Let’s regulate guns like we regulate cars

Whenever you start talking gun control with people, someone will invariably bring up “you have to have a license to drive a car” and suggest that we regulate guns in a similar manner. The problem is that no one actually thinks that analogy all the way through, because if they did no anti-gun person would ever support regulating guns the same way we regulate cars. Today we’re going to do a little thought experiment and actually think this analogy all the way through.

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Let’s examine the analogy completely, starting with gun ownership. Even at the sketchiest of pawn shops in America, here are the steps that I have to take to legally buy a handgun:

  1. Be over 21
  2. Fill out a 4473
  3. Pass a federal background check (NICS)
  4. Pay the shop

And that’s just the process if you live in free America. Plenty of states have additional restrictions like waiting periods and state level background checks. For example in Washington, a state with pretty decent gun laws, unless you have a WA CPL you have to wait an additional 5 days from when you purchase a handgun to when you can actually take it home. This is so the state police can make double plus sure that you’re not a badguy, despite having already passed a NICS check.

Now, here are the necessary steps you must take to buy a car:

  1. Have enough money.

Mind you, we’re not talking about driving the car, just like we’re not talking about carrying the gun. To do nothing other than buy a handgun and take it home, I have to jump through several hoops. If I’m 16 and I want to buy a car, all I need is money.

Now you’re probably thinking “Caleb, that’s not a fair comparison, who would buy a car and not drive it? You have to look at driving the car to get a fair comparison.” Alright, let’s do that. Driving a car is reasonably analogous to carrying a concealed firearm. You’re in a public space, and there is a burden of responsibility that comes with it. That’s why the state requires you to have a driver’s license and insurance to drive on their roads. Here’s a comparison of driver’s licenses and CCW permits:

Driver’s License

  1. Requires that new applicants pass a skill test that is so simple, 16 year old children are considered somewhat deficient if they can’t pass it on their first try.
  2. Once issued, can be renewed without having to retake the skills until the operator reaches dotage.
  3. Allows the operator to drive quite legally in all 50 states, some foreign countries, on school property, etc without being questioned.

CCW Permit

  • Depending on where you live, may have no training requirement, will definitely require some kind of police background check, may require training of some type, but there is no sort of consistent state to state standard.
  • Is not good in all 50 states, and you may be arrested in some states where it is good due to ignorance of the law on the part of the officer.
  • Depending on the state, may require training each time it’s renewed, may not require training, but there is no consistent state to state standard.

So you know what? Let’s do it. Let’s regulate guns like we regulate cars. I’d love to have a CCW permit with a training standard so easy a teenager is expected to pass it on his first try, I’d love for that permit to be valid in every state in the nation, no questions asked. Next time you’re talking to an anti-gun person and this comes up, feel free to use the handy bullet points we’ve created. It may work better in states that have heavier regulations on gun ownership than others, so tailor appropriately to your area.


  1. The anti crowd would be more focused on government mandated safety features, extra licenses for high capacity guns, inspections, etc. Bad idea.

    1. But they would lose on the fact that there could be no restrictions on high capacity guns, or automatic weapons. We don’t regulate max speed or max HP.

  2. My favorite is unless alcohol is involved, any injury or death caused by operating a motor vehicle is an “accident” unless you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt it was malicious, which is nearly impossible.

  3. I think the title of this should be “Let’s regulate carrying guns like we do driving.” I don’t really want the gov mandating the kind of things analogous to crash tests for gun that they did for cars that would make them much more expensive…

  4. I’ve thought about this exact scenario for a while and think it wouldn’t be a terrible idea, except that it would be simple for anti-gunners to simply change a few laws making it prohibitively difficult/expensive to get a gun “license”. Just like the obscenely high taxes on ammo that are inevitably coming after the next shooting tragedy. Guns will still be legal, just no one can afford to shoot then.

  5. If I want to drive that car on my own property – perhaps I have a few hundred acres of trails or my own race track – I don’t have to register that car, have insurance for it, nor do I have to have a license to drive it. I can buy it and have a ramp truck deliver it to my house so it doesn’t need to hit the streets. Heck, I can buy a car for someone else, too, and I can loan my car to anyone I please. And suppose I do have that license – I can drive any similar vehicle anywhere, not just mine. With a class A CDL with motorcycle & passenger endorsements, I can drive just about any kind of vehicle anywhere you noted and it doesn’t matter who actually owns it (as long as I didn’t steal the thing).

    No one has to prove a “need” to anyone if they want to get a license to drive a motor vehicle. The examiner doesn’t look at me funny if I want to add the “air brakes” or “tanker” endorsement to my CDL – I just pay a little extra for each endorsement and (usually) have to pass a little exam first. If I get to the DMV and the line is too long, I can go to another DMV in a different county even and still get my license renewed. No problems.

