (mail):

Why don't we teach gun safety in school.

We do, in some public schools. Usually it's hunter education, but that's largely firearms safety.
5.10.2007 6:34pm
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
Our host writes: I'm sure this varies considerably from state to state, but for instance Texas requires a proficiency test and, I'm told, a 10-to-15-hour training course.

It does, and Texas is at the high end in terms of a time requirement. My own Minnesota doesn't have a time requirement, but a (fairly minimal) subject matter requirement.


(b) Basic training must include:
(1) instruction in the fundamentals of pistol use;
(2) successful completion of an actual shooting qualification exercise; and
(3) instruction in the fundamental legal aspects of pistol possession, carry, and use, including
self-defense and the restrictions on the use of deadly force.


For those with a minimal working knowledge -- or better -- of what case law and statutory law is, I think I could go through the minimal requirements on (3) in under ten minutes. (Since I'm not vaguely interested in seeing how little I can get away with, that's likely to remain a speculation.)

On the low end, PA doesn't require any training or education at all -- the process consists of getting a passport-sized photo, then walking into the local sheriff's office, filling out a form, paying a $15 fee, and waiting while the deputy on duty performs a background check, then walking out with the permit. (It can also be done by mail; I don't know any PA permit holders who haven't done it in person.)

PA permit holders seem to stay out of trouble just about as much as other permit holders do; my own conclusion is that the filter is the background check and -- probably more importantly -- the willingness to jump through a modest amount of red tape.
5.10.2007 6:39pm
KeithK (mail):

The person giving you a driver's license can't fail you because of your color or because he wants to save the environment and remove drivers from the streets.


Actually they can - there isn't really any appeal process for failing the (road) test. It's just that there's no organized movement dedicated to preventing people from driving who would encourage DMV folks from abusing their power. Well, maybe in some jurisdictions - I always heard that the Ithaca, NY driving test was much stricter than in neighboring counties in order to keep the just-off-the-boat foreign grad students from getting licenses too easily (probably a good policy, having been on the road with some of them). But it's not the same.
5.10.2007 6:45pm
Stan Morris (mail):
Just to play devil's advocate, I didn't see it post but if this is a repeat, sorry. In most states, you can be arrested for DUI while driving on your own property. I also think you can be arrested for operating a gun on your own propety while intoxicated. Both are dangerous. What say you all?
5.10.2007 7:15pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
You can often request a different driving tester, or go to a separate DMV/BMV.

On the other hand, if the Massachusetts folk decide you don't have a legitimate reason to defend yourself, or just decide that they're above the whole "applications must be accepted or refused in X days" part, there's not much you can do but move out of Massachusetts, and even then you still can't bring a gun across the borders.
5.10.2007 7:17pm
steveH (mail):
Vinnie;


Why don't we teach gun safety in school.


We used to, through used-to-be-common high school and college competitive shooting teams.

Oddly enough, anti-gun types overwhelmingly saw this as a Bad Thing(tm).
5.10.2007 7:42pm
Vinnie (mail):
Oddly enough, anti-gun types overwhelmingly saw this as a Bad Thing

Yet if I don't teach my son about poison I am a bad parent.
5.10.2007 7:50pm
steveH (mail):

Hmmm...To really treat cars like guns you'd have take off license plates since nation gun registration searches have to be done on paper to make them harder.


Well, that certainly explains why you get in so much trouble for removing the serial number from a firearm. Unlike replacing a motor vehicle license plate.


Oh, and you'd have to give car manufacturers immunity from lawsuits and exempt them from any safety requirements of any kind.


Why? Gun makers are hardly immune to suit for producing an unsafe/faulty product.

Ask someone who owns a Ruger revolver; Ruger will still, after several decades, at no cost to the owner, upgrade their older designs to a current safety spec.

Ask anyone who buys a handgun in California, for example; the which specific type can only be sold after passing certain safety requirements before it can be sold in the state.

You really ought to find out about this sort of thing before you argue for what already exists, or before you argue for reducing existing requirements.

One would think you were a pro-gun mole, or something.
5.10.2007 7:54pm
SIG357:

The value is the burden-slash-cost of the test itself! If people have to sign up for a boring class -- remember driver's ed? -- and then pay some (hopefully exorbinant) fee to own a gun, the chances of purchasing a weapon for an impulse crime fall off a cliff, don't they?


