2nd Amendment

Why Don’t We Regulate Guns Like We Do Cars?

Yes, you read the head­line cor­rect­ly. When folks get to talk­ing about the 2nd Amend­ment and gun con­trol, this trope is bound to show up:

“Why don’t we reg­u­late guns the way we do cars? You know, require insur­ance and dri­ving tests and emis­sion stan­dards and make seat­belts manda­to­ry and require anti-lock brakes and airbags and so on?”

Fair ques­tion.

So! Why don’t we reg­u­late guns like we do cars? There’s actu­al­ly a very good, although bor­ing, answer[1]Pur­chas­ing, dri­ving, or man­u­fac­tur­ing motor vehi­cles all fall under the Constitution’s Com­merce Clause (Arti­cle I, Sec­tion 8), which gives Con­gress the free­dom to reg­u­late, tax, and micro­man­age … Con­tin­ue read­ing for that ques­tion; which you can read if you like being bored. But for­get that noise. Let’s get to the fun stuff:

I’ve always thought it would be a lot more fun if cars were reg­u­lat­ed like guns:

  • When the Con­sti­tu­tion was writ­ten, trans­porta­tion was lim­it­ed to walk­ing, rid­ing hors­es, horse-drawn car­riages, and wind-dri­ven ships. Lemme be gen­er­ous and add rick­shaws. There­fore, bicy­cles, motor­cy­cles, cars, lim­ou­sines, mini­vans, SUVs, trucks, trains, motor­ized boats or ships, fixed-wing air­craft, heli­copters, and rock­ets? Illegal.
  • Muf­flers and emis­sion con­trols? Ille­gal, because peo­ple could­n’t hear get­away cars.[2]Way too many Con­gress­crit­ters sup­port bans on sup­pres­sors; oth­er­wise if someone’s shoot­ing at you, you won’t know where it’s com­ing from if the shooter’s gun has a sup­pres­sor. … Con­tin­ue read­ing
  • “Mil­i­tary-style” fea­tures like 4WD, off-road tires, GPS, winch­es, camo paint, AC, car­bon-fiber or com­pos­ite parts, mat­te-black trim pieces and so on would be illegal.
  • New cars would ship with 1‑gallon gas tanks, because it would be eas­i­er to catch bad guys if they have to stop every 10 miles to fill up again.[3]Stem­ming from the ludi­crous argu­ment that if a mass shoot­er has to stop and reload every 10 rounds, it gives peo­ple a chance to tack­le the shoot­er. The Pulse night­club shoot­er, for instance, wan­dered … Con­tin­ue read­ing
  • Besides, if you can’t dri­ve wher­ev­er it is you’re going with 1 gal­lon if gas, you’re a lousy dri­ver.[4]As in “If you can’t kill a deer or moose or wilde­beest or bison with three bul­lets, you’re a lousy hunter.”
  • You’d have to remove the stock gas tank from cars shipped in from oth­er states for the same rea­son.[5]In Col­orado, for instance, it’s ille­gal to sell guns with mag­a­zines hold­ing more than 10 rounds, even though most semi-auto­mat­ic rifles ship with 30-round mag­a­zines. Which in turn means … Con­tin­ue read­ing
  • Which reminds me: If you want to shop for a car online, or buy mail-order car parts, or paint, or trim, or acces­sories? Tough shit, because it’s ille­gal. You’ll just have to walk 90 miles to the near­est factory.
  • If you buy a car you’d have to pay for it, then wait up to 30 days to actu­al­ly dri­ve it home. Because if you’re buy­ing a car because you want to run peo­ple over with it, wait­ing might help you change your mind. Too bad if you just need a car for the 99.9999999999999% of oth­er legit­i­mate rea­sons you might need a car.
  • If you already own a car, but for any rea­son you need to buy anoth­er one, tough shit. Because no one needs more than one car.
  • If, after your arbi­trary wait­ing peri­od, you final­ly go get your car, but it breaks down or gets stolen or totaled? Sucks to be you, because even if you can get per­mis­sion to buy anoth­er car while you still hold the title on a car you can’t dri­ve (Spoil­er alert: You won’t), you have to wait anoth­er month to go buy a new one. Too bad if you have a job or you need to get to your col­lege class­es or you live more than a quar­ter mile away from the near­est post office or gro­cery store.
  • If you dri­ve while you’re intox­i­cat­ed and run over some­one, the vic­tim’s fam­i­ly could sue not only you, but also the car’s man­u­fac­tur­er, any gas sta­tion or auto parts store you ever vis­it­ed, your dri­ver’s ed teacher, your school dis­trict and your par­ents for cre­at­ing you in the first place.
  • If you were dri­ving, say, a Toy­ota Cam­ry dur­ing your DUI, or you’re a con­fused elder­ly dri­ver and you plowed your Toy­ota Cam­ry into a farmer’s mar­ket, the gov­ern­ment would be able to out­law Toy­ota Cam­rys. Not because Toy­ota Cam­rys are the best-sell­ing car in the US; not because there’s a mal­func­tion in Cam­rys that sud­den­ly dis­able its steer­ing or brakes.
  • If some­one bor­rows or buys or steals your car, and then runs over some­one or gets a DUI or a speed­ing tick­et or what­ev­er, the vic­tim’s fam­i­ly can sue you, or the cops can arrest you, or if you hap­pen to own anoth­er car or motor­cy­cle or bicy­cle or Seg­way or roller skate or a pogo stick, they can con­fis­cate all of them. Even if you took all required/possible precautions.
  • What if you’re a col­lege employ­ee or pro­fes­sor or stu­dent? Sor­ry! You can’t get with­in 1,350 feet of the cam­pus with your car, even if you have to walk 2 miles to get to your class.
  • What if you own an old, com­plete­ly non-func­tion­al, or worth­less car, your city or state gov­ern­ment will cheer­ful­ly pay you top dol­lar for it so you can go buy a nice new car on the tax­pay­ers’ dime.
  • If your car is just old­er, but still runs okay, and you just got a new­er car and would be hap­py to sell it cheap, or even give it away, to a col­lege stu­dent or sin­gle par­ent, or any­one else who might be in need, or even one of your own chil­dren? Fuged­d­a­bou­dit. Uncle Sam does­n’t approve. No car for your needy friend or child. Neen­er neener.

