Cautionary Lessons for Gun Owners Learned From Licensing Drivers


Cautionary Lesson for Gun Owners Learned From Licensing Drivers
Cautionary Lesson for Gun Owners Learned From Licensing Drivers

Fayetteville, AR – -( One of the favorite rhetorical tropes of gun control advocates is to draw a comparison between how we treat the ownership and operation of cars and guns. The essence of the argument is that we allow people to own and use cars while regulating their use and designs, so gun control regulation will work and doesn’t have to be a disaster for gun rights.

There are a number of flaws with this line of reasoning. While I would say that freedom of movement is a fundamental right, the Constitution doesn’t enumerate it for protection, unlike gun rights. Driving is an activity done on public roads for the most part, whereas gun possession is mostly something carried on in one’s home or on one’s person. And categorically, guns and cars are not the same things. A gun is a tool for one set of tasks, which includes fighting. A car is also a tool, but its function is for another set of purposes, and the two sets have little overlap.

That being said, it is worth taking the argument as it is and seeing if it can stand on its own terms. One of the implied claims is that we gun owners should have to obtain a license not only to carry but also to own firearms, the notion being that a license to drive makes the act of using an automobile safer and by comparison, the same would be true with guns.

Does a requirement to have a driver’s license to operate a vehicle on the roads increase safety?

That is the claim that has been made throughout the history of such licenses, and the same offenders in violating gun rights—New York, New Jersey, and Illinois—led the way in driving control. There is a good reason to believe that being careful about letting teenagers drive improves road conditions, but that’s more a case of children not being adults, rather than a comment about the population generally.

The fatality rate in vehicle crashes has declined over the last forty years, but there’s a key change that undermines the requirement of a driver’s license as the cause: changes in vehicle safety design. While seat belts, air bags, safety glass, and crumple zones have become more common; deaths have gone down—even though we’ve brought the speed limit on the Interstate Highway System up from the soul-crushing fifty-five miles an hour.

The parallel here is in safety features in firearms—and no, I don’t mean the demands for “smart” guns. I have a lot of aesthetic appreciation for older designs, but let’s face facts: A firing pin block is a good idea. The gun shouldn’t fire when bumped or when you close the bolt. (Readers will recall several examples here.) The metallurgy should be suitable for the designated cartridge.

Am I really arguing that licenses to drive are pointless? I’ll refrain from temptation and say that this isn’t the point of today’s article.

I am saying is that attempts to compare guns and cars with the goal of requiring a license to be a legal gun owner don’t work. The test to get a driver’s license is pro forma and rarely repeated. The lack of a repeated test to keep the “safety” standard up makes me suspect that the purpose of the DRLC document is much more about raising money for the county/state than about safety. What this proposed analogy does is ask us to contemplate the purpose of controls on the behavior of ordinary people.

Somehow, I don’t think that people control is what gun control advocates intended to be as the focus of the discussion.

About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

  • 50 thoughts on “Cautionary Lessons for Gun Owners Learned From Licensing Drivers

    1. A better comparison would be between gun laws and voting. A background check and government permission needed before being allowed to register. A photo id required before being allowed to vote. And of course the various fees and excise taxes just like on ammo and guns. If it is good enough for guns, then it is good enough for voting. After all if it prevents just ONE illegal vote it is worth it.

    2. A car can be used to harm , kill people. That is a fact. Drunk drivers kill , maim people all the time. Also there are psychopaths that have used motor vehicles to plow thru groups of innocent people , causing death & devastation. Where there is a will to harm people , there is a way. As for firearms , they are not going to pick themselves up and go harm anyone. Driving is a privilege. The Right to keep and bear arms is just that , a Right under the second Amendment of our constitution. These leftist anti gun grabbing politicians need to understand the difference between a God given Right , and a privilege. I don’t think that is in their agenda. These anti gun grabbing tyrants are not hoplophobe’s , they are like pedophiles. Its all about having power over we the people. A disarmed populace , is a helpless populace. Cars vs firearms , what a joke. Do not allow the left to make sheep of people. That is the goal of the Bloomberg’s of the US , disarm us , controll us. The infringment’s on our 2A have taken enough from LAW ABIDING CITIZENS. Speak up , tell your state representatives enough already. SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED means what it says. Our founding fathers must be turning in their graves.