True. But all this will do is make it even more likely that criminals will steal guns. The number of people purchasing a gun in order to commit an impulse crime is vanishingly small.

To bring up a slightly off topic question, but one suggested by the topic - why do we have government registration of cars? Does it serve any useful purpose other than as a source of government revenue?
5.10.2007 8:15pm
SIG357:

To really treat cars like guns you'd have take off license plates since nation gun registration searches have to be done on paper to make them harder. Oh, and you'd have to give car manufacturers immunity from lawsuits and exempt them from any safety requirements of any kind.


Why do we have license plates on cars?

Gun manufactuers are not exempt from safety requirements of any kind. If you purchase a gun and it blows up in your hand and injures you, due to a defect in design or manufacture, you have a right to sue. A lot of the anti-gun crowd don't seem to know enough about guns and the law to be able to carry on this debate.

What you are seeking is for anyone injured by a properly functioning firearm to be able to sue the firearm manufacturer. There is no precedent for this anywhere else. If a hit-and-run driver kills somebody and the vehicle is identified as a Toyota Camery, you cannot sue Toyota. Well, you can, but the suit would not be taken seriously.
5.10.2007 8:26pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
A lot of the anti-gun crowd don't seem to know enough about guns and the law to be able to carry on this debate.


If they knew more, there wouldn't be a dfebate.
5.10.2007 9:13pm
scote (mail):
I'm much amused that people presume I'm both pro and anti gun by my statements.

In response to a suggestion that we treat cars like guns, I noted that we'd have to take license plates off cars. Posters said that was ridiculous since guns all have serial numbers that are not easily removed, which, indeed I am aware of. However, the SN on a gun is analogous to the VIN, not to the visible-from-a-distance automobile License plate. Car license plates can be read at a distance and checked against an on line database of registration data and a list of stolen cars. There is no analogous number on a gun that lets Peace Officers run a gun's SN based on discreet observation from a distance. In fact, there is no online national database they can trace a gun with even once they do get physical possession of a gun since the ATF is not allowed to compile a national on-line database. Based on these facts I proposed that cars would have to ditch license plates to enable the treat cars like guns analogy to work.

Additionally, gun manufactures are exempt from the kinds of safety regulation that cars are. Although they can be sued for defective products that injure the user accidentally, they are not subject to federal safety regulations. Guns do not have to have trigger guards, hammer-block safeties, round in chamber indicators, no-clip safeties, etc., nor are there any federal standards like the kind used by military and law enforcement for accidental discharge from dropping. While you may argue that there are some scattered and minimal state standards, cars have federal safety standards and such state standards would not be analogous.

Guns, when properly used, are designed to kill or injure.* Cars when properly used are designed to safely convey passengers and cargo. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and forks. They just aren't in the same category.


*Some would argue that guns are designed to deter violence, as well, but that is only true because the offer the threat of death or injury as a deterrent.
5.10.2007 9:13pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
I'm much amused that people presume I'm both pro and anti gun by my statements.

That's alright scote, we're amused by your ignorance and assumptions.

Why don't you try learning about the lawsuits that were at issue in the federal legislation. Hint: it had nothing to do with "trigger guards" [care to define that btw? or is it like a barrel shroud], etc. In fact, product liability for design defects* was and still is fair game. The "negligent marketing" tort theory was the main target.

As for design standards for safety, the industry adopted a set before the CPSC ever existed or seatbelts were mandated to auto-makers.

* Real defects - not the phantoms of fevered and ill informed minds.
5.10.2007 9:31pm
Just ME (mail):
This argument about gun control is outrageous. I am a gun owner and also licensed to carry concealed. I live in the state of New York and we have some of the strictest laws regarding gun control. When are people going to understand that guns don't kill people. People DO? You can place any bill and all ideas on the books into laws for gun control. All this does it makes it tougher for the citizen who complies and obey the gun laws. It does nothing for the criminals who will always have them. This country has been facing this dilemma for decades. Have we all forgot about Kent State back in the late 60's? Weapons of all kinds will be and can be obtained by the criminal. People who legally have firearms are not the threat. Yes, there have been cases of people being killed by their own guns or murdered by a gun owner. But these stats are low compared to the criminal stats. SO the idea of regulating guns like cars is absolutely ludicrous.
5.10.2007 9:44pm
Vinnie (mail):
"SO the idea of regulating guns like cars is absolutely ludicrous."

