By Stu Chisholm
Detroit, Michigan --(Ammoland.com)- As many gun rights activists well know, a favorite tactic of the anti-gun-rights bunch lately has been to equate guns rights with car priviliages.
To keep you, my readers, from getting eye roll-induced headaches, I won’t rehash this old argument. Instead, my focus will be on the single surviving component that has been the darling of the Brady and Bloomberg zombies: liability insurance.
ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER…
Like most false equivalencies, the very foundation of this proposal is faulty, the main reason being that automobiles are not considered basic “inalienable” human rights under the Constitution. (In short, there is no amendment describing the “right to buy and drive cars.”)
Additionally, as I point out in my book, “Knowing Guns,” ( http://tiny.cc/l6au0w ) the Second Amendment isn’t even really about guns!
When it was written, the word “arms” covered a broad range of weapons, which included broadswords, dirks, rapiers, sabers and machetes along with muskets, rifles and pistols. Over the years, guns have become synonymous with “arms” since other arms have gone out of fashion and firearms are the most commonly used and effective military and defensive weapons. But once again, no eyestrain; I’m not going to re-argue the beaten-to-death attacks on the 2nd Amendment either. The point here is that as far as the Constitution is concerned, you have a right to self-defense (arms), but your right to mechanized mobility (or even a horse) is not guaranteed; the latter remains in the realm of privilege.
Working up from here, anti-gunners have glommed-on to recent statistics from a handful of states where shooting deaths have equaled or surpassed deaths in auto accidents. The implication, of course, is that “gun crime” is on the rise. No quick, easy answers describe the reality behind the numbers, making this point harder for the informed pro-gun advocate to express effectively. To be as concise as possible, let’s start with the basic question: has “gun crime” increased? The correct answer is “yes and no.” Some specific cities, states or counties have indeed seen spikes in shootings. Almost without exception, those areas have also seen spikes in criminal/gang activity. Nationally, however, all violent crime, including those where guns are involved, continues to drop as two recent studies show. So why the “collision” of car and gun death data?
The most likely answer is that higher compliance with seat belt laws, ubiquitous use of air bags and better safety technology have decreased highway fatalities, bringing them down to the current levels of gun crime.
THE GARAGE VS. THE SAFE
Unless you have a job that requires you to carry or use a gun every day, such as a police officer or security guard, then chances are you’re a casual user. That means that your gun(s) stay in your safe, for the most part, only going out anywhere from a couple times a week to maybe a few days during hunting season. On the other hand, for most of us, it’s a rare day when we don’t drive our cars. We spend hours and hours in them vs. the minutes we might spend busting clays or pinging steel.
I’ve found no hard numbers on this, but logic dictates that there must be a huge disparity between the number of hours a car is active and the number of hours a gun is also active.
Operating an automobile is complex; the car itself requires maintenance, driving is a skill that can take weeks or months to achieve a passing level of expertise before gaining a license, and you need to know all of the laws surrounding their operation, including the meaning of all the signs, lights, road markings and signals. In sharp contrast, guns are very simple devices. My Glocks have three controls – a magazine release, slide release and trigger, and other makes may add a fourth: an external safety – as compared to the numerous controls in my van. Driver’s ed classes can be days or even a week long, yet a decent instructor can show a novice how to safely use, operate and control a gun in less than an hour. The litany of safety rules and local laws may be about the only thing that is similar between the two, and the part of any class that takes up the most time.
The universality of automobiles in American life, combined with the above realities, means that nearly every driver will experience at least one accident in their car somewhere along the way. Vehicles occupy spaces (roads) with other vehicles, often in close proximity, so that an accident may well involve other drivers and even parked cars. In contract, the four basic safety rules of gun handling are easy to follow, and easily made habitual in a short period of time. Accidents among shooters/gun owners are rare. The way shooting ranges are set up, shooters are seldom crowded together and any A.D.s (accidental discharges) rarely involve other shooters.
So, in summary, cars are pervasive in the average person’s everyday life, are harder to learn to use and operate and the majority are involved in some sort of accident – the precise opposite of firearms.
What is obvious to activists who have been “in the trenches” long enough is that there is an agenda at work here that has nothing to do with safety or concern for victims. It is part of an incremental, step-by-step plan to block citizens from guns. One way is to price certain segments out of the market. They’re busy pushing several (“green” ammunition, forcing background checks through FFL dealers, etc.), and this is one more: adding burdensome, expensive per-gun insurance requirements that would price out potential gun buyers of more modest means (a.k.a. the poor).
The “Poor” also tend to be the people who need self-defense the most, yet these are the people who will pay should the gun prohibitionists prevail.
Fortunately, such a requirement, and resulting fee, would constitute a de-facto TAX on what is now unquestionably regarded as a basic, individual right. When such fees, known as “poll taxes,” were enacted to try to keep people of color and other “undesirables” from voting under the Jim Crow laws, they were stuck down by constitutional amendment. Therefore, any effort to enact a similar requirement on another right would also prove unconstitutional.
The coup-de-grace for this particular idea, however, comes in the form of a question: how do fans of this idea propose to force criminals and gang members to buy such insurance? This is a fair question, since it’s drug related activity and gangs that commit the most homicides. To demand the law abiding, who rarely harm anyone, to buy insurance due to the acts of the very few defies logic, not to mention questions of fairness. For these reasons, the “insurance on all guns” proposal needs to be tossed onto the massive pile of failed past gun controls as quickly as possible. For those of us who are truly concerned with safety, this avoids yet another blind alley and can ultimately lead to some truly effective solutions to our problems with violence.
And, of course, keep a copy of my book “Knowing Guns” handy, available on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/l6au0w
Until next time, share the knowledge!
Follow Stu Chisholm on Twitter at @Djstucrew
About the author:
Mobile DJ, business owner/entrepreneur and author Stu Chisholm was born in Detroit, Michigan. A columnist for the DJ industry trade magazine, Mobile Beat, Stu’s series on “DJ Security” contained a controversial segment on concealed carry and the use of guns. It was later included in, and expanded upon, in his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey,” published in 2008. Running a business and pursuing what he considers logical security measures, Stu obtained his CCW permit in the state of Michigan in the late ’90s and later became active in the gun rights movement. He joined the grass roots group MCRGO, the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, helping to reform Michigan’s concealed carry law in 2001. Stu remains an active DJ, writer and activist, and is currently collaborating on an upcoming science-fiction book set in Detroit’s near future. He is married to cable television producer, Janette Chisholm and lives in Roseville, Michigan.