Ref­er­ences

Ref­er­ences
1 Pur­chas­ing, dri­ving, or man­u­fac­tur­ing motor vehi­cles all fall under the Constitution’s Com­merce Clause (Arti­cle I, Sec­tion 8), which gives Con­gress the free­dom to reg­u­late, tax, and micro­man­age the everlovin’ shit out of any­thing to do with inter­state or inter­na­tion­al com­merce. And they do. But the right to bear arms is an enu­mer­at­ed right pro­tect­ed by the 2nd Amendment—the sec­ond one ever enu­mer­at­ed, right after the 1st Amend­ment. Which means the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment can’t screw around at will with it, along with any of the Constitution’s oth­er 26 amend­ments, for which we should all be grateful.
2 Way too many Con­gress­crit­ters sup­port bans on sup­pres­sors; oth­er­wise if someone’s shoot­ing at you, you won’t know where it’s com­ing from if the shooter’s gun has a sup­pres­sor. No, really.
3 Stem­ming from the ludi­crous argu­ment that if a mass shoot­er has to stop and reload every 10 rounds, it gives peo­ple a chance to tack­le the shoot­er. The Pulse night­club shoot­er, for instance, wan­dered around inside the night­club for 45 min­utes, stop­ping to reload, go to the bath­room, text mes­sage friends, and post stuff online. Numer­ous peo­ple still in the build­ing did not, repeat NOT, leap out of hid­ing and tack­le him.
4 As in “If you can’t kill a deer or moose or wilde­beest or bison with three bul­lets, you’re a lousy hunter.”
5 In Col­orado, for instance, it’s ille­gal to sell guns with mag­a­zines hold­ing more than 10 rounds, even though most semi-auto­mat­ic rifles ship with 30-round mag­a­zines. Which in turn means pur­chasers have to buy an inop­er­a­ble rifle, then go online and order a 10-round mag­a­zine. Or bet­ter yet: Order a 30-round mag­a­zine from any one of hun­dreds of online deal­ers, because Col­orado hasn’t fig­ured out a way to make it impos­si­ble to order stuff online from mer­chants who aren’t in Colorado. 

Duncan Coltrane

Duncan Coltrane is our resident expert on all things that go bang. Duncan's an enthusiastic 2nd Amendment advocate, but he also supports gun control (by using both hands) and background checks (carefully check the background behind your target: You don't want to get blood on your carpet or your nice new sofa).
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