I think you missed some points. Guns are MORE regulated than cars.
5.10.2007 9:59pm
scote (mail):
@ juris_imprudent who wrote:

"trigger guards" [care to define that btw? or is it like a barrel shroud]

Trigger guards are nothing like the vague attempts to define "assault weapons" with features like barrel shrouds. That you would try to conflate the two demonstrates the speciousness of your argument. The trigger guard is one of the earliest safety features found on firearms. It is the loop of metal that surrounds the trigger and helps prevent accidental discharge. They are not required by federal law as evidenced in certain derringer designs. I'm not sure that any specific safety features are required by statute. If you indeed to claim otherwise you'll need to provide a citation rather than empty polemics.

PS
Voluntary "standards" implemented to stave off actual standards do not qualify as Federal Standards. Although there are no doubt many voluntary standards in the auto industry, there are also numerous mandatory safety requirements such as collapsable steering wheels, supplemental brake lights, grooved-tires, passive restraints, seat-belts, etc. Name the analogous Federal Safety standards for firearms. Note that auto safety standards are designed to protect not only the driver and passengers but also pedestrians by requiring certain bumper heights and prohibiting freestanding hood ornaments. There is no such analogous Federal Safety feature that protects people on the barrel end of a gun. Yet another reason why trying to suggest that guns be regulated like cars is a silly argument.

@ Vinnie who wrote:

I think you missed some points. Guns are MORE regulated than cars.


That is an equivocal statement. Guns and cars are regulated differently. While gun ownership--and the presumed right to operate that gun which comes with ownership--is regulated with waiting periods, background checks and carry restrictions, it is false to make a blanket statement that they are "more" restricted. You have to define your terms if you want to make an honest argument. You must define "more" and "regulated". This is no Clintonian dodge. It is simple fact. You can't have a meaningful discussion if you aren't talking about the same things. Your desire to oversimplify the case to make your argument seem reasonable does not succeed on the merits, capitalized argumentative emphasis notwithstanding.

If you want to talk about sheer volume of regulations, including CAFE standards, safety standards, emissions standards, warranty standards and a whole host of other Federal and local laws and regulations then cars are **far** more regulated than guns. If you want to talk about which is more "restricted" in terms of purchase, storage and right to have with you, clearly cars would seem less restricted. But to register a car--a requirement to use it in public--you have to have proof of insurance. And to use it you have to pass a competence test. In this sense, cars are more regulated than guns (depending on which locality you live in). If you aren't willing to discuss the details, I'd have to question the sincerity of your argument.
5.10.2007 10:41pm
Vinnie (mail):
If I could write well I would be a LOT wealthier. But instead of detailing how many of what kind of regulations by what agency, lets look at the practical aspects. I think most of them have been mentioned above. But here are a few:
I can buy a car on e-bay.
I can buy a car in another state.
I can drive in any state. (Or DC for that matter)
I can buy an SUV.
I can buy a bus.
I can modify my car to go faster and not get my door kicked in by swat.
I can build my own car.
Those are a few.
While I am one of those purist who think "shall not be infringed" is pretty clear. I would welcome the loosening of gun laws to match my freedom with my car.
5.10.2007 11:25pm
scote (mail):
@ Vinnie:

I think those are some good points.

Part of the problem with this thread is that car ownership doesn't imply the right to use it the way gun ownership does. This makes the comparison of rules and regs more complicated. However, your mentions about interstate transfer, home builds and user modifications are good ones. There are limits, of course, especially if you want to actually drive your car on public roads but these limits are less onerous if you have the luxury of private property.

