Why Are Drivers Given More Freedom Than Gun Owners?

posted on July 3, 2021

I occasionally hear “reasonable” gun-control advocates arguing that they just want guns regulated the same as cars; they add that no one thinks car control is unreasonable—registration, driver’s licenses, and mandatory insurance.

Even ignoring that there is no constitutional provision guaranteeing a right to own and drive a car, my response to this is: “Gun owners would mostly love that.”

As they fall back a step, I explain that I do not need to have license plates on my car on private property, nor do I need a driver’s license to operate it there. There is no background check to buy a car. I do not even need a driver’s license to buy a car. I can sell a car to anyone that wants to buy it. I do not need to go to a licensed car dealer. My driver’s license is recognized in every state and even in Canadian provinces. If I want to buy a car from a dealer in Chicago, I can fly there, buy the car and drive home.

Even age restrictions on purchasing a car are virtually nonexistent compared to purchasing a firearm. For cars, the age of the owner or purchaser only really comes into play when the car needs to be titled and insured. From a legal standpoint, a 12-year-old could, theoretically, purchase a car and operate it on private property (with the property owner’s permission, of course) without running afoul of the laws of most, if not all, states.                   

I used to own a 2000 Corvette. It was capable of going 155 mph (although I never drove it that fast, as this is a serious crime in every state). Yet, it was legal for me to drive it into any state.

If I fly anywhere in the U.S., I can rent a car with a driver’s license, proof of insurance and a credit card. There is no waiting period or background check. Every airport has a car rental agency.

Getting a driver’s license is pretty easy. There is a standardized test, vision test, and a small application fee. Unlike New York or California, I do not need to show that I have some unusual need for a car. Nor will I need to bribe an official of the Department of Motor Vehicles to get approved, as some have in New York City and in California. You can even get a license at 16 in most states (and even younger in some states) to drive a vehicle capable of killing dozens of people in a terrorist rampage. Convicted felons, mentally ill people, and those dishonorably discharged from the military are allowed to get licenses.

Gun owners are subject to a constant storm of prejudicial news coverage portraying us as one step away from a murderous rampage. There are constant attempts to ban guns (at least some sorts of guns, for starters). Car owners? No. Yet there were 36,120 motor vehicle accident deaths in 2019, compared to 39,707 firearms deaths (most of which were suicides).

Regulate guns like cars? Gun owners would mostly regard this as a gift.

As I said though, the Second Amendment is a constitutional right. It is actually outrageous that it takes constitutional-carry laws to get government out of the way of this right. It is outrageous that a person with a clean record can’t easily carry this freedom all over America. It is outrageous that gun owners are constantly blamed for the actions of criminals—people who almost always use illegally owned guns to break other laws.

So driving is a legal privilege, whereas the right to own and carry a gun is protected by the Second Amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights, yet, as it stands now, drivers often have more freedom than gun owners.



Philip Schreier
Philip Schreier

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