    3. 1. Lots of people drive without a license and after a license has been suspended or revoked.
      2. Lots of people drive without insurance.
      3. People can buy cars and get licenses, in most cases, after being convicted of felonies or misdemeanor domestic violence. If they can’t, see 1 & 2.
      4. A driver’s license is good in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

      Do the leftists/antigun nuts REALLY want guns treated like cars?

    4. Enough on cars already! Let’s just tell those that tell us guns kill, that cars kill and best they walk unarmed.

    5. First, driving is a privilege and gun ownership is a God given right!

      Second, there are many more guns than cars in the USA, and yet there are four times more deaths from car crashes. Go figure?

      Third, free men and and women don’t have to pay or qualify for exercising their God given Constitutional rights! The Government can go pound sand!!

    6. The Second amendment was written as a commanding prohibition against the entry and encroachment to the right to keep and bear arms.

      “Shall” is a Command.
      “Not” is a Prohibition.
      “Be” a state to existence
      “Infringed” Means Trespass which is Entry and Transgress, which is Encroachment.
      Thus we have a Commanding prohibition against the Entry and Encroachment upon the “Right” to Keep and Bear Arms.

      The right travel is also apart of the constitution. The Dred Scot decision was actually a “Right to Travel Ruling”. We have allowed our government an authority and jurisdiction that it has “NO” right to have.

      I have “NO” confidence in my government , Local, State and Federal.

      1. @freeillinois, That is a good observation. When the first court distinguished between the right to travel and driving and got away with it, they curtailed our Civil Right to travel to walking. All the other elitists took up the chant, and now look where we are. We must get back to the notion that a Right is complete, unbridgeable, and makes us an equal to the government by being able to say “NO” and make it stick.

    7. DONT POST CRAP LIKE THIS.IM SURE LIBERAL GUN GRABBERS READ THIS. Your adding ideas to a pregnant group of haters

    8. Regarding “freedom of movement ” as a “Right ” … the 9th Amendment states ” The enumeration in the Constitution of certain Rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People .” Rational limitations do make sense …but those who would deny “Rights ” will continue to claim that their extreme and deceitful limitations are rational in order to actually deny and disparage the existence of the “Right ” .

    9. And if you really want to compare statistics, then tell the whole story — compare motor vehicle deaths to gun deaths

    10. If guns were treated like cars, doesn’t that mean that after getting his drivers/gun license, a 16 year old could hop in one of his family’s cars, carry one of his family’s guns, and take both to school? Buying both fuel and ammunition at the corner gas/ammo store? His high school, of course, would have offered shooting classes alongside the driver’s ed classes and taught him to shoot as well as drive.

      Mail and internet sales of guns would resume, the same government that builds free roads would be obliged to build free shooting ranges – lots and LOTS of free shooting ranges, And of course, people could carry guns freely across state lines as readily as they could drive their cars across state lines. There would be no such things as background checks, either, since there aren’t for cars.


      Owning guns should not be regulated any more than owning cars. Neither should be registered!!

      While “operating” a “motor vehicle” may be a privilege, Keeping and bearing arms is a RIGHT.

      Comparisons between cars and arms are strawman arguments designed to break down legitimate complaints!!

      Cars and Arms are both protected under PROPERTY RIGHTS, which are ALLODIAL. Any politician who tells you that yesterday’s Right is today’s privilege is LYING and TRYING TO STEAL YOUR PROPERTY AND OTHER RIGHTS, And therefore is a RENEGADE AND A TRAITOR!!

    12. Drivers License = Privilege granted by each State or Territory – each having different requirements for one but recognized by each other.

      Firearms = Granted by a Constitutional Right under the 2nd Amendment – yet possession and use are highly regulated and their possession and use are not recognized by each other.

      Purchased my first car and motorcycle as a minor – did not need to register or license them as long as they were not driven on public roads.

      For those urbanites who can not understand the differences in this discussion: the next time you travel out into the country (if you ever do) and are observant enough – you will see vehicles marked “FARM VEHICLE USE ONLY” – very few of which are registered or licensed with the state. Please feel free to stop and tell the Farmer or Rancher to register & license that vehicle. He or She will most like to tell you to hang your hat where the sun does not shine.