One of the biggest differences between gun and car regulation is the dramatic patchwork of gun laws. On one square foot of remote land your are allowed to concealed carry, but cross a literally invisible line into the next square foot of land and you are liable for multiple felonies with jail time, loss of franchise and a permanent felony record. That sort of schizophrenia is rather hard to fathom given 2nd amendment guarantees...
5.10.2007 11:43pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Every handgun must be sold with a trigger lock. Guns with a caliber higher than 0.50 inches require a hefty tax, background check, and police chief permission. Modifications to guns are heavily limited. Guns must be made so that they can not be 'readily converted' into automatics, intentionally or unintentionally. Producing your own gun is highly regulated. Types of guns that are considered 'destructive' have been . Specific serial number requirements must be met. Guns must be made to fit specific 'sporting use' requirements, which despite the simplicity of the law's wording can range from components built in specific locations to more eccentric limitations.

It ain't CAFE, but it's damned close.

I'd consider a competence test with infinite tries, language interpreters, subsidized costs (the road test itself costs literally nothing but time in many areas), and with stereotypically lax testers far less rigorous than a NICS background check and federal forms where it is quite easy to violate the law in a way an average police officer or even many judges would not have known.

To make it more clear, there are a total of 300 million guns spread across 60 million gun owners, the typical annual accidental shooting death rate tends to range between 600-1500, leading to a high of around 1 death for every 200,000 guns owned or 1 death for every 40,000 gun owners.

By comparison, according to 2004, there are 243,023,485 registered cars in the United States, and an estimated 203,000,000 car owners. The annual accidental death rate by cars in 2004 was 42,836 (which isn't even a high). That's 1 death for every 5,674 cars owned, or 1 death for every 4,739 car owners.

If safety from accidents or malfunctions is the actual justification for gun regulation, we sure as hell don't want to follow the lead of car regulation.
5.10.2007 11:56pm
Jack Burton:
Reposted with Copyright notice. Copyright 2000 by Ron Miller. All Rights Reserved.

IF GUNS WERE TREATED LIKE CARS :

1. You could get a simple license from the State for a nominal fee and only have to take a test that any idiot could pass. You'd only have to renew it every 10 years for 40 years and maybe retake the test if you move out of state.

2. You could kill and injure people with your gun while drunk and still have your lawyer get your gun back because you need it for work.

3. You'd have half the tax burden of the county and State dedicated to improving the shooting ranges and facilities. The public agrees this is never good enough to suit them and with all the gunowners from California moving in, the range capacity will never catch up. Lines at the range are always shown on TV with the newsies deploring the crowding.

4. You could carry in any State at any time because carry and possession of your gun is honored nationwide and is considered a basic American civil right.

5. You would see commercials on TV pushing the newest, latest guns which you could lease for just $25 per month subject to the fine print.

6. You could finance a fancier gun than you can really afford by taking a 5 year loan with approved credit.

7. You would have a gun safe built into every house. In the upscale houses you would have 3 gun safes. Inexpensive houses and mobile homes would just have a gunrack by the door.

8. You'd have gun storage lockers at the shopping mall in which to store your rifle while shopping. This in order to free your arms for packages. The convenience of the shopper is paramount.

9. You could buy ammunition at the 7-11. Full-service station means they'll reload your magazines for you.

10 The news would stop reporting gun accidents unless more than 10 children were killed at one time. Onesy-twosey would only be notable in small towns or if Princess Di's bodyguard shot her while aiming at paparazzi.

11 If the price of ammunition rose 20% the Federal Government would release war reserves of ammo to bring the price back down to the consumer's comfort level.

Ammo would carry a 50% tax to finance public shooting ranges.

The Teapot Dome scandal would have been about a lead mine.

12 We'd teach gunsmithing in vocational-education programs.

13 Every 16 year old would be looking forward to the day when he could take the family revolver to school. The rich kids would get a high capacity semi-auto pistol on their 16th birthday and endanger everyone when they learn to use it in public.

14 High schools would have large gun lockers to store student's arms while they attend classes. Administrators would try to charge for the service to discourage teen-age gun carrying to school.

15 Schools would have shooter's education classes to make sure the kids could pass the test. They would show gory films of gunshot wounds. The squeamish would throw up.

16 Old people who can hardly see would still be permitted to shoot in public because to disarm them would be to damage their self-esteem. Families would wring their hands over holes in the walls and ceiling.

Occasionally an oldster would fire into a schoolyard when they mistake the trigger for the safety. Legislators would refrain from criticizing because of the AARP's influence.

