Cars vs. Guns

Updated: Dec 6, 2015 based on feedback from Eli Bowen

I have to laugh every time I hear anti-gun people use the need to register cars as a reason to register all guns. First, let’s be clear. Cars are not guns, and guns are not cars.

They like to point out that if we have to jump over so many hurdles to drive, we should also have to jump over at least that many hurdles to purchase a gun.

First, let’s address the obvious. Criminals don’t register guns. Criminals can buy guns through black and grey market sources and borrow them from their criminal brethren. Criminals are able to get guns even in countries where guns have been completely banned, such as the UK and Australia. The laws do not apply to criminals.

Compared to cars, this is a non-starter, as criminals can still legally purchase a car and get a driver’s license even though they have been convicted of serious crimes. Even if a criminal needs a car and can’t afford one, it is very easy to borrow one from a friend or family member without any legal issues. Heck, a friend or family member can give a car to criminal without any legal repercussions.

However, let’s look at what is so different:

  • Drivers to not have to be a US Citizen or Green Card holder to buy a car.
  • Drivers do not have to re-qualify for a license every time they buy a car.
  • Drivers do not have to take a new test or be cleared by a Government agency before they are given a car by a friend or family member.
  • Drivers (assuming they have a driver’s license) do not have to take a test or be cleared by a Government agency before they are allowed to rent or borrow a car.
  • Car owners do not have to get permission from the Government to sell a car or loan a car. The buyer may need to file some paperwork, but the sale won’t be denied because the buyer doesn’t have a license or has a criminal background.
  • When selling a car, the buyer is responsible for registration and paying the sales tax. The private seller doesn’t have to do anything other than fill out their side of the paperwork when selling, and they don’t even have to verify if the person buying the car has a driver’s license.
  • A car is not treated as a completely different type of car just because it has a spoiler on it, or low profile tires, or a loud muffler.
  • A person can own a car without having a driver’s license.
  • A person can own a car while serving time in prison.
  • Car owners do not have to have a special license or pass a background check if they want to buy gas, put on a different muffler, paint the car, or even swap out the engine for something more powerful.
  • There are no limits on cars that are allowed based on how fast they are, how many passengers they hold, how much cargo they can haul, or how much gas they can hold. [Revised a bit more, here] OK, there is a point when it becomes a commercial vehicle and requires a special license, but there is no difference between a super small eco-box and a super large SUV or cargo van. Even many moving vans do not require anything beyond a standard driver’s license.
  • A driver’s license issued in one State is valid all over the United States.
  • Most importantly, the laws requiring a license only apply to cars used on public roads. Race cars are not required to meet these requirements, nor are the drivers. This is also true of farm vehicles and others that are only used on private property. There is no requirement to register them nor to have licensed drivers. Thanks, Ryan Hurey for that insight.

Gun owners, though, have different requirements:

  • They are required to go through a background check every time they buy a gun from a dealer. This applies to all dealers at gun shows and for online purchases, too. [Eli, it is a Federal law for dealers]
  • They are required to go through a background check even if they already own guns.
  • They are required to go through a background check even if they have a conceal carry permit (in almost all States).
  • They need to check the laws of each State, and even cities and local counties, when traveling with guns to see if they are allowed, and how they are allowed to travel with them.
  • They need to pay special taxes based on sizes of some guns and how much sound they make.
  • They have to notify special Government agencies when traveling with some guns.

To top it off, we see legislation that would require the following:

  • They need to take the gun, along with the buyer, to a retailer that can perform a background check for them and then pay a fee to that dealer when selling a gun to a private party.
  • They have to get approval from a Government agency if they want to give a gun to a family member, even if that family member already has a gun or a conceal carry permit.
  • They would have limits to how many rounds a magazine can hold, because, you know, politicians know what we need to defend ourselves against evil doers way better than any of us gun owners.
  • They would have limits to being able to even remove a magazine from a gun without using a special device.
  • They would require background checks for buying bullets.
  • Loaning a gun at a range to a friend or family member would require a background check.
  • They would ban certain weapons because of how they look, and not even closely based on the fire power of the weapon.
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