      1. Actually the 2nd Amendment does not GRANT a right. The RIGHTS are innately, or inalienably, granted by our creator already. The Constitution and BOR implicitly or explicitly recognize and protect those rights.

        The difference between the US Constitution and charters such as the UN, Russia… is that they do not recognize innate rights. They DO GRANT rights, meaning that they may revoke those rights at their will and you have no recourse.

        The left in the US is pushing to make us the same.

    13. Let’s make car ownership as burdensome as gun ownership. No more private car sales through craigslist. Must verify that the person buying the car has a valid drivers license and is not a felon. Cannot loan a car to a friend. Cannot modify the car to go faster. Get convicted of a felony and lose your right to own a car for life. If anyone in the home has been convicted of a motor vehicle violation then the car cannot be kept at home. Can’t drive a car registered in 1 state in any other state without permission. The rules for owning the same exact car differ for residents and non residents.

      1. Cannot drive within 1000 feet of a public school or courtroom. No stopping along the way to your destination unless absolutely necessary.

        1. Can sue the owner and manufacturer for murder, but defend the criminal who stole the car and deliberately rammed into a crowd.

    14. Then we should think hard about licensing reporters since their writings are killing people when they continue to cover the shooter more than those saving lives, which in turn has been proven to insite others to, out do the last mass murder. Maybe with life sentences in prison.

      Maybe there should be heavy fees for reporters and fines for lies and fabricated stores to in site riots. Maybe we should regulate ANTIFA for their lies and obstruction. Maybe those that obstruct peaceful rallies & speeches, like a Berkeley, should be jail for yelling out lies and unsubstantiated comments.

      CNN, ABC, BBC, NBC, MSNBC should all be regulated and require fact checking and fined if facts don’t bear out.

      If they were fined for just the last 2 years we would not have solved the national debit. That’s a fact ( well as close to fact as they have spewed out !

      I mean “Freedom of Speech” is just a constitutional amendment. The founding father could not possibly know that computers, Facebook, Google , TV’s, YouTube, would ever exist in the future.

      Food for thought.

      1. QOUTE:The founding father could not possibly know that computers, Facebook, Google , TV’s, YouTube, would ever exist in the future.:QOUTE

        Sure they did, that’s why Ben Franklin worked so hard to discover electricity.

    15. To expand on Nanashi;
      A drivers license is required to drive your car on public roads. There is no requirement to have a drivers license to own a car, only to use it on public roads. As pointed out by Nanashi, you already need a “License” to use your firearm on public land. Ask Hillary if she has a drivers license. She hasnt driven any of the cars she and Bill own in 25 years. Im pretty sure the Chauffeur doesn’t own the cars. Heck I be POTUS Trump doesn’t have a license either. I bet he owns quiet a few vehicles.

    16. 1. Anyone can buy as many cars as they wish any time they want with no legal restrictions and it requires no license to do so; just a signature on the title or bill of sale.
      2. Cars are not regulated with regards to their rate of speed or capacity.
      3. There is no tax stamp and half-year wait on mufflers, automatic transmissions or short cars.
      4. A driver’s license is only required to operate a car in public.
      5. The insane liberal media has never written an over-hyped story about a crazed driver with over 10 cars and a thousand gallons of gas, where the government subsequently convicted him on “intent” based on social media posts.
      6. As of yet, Maryland has not confiscated any person’s cars because a bitter ex-girlfriend felt threatened.
      I could go on all day, so yeah… let’s treat guns like cars, please!

    17. Once regulation of inanimate objects begins, who decides what and why they need to be regulated? Would we regulate earthmoving equipment, pneumatic and electrical tools, ladders, computer equipment, knives in a manner similar to automobiles? These and many other objects are dangerous if misused. If people are held to a standard of behavior then there will be no need to regulate inanimate objects. But lets face it, people who misbehave vote for Liberal Democrats and inanimate objects don’t vote.

    18. You don’t need the license to buy the car.

      You can buy as many cars as you can afford and as often as you can afford and don’t need a license to do so.

      You only need one license and it applies to you, not the car. You can drive any car and at any time.

      The license is recognized in every town in every state, no questions asked.