17 Congress would be debating alternative weapons systems for people who can't afford their own guns.

18 There would be such a thing as "public weapons" for the masses.

19 Congress would be subsidizing weapons for people too limited in means to afford their own.

20 Congress would be willing to float a loan to Colt's in order to ensure the survival of an American company against unfair foreign competition. (Think "Chrysler")

21 We, except for Ralph Nader, would dismiss 40,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries per year as "the price of freedom."

22 You would have MADS. Mothers Against Drunk Shooters (instead of HCI). MADS would conduct a campaign of public education instead of trying to use the force of government to prohibit irresponsible drinking and shooting.

23 You could rent a gun at any airport if you are over 25 and have a credit card.

24 You would have the fringe-greenies advocating bows and arrows because they think gunsmoke is damaging the environment.

Al Gore would write a book about the damaging effects of gunsmoke.

Al Gore would also claim to have been a handloader before his sister died in a powder fire.

25 You'd have huge outcry in the Press and Congress over our dependence on cheap, imported, foreign ammunition.

26 Ted Kennedy would have shot Mary Jo Kopekne instead. Ted would be a few thousand dollars richer (bullet:$0.25 vs car:$3000)

Ted would stop carrying his own gun and instead, hire bodyguards to carry fully-automatic weapons under their coats for him.

27 You'd have businesses like "Jiffy Gun-Clean" to make life convenient. But you'd always worry that they might not have gotten the magazine fully seated afterwards.

28 You'd have "Classic Gun Events" with parades on public roads as everyone with such a classic carries it for all the public to see.

29 You'd have huge eyesores where piles of guns are left to rust in the open at "Gun Junk Yards". They would charge you outrageous prices to go out back and pick off a hammer or sear which is probably also worn out like the one you want to replace.

30 There would be a booming business and debate about substituting non-OEM parts in the gun repair business.

31 You'd have TV news crews going under cover with hidden cameras to ferret out "unscrupulous gun smiths." This story would be "old reliable" and works every year.

32 The Japanese would be trying, and succeeding, at taking over the market for efficient, reliable high-quality guns.

The Koreans would be trying to sneak in at the low end of the market.

The Germans would be selling premium brands based on better workmanship, longer life, and brand cachet. But their guns would require you to take it to a gunsmith every 3 months for a complete tear-down and dimensional inspection at outrageous labor rates.

The Italians would paint their guns flaming red and they would have a reputation for being finicky.

The State Department would be applying pressure to get Japan to allow more US-built guns into their country.

The Japanese would resist the US by saying that Japanese shooters have extra-special safety requirements that only Japanese manufacturers can meet.

33 You'd have an entire section of the Saturday Coloradoan devoted to ads for new and used guns.

34 You'd have a pair of fun-loving gunsmiths on Public Radio doing a show on gun problems. They'd be named "Tap &Rack"

35 There would have been a terrible TV show back in the black &white days named "My Mother - The Gun". It starred Jerry Van Dyke and ran just one season.

36 Dean Jones would have made a series of stupid movies starring Herbie the Love-Gun. Herbie was an adorable anthropomorphized cheap German Saturday Night Special. Dean Jones would never show his face in public again after these movies.

37 Competition would be carried on TV all day on Saturdays. The Daytona 500 would be round-count instead of miles. There would be speed contests, endurance contests, and off-range marksmanship events.

NASGUN would create big heroes in the South and extravagant marketing opportunities.

38 High-schools would paint up a gun in the colors of the opposition and charge $.25 for you to swing a sledge hammer at that gun during pep rallys.

39 John Elway would own half the gunstores in the Denver Metro area.

40 Wellington Webb's wife would be carrying the finest English Double shotgun money can buy while Wellington has body guards to carry his semi-auto pistols for him.

41 Back in the 1970's during the ammo crisis, Congress would have set a maximum cyclic rate for autos and semi autos in order to conserve ammo.

42 After Iraq was pushed out of Kuwait, the national cyclic rate was raised to something all semi-autos can be comfortable with.

43 The Coloradoan would be publishing the locations of range repair work every week to be sure no one would be inconvenienced.

44 The Beach Boys would have released some songs about guns:

"Spring little Cobray gettin' ready to strike..... Spring little Cobray with all your might....."

"She's real fine my Wonder Nine, she's real fine my Won-der Nine."

"Fun, fun, fun 'til Daddy takes her Kel-Tec away......"

45 Letters to editors would be written decrying that all those Soccer Moms are lugging .50 cal machine guns around town, wasting ammo and getting in everybody's way.

46 Letters to editors would be written responding that putting one's beginning driver son or daughter behind a .50 cal would mean that the writer's offspring would survive any conflict with lesser armed individuals.

47 Al Gore would claim he invented the .50cal cartridge and say he was sorry.

48 Cities would be experimenting with electric guns but would be surprised to find that people would step in front of them at the range because they were too quiet so no one knew the electric gun was there.

49 President Clinton would demand that electric gun manufacturers put a cowbell on each one to prevent senseless accidents.

50 The National Rifle Association would be reduced to selling travel insurance for your guns because the rest of society will have seen to it that there would be no chance that firearms would ever be banned.
5.11.2007 1:12am
scote (mail):

If safety from accidents or malfunctions is the actual justification for gun regulation, we sure as hell don't want to follow the lead of car regulation.


Not analogous. Very few of those guns are carried on any given day and those that are carried are more like parked cars than cars being driven. Trying to argue that guns are safer than cars based on the number of guns extant rather than the actual use of cars is a disingenuous comparison--especially since many gun rights advocates are anti regulation in general, including Federal automotive safety regulations and Highway Safety regulations.
5.11.2007 3:10am
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Very few of those guns are carried on any given day and those that are carried are more like parked cars than cars being driven.


And the vast amount of regulation as to where and when a gun can be owned has no relation to this?

Riiiiiiiiight.
5.11.2007 8:44am
geekWithA.45 (mail) (www):
"To regulate guns like cars" is always the wrong comparison.

"To regulate your vote like guns" is the correct one.

Details are too long to post here, so here's the link
5.11.2007 11:11am
big dirigible (mail) (www):
"Although they can be sued for defective products that injure the user accidentally, they are not subject to federal safety regulations."

This is spectacularly wrong, and has been since at least 1968. Poorly-conceived and ineptly drafted Federal regulations on safeties were part of the Gun Control Act. Others have been tacked on since.

The fact that not all conceivable "safety" innovations are required by Federal mandate does not mean that none are. Obviously.
5.11.2007 11:12am
big dirigible (mail) (www):
"But instead of detailing how many of what kind of regulations by what agency, lets look at the practical aspects. I think most of them have been mentioned above. But here are a few:
...
I can build my own car."

You can build your own gun. If you're building it specifically for sale, you need to be licensed as a manufacturer, but if you're building it for yourself there's no extra licensing involved. What counts as "building" has been defined by BATF in various semi-mysterious ways, but most anyone with a basement workshop can do it perfectly legally.

Basically you can make any gun which it's legal for you to own. But you can't build a machine gun, as per the 1986 Firearms Owner's Protection Act. And there are some fairly obscure regs against converting rifles to pistols by rebarrelling and restocking.
5.11.2007 11:20am
Fen:
I'd like to express my views on this, but I haven't renewed my free speech license, my 1st Ammendment registration, or completed the tests re hate-speech.
5.11.2007 11:31am
scote (mail):

"Although they can be sued for defective products that injure the user accidentally, they are not subject to federal safety regulations."

This is spectacularly wrong, and has been since at least 1968. Poorly-conceived and ineptly drafted Federal regulations on safeties were part of the Gun Control Act. Others have been tacked on since


Spectacularly wrong? Your point is "spectaularly" overstated. While the statement is subject to possible refutation and may be partially flawed, it is most certainly not spectacularly wrong. I remain un-convinced that it is wrong at all. Certainly firearms are not subject to anything remotely resembling the number of safety regulations which apply to cars.

Here is the law you cited:
http://www.atf.gov/pub/fire-explo_pub/gca.htm

Cursory word searches for "safe" "safety" "manufacturer" all came up empty for Federal safety regulations regarding gun manufacturing. If you'd like to quote the regs you are referring to you'd have a better point, if any.
5.11.2007 1:11pm
Vinnie (mail):
"Cursory word searches for "safe" "safety" "manufacturer" all came up empty"
The law is whatever the BATFE says it is. They seem to get away with making it up as they go. Atkins accelerator comes to mind.