      You can renew the license by mail and it is typically good for several years.

      These are all things about cars that make them *less* regulated compared to guns.

    19. Cars can be operated by felons without restrictions and drivers licenses, regardless of home state, is good nationwide. So I guess their logic is in favor of national reciprocity!

      1. And in most States a 16 year old can start driving with supervision. And no restrictions on the type of vehicle. It could be a muscle car. A14 year old can pursue a pilot licence.

    20. Licensing creates hurdles that only impede our constitutional rights, additional cost of insurance , testing and registry of owned firearms would lead to bans based on tiered classes of types eventually limiting owners to one musket a month.

    21. Rights are not privileges, and thus, cannot be lawfully subjected to licensing, registration or permitting requirements. To attempt to do so would be basically holding our Rights hostage for ransom. It’s not a Right if we need someone else’s permisson to exercise.

      1. I think that the “fully semi-automatic” ones definitely should be – “for the children,” ya know . . . .

    22. Firearms already require more licensing than cars. No license, registration, or insurance is required to drive on private property like a farm, track, or private land. There is no license required to have a firearm in the home. There is a license required in most states to carry the firearm on one’s person in a concealed manner, which is the most prudent way to carry. A license is required to hunt. Membership requirements must be met to shoot at a club or in competition, which operates identically to a license. Every activity that presents any kind of risk to the public requires a license. Just like with cars, the only thing that does not require a license also does not present any risk to the public. The main difference is firearm licenses have to be reobtained, often with the same requirements as the first time, while drivers licenses require one test for life, usually taken at a young age, the rest is all about fees. I don’t know about you, but from what I see every day about 90% of people desperately need to redo drivers education.

      1. My anti-2A state requires an ID card to possess a firearm and a permit to purchase each handgun. The steps required to obtain these differ from a license only in that competency to use doesn’t currently have to be demonstrated. It is more onerous in that a background check with fingerprints is required. They are currently looking to increase the fees for this dramatically and to possibly require training prior to issuance.

    23. I’ll make the argument then. A driver’s license is because before you were born you were tresspassed off of public property for no reason.

      It was like hiring a babysitter and when you left for the evening she changed the locks and charges you rent to come home.

    24. A drivers license is a contract with the state abrogating rights to the De Jure / Constitution (For) The Republic for the United states. Not (Of) the constitution for the U.s. which would be of foreign status and a corporation. Which in fact if you are U.s. citizen you are of foreign status and out of your proper person (in propia personam) you have only rights of a corporation. One wouldnt go into Walmart and ask for the privilege to travel (a right thereof) or to drive commercially. One wouldn’t do the same for a gun either. A right is something unlienable of the creator/nature or whatever omnipresence one chooses to believe and base their moral compass towards. Privilege is something to be asked, granted, and taken away.

    25. Here some other points in our favor for this stupid argument:
      Car Firearm
      16 years old to buy, own, and drive Ages 18 for long gun, 21 for handgun
      No criminal background check Criminal background check required to buy and for carry permit
      Privilege, seems to mean more than a………Constitutionally protected Right
      Unregulated private sales Libtards want background checks for private sales
      No restrictions on social media Social media owning fascists block references to firearms
      Can own and operate as convicted felon Loss of 2A Rights

      …….shall I continue, or is my point made?

      1. 16? Ha! Idaho, Montana and North Dakota actually allow you to get a learner’s permit at 14 and (restricted) license at 15. South Dakota lets you get a learner’s permit at 14 and restricted license at 14 and a half. Don’t need a license to own a car either, so long as it stays on private property (You’d generally need someone to pick it up or deliver your purchase for you, but absolutely possible).

        1. Nanashi, aren’t those permits/licenses only needed if onw wishes to drive on Government owned roadways?
          Meaning that even an 8-year-old could drive on the farm or a logging road in those areas.

    26. People who make this argument fail to realize cars are pretty much entirely unregulated at the Federal level beyond emissions and what state level regulations there are only apply on government land. Most of the time you already do need government permission to use your gun for non-emergency purposes on government land, and that permission is dependant upon training and test: It’s called a hunting license.

      1. I can OC for defense of self and property on Game lands without permits, hunting license, training or tests.

        Depending on age, no training or test is required for a hunting license either.

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