As for building cars and guns: I can build the same cars the police have.
5.11.2007 1:47pm
dwlawson (www):

On the low end, PA doesn't require any training or education at all -- the process consists of getting a passport-sized photo, then walking into the local sheriff's office, filling out a form, paying a $15 fee, and waiting while the deputy on duty performs a background check, then walking out with the permit. (It can also be done by mail; I don't know any PA permit holders who haven't done it in person.)


I'm sure you mean PA resident permit holders. I'm a resident of Chicago and mailed off for a PA permit. I now have a permit to carry recognized by 18 states (not my own state, however). Also, as a resident of Chicago, I can't even possess a weapons suitable to carry.

Yes, it is an excerise in futility...but that describes most of what we do in Chicago.
5.11.2007 1:51pm
scote (mail):

As for building cars and guns: I can build the same cars the police have.


Actually, Vinnie, you can't--at least not in the practical sense. In California you may not operate a car red or blue lights, sirens or the distinctive California Highway Patrol black and white paint scheme.
5.11.2007 2:15pm
markm (mail):
The biggest difference: If cars were regulated like guns, the laws would have been written by legislators who never drove a car and didn't know a pickup truck from a semi truck. There would be Senators who stepped out of their government-provided chauffered limo to proclaim that ordinary people had no need to drive a 3500 pound projectile at 70mph. They would be advocated reinstating the "street racer" ban on cars over 4 cylinders.
5.11.2007 2:48pm
scote (mail):

There would be Senators who stepped out of their government-provided chauffered limo to proclaim that ordinary people had no need to drive a 3500 pound projectile at 70mph. They would be advocated reinstating the "street racer" ban on cars over 4 cylinders.

...and possesing more than one car or more than a gallon of gas would be called a "cache."
5.11.2007 2:50pm
SteveA (mail):
Several commentators have said versions of the following:

"Guns are designed to kill or injure."

Please take a look at this Morini, which is a "gun" by any definition, and reconsider the statement above.

There isn't a single gun on Morini's website that is "designed to kill or injure". There are whole sections of the Anschutz catalog for which one could say the same. Beware of over-generalization.
5.11.2007 4:12pm
scote (mail):

Please take a look at this Morini, which is a "gun" by any definition, and reconsider the statement above.


What you have provided is a fine example of an exception to the rule. However, it is clearly the exception. I'll retract my statement and replace it with "Guns are generally designed to kill or injure." I don't think such a modification affects the rest of my argument.

Unfortunately, the NRA has vastly reduced its support for target shooting, especially off handed .22 target shooting, instead concentrating on hunting and defense issues. I think that strong support of target shooting sports would help create a more compelling and more complete picture of the utility of guns in the US. The NRA disagrees. Part of the problem is that when you tout target shooting as an example of responsible gun use, politicians are prone to saying "Fine, lets eliminate all the non target shooting guns." This, I think, is part of the reason the NRA's support of target shooting has waned. But I also think that is a mistake.
5.11.2007 4:27pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I think that strong support of target shooting sports would help create a more compelling and more complete picture of the utility of guns in the US. The NRA disagrees. Part of the problem is that when you tout target shooting as an example of responsible gun use, politicians are prone to saying "Fine, lets eliminate all the non target shooting guns." This, I think, is part of the reason the NRA's support of target shooting has waned. But I also think that is a mistake.
Hey, target shooting can be fun. But the Second Amendment didn't protect the right to keep and bear arms because entertainment is a basic human right. The right to defend oneself from criminals (whether private or governmental) is a basic human right.

I'm reading Christopher R. Browning's Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland at the moment. An interesting aspect of this is how effectively the Jews were disarmed, making resistance efffectively impossible. One Jew attempted to defend himself with a syringe (presumably loaded with something poisonous). That's the only example of "armed resistance" I've found so far.

Now, there's a lot of gun control advocates who insist that arming the Jews would have just made things worse. (Yeah, for the Germans. It is hard to see how it could have been worse for the Jews.) These Einsatzgruppen actions were done at close range, with the Jews outnumbering their killers quite substantially. Especially after the first couple of weeks in each district, everyone knew that when German soldiers showed up, it wasn't to hand out candy and cigarettes.

Another point: there were some members of Reserve Police Battalion 101 who flat out refused to murder Jews. They were subject to all sorts of nasty insults by their comrades, but none were punished for it. A number of others looked for ways to avoid doing so, or offered to perform assignments such as cordoning off the town, rather than play an active role in murdering civilians. There was, of course, no punishment for this, because just about everyone involved knew that they were doing something that was wrong.

Do you suppose the prospect of getting shot might have moved a fair number of German soldiers from the, "I'm not comfortable murdering people" category to the "I won't do it" box?
5.11.2007 5:06pm
scote (mail):
There are no basic human rights that everyone agrees on. Not even food and shelter.

To argue that the right to bear arms is a basic human right is ridiculous. Your rhetorical trick of couching that right in the "right to defend oneself" has no limits to the type of techniques, traps, arms and what not that you may try and argue in favor of based on this over-broad generalization.

I think you'll have a better case arguing the second amendment. I don't think any court is going to buy your "gun ownership as basic human right" bs. If it was true, we'd have to give prisoners, POWs and Enemy Combatants guns since you can't deny prisoners "basic human rights." Your rhetorical device gets you into more trouble that it gets you out of.
5.11.2007 6:50pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
They [trigger guards] are not required by federal law as evidenced in certain derringer designs. I'm not sure that any specific safety features are required by statute.

OK, jokes on me, I didn't expect you to discuss something that has been a common design practice for over 150 years. Funny how that came about without statute or federal regulation. But that certainly doesn't support the notion that guns are not sufficiently safe just because the CPSC hasn't had their say - which seemed to be the direction you were going.

Voluntary "standards" implemented to stave off actual standards do not qualify as Federal Standards.

So? Asbestos was once a commonly applied Federal Standard - shall we debate the efficacy of that? If you can't make a cogent statement for a safety feature not voluntarily offered then what the hell are you arguing about? Are you upset that we haven't employed the maximum number of bureaucrats?

There is no such analogous Federal Safety feature that protects people on the barrel end of a gun. Yet another reason why trying to suggest that guns be regulated like cars is a silly argument.

Of all automobile regulations, safety ones are the most recent vintage - long after registration and licensing, the core of the comparison. Congratulations on building up an irrelevant side argument.
5.11.2007 9:20pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
If it was true, we'd have to give prisoners, POWs and Enemy Combatants guns since you can't deny prisoners "basic human rights."

Prisoners are deprived of virtually all of their rights, just not without due process of law. Treatment of POWs is governed by treaty. ECs are the problem since this Administration won't treat them as one of the other two.

Now, if you want to say I am only talking about their civil rights, under the U.S. Constitution, fine. You're correct that there is no universal agreement on "human" rights. There probably never will be and that is really, again, irrelevant.
5.11.2007 9:27pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Scote writes:


I think you'll have a better case arguing the second amendment. I don't think any court is going to buy your "gun ownership as basic human right" bs. If it was true, we'd have to give prisoners, POWs and Enemy Combatants guns since you can't deny prisoners "basic human rights." Your rhetorical device gets you into more trouble that it gets you out of.
Freedom of speech is generally considered a basic human right. Ditto for freedom to travel. Yet we routinely deny both of those to people sitting in jail awaiting trial. State v. Buzzard (Ark. 1842) tried your same little rhetorical strategy to deny that there was a right to keep and bear arms, by holding that because we can disarm prisoners, that this means that can disarm everyone.
5.12.2007 11:19am
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
dwlawson -- actually, I meant what I said, that I didn't know any PA permit holders who had applied by mail, not that I didn't know of any such. (No offense taken or meant.)

That said, I guess I can't say that anymore, because now I kinda sort know you. (You might think about getting a UT permit, btw; while it won't help you out in Chicago, it's good in more than two dozen states, and fairly modestly priced.)

Clayton Cramer: yup. Given relatively recent history, it amazes me that there are a signficant number of Jews who think that Jews being disarmed makes any sense at all. (In fact, I'm pretty sure it's a majority that's, well, crazy on this issue. In my entire extended family, there are only a tiny handful of us who are pro-self-defense, excluding the Israelis.)
5.12.2007 1:39pm