    A ten-year-old with enough cash (it’s possible) can buy a car and drive it all they want to on any private property, no license, no insurance, and no registration, as long as they stay off the public roads. Note that this often does not apply to ATVs/OHRVs, which in most cases are more regulated. But an actual motor vehicle that would otherwise be street legal? No papers, no exams, no nothing as long as the kid has the cash and keeps it off the public streets. Given that there are states where one needs a permit simply to purchase or own – not even carry – in addition to what you’ve noted above, that would be a cool standard to have for firearms, too.

    1. I forgot the enviable fact that with motor vehicles, if my license is expired or they take it away for some reason, I still get to keep my car and any other motor vehicles that I own. They just don’t want me out driving on public streets, but I can still keep my vehicles at my property just the same.

      If I commit a violation with that car (not a misdemeanor like DWI or negligent homicide) I get a ticket, keep my license and car, and otherwise just get sent on my way. The cops don’t take my car unless I’ve done something so horrendous that it warrants them getting me off the street, but if I can arrange it, another driver can come & pick up my car and take it home for me. And they don’t then follow me home to confiscate all my other vehicles, either.

      Sorry to ramble, but there are a few southern-New England liberals in our extended family, and I’ve argued these points before when such things come up. I don’t think I’ve changed any minds, but I have pissed a few of them off. Which is almost as good, sometimes.

  6. Usually, I can just shut down that line of reasoning by stating that you only need to register your car, and get a license if you want to use your car in public. Just like CCW.

    So, guess what anti-gun person. There is already registration and licensing requirements to carry a gun in public, just like cars.

  7. You allude to something bigger. Your Driver’s License allows you to drive that car -everywhere- you can legally go in the normal course of business. Only “Employees Only” or physically secured parking areas are off-limits to licensed drivers. The equivalent for carriers would be everywhere not behind a locked door or requiring an official escort so all Post Office box lobby and counter areas and all customer service areas of government offices would be open to carry.

  8. The Left (liberals, progressives, Democrats, the ACLU, the media, etc.) believe that illegal aliens should be allowed to have drivers licenses (just not required to show them to vote). Giving illegal aliens drivers licenses is a benefit to society, and to suggest otherwise is racist. Or so they tell us.

    But law abiding citizens with CCW permits should not be allowed to carry guns, they say. Because college campuses are sacred hallowed ground. In Colorado, the Democrats would have outlawed CCW permits on college campuses last year. The only reason the bill didn’t pass was the backlash that resulted from their treatment of rape victim Amanda Collins, who testified against the ban. Even the sponsor of the bill said that such a ban would not “increase or reduce violent crime, that is not the premise of the bill“. So now they want to put such a ban on the ballot for this year.

    By the same logic, if liberals regulated cars the same way they want to regulate guns, they would make it illegal to drive to a college campus (unless you’re an illegal alien).

  9. Article I, section 8, delegates to Congress the power “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia….”

    In other words, the Federal Government should indeed be running something like a high school militia class, similar to driver’s ed. I envision a year long course, with class studies including philosophy, history, and law; range time with rifle, shottie, and pistol, and fieldwork to teach map reading, search and rescue, fire fighting, first aid, and so forth,

    Successful completion gets you the semi-auto version of the current military duty rifle, 6000 rounds of practice ammo, and a spot on the phone tree.

  10. How do I go about getting a license to drive my Sherman Tank on city streets?

    1. The tough part is making sure the tank is street legal. Restrictions on tracked vehicles over a certain weight on city streets not built for them don’t implicate the 2nd Amendment in any way. =)

  11. On thing I haven’t seen mentioned is the fact that driving a vehicle is a privilege afforded to you by the state, not a constitutional right. I get that this is driving a vehicle versus owning a firearm (usage vs. ownership), but the point is vehicle ownership and usage is a privilege, not a right covered in the Constitution; private ownership of firearms is a Constitutional Right.

    1. Adam, I don’t disagree with you. I don’t think that getting bogged down in discussion of gun ownership as a right vs. the privilege of driving helps us win the argument when it comes up. But I do agree with your point.

  12. Due to a strike on the part of the Texas DPS examiners, and the subsequent waiver for students who took drivers ed, my wife received her driver’s license without ever having taken the driving test. She’s never had to take a driving test.

    Which brings up another point: Will high schools be teaching “shooters ed”?

  13. >Allows the operator to drive quite legally in all 50 states

    This should be clarified. The only reason it’s legal to drive in CA or NY with a UT driver’s license is because CA and NY have agreed to let people with a valid UT license drive in their states. There is _nothing_ on the federal level which compels one state to honor the drivers license of another for the purposes of driving. (There is a requirement that one state honor the license as a form of identification, but that’s another matter.)

    We (TINW) do NOT want (nor do we need) the federal government to get involved in the carry permit reciprocity situation. It would not end well.

  14. Don’t forget that just like cars, guns should have a near mandatory training for every boy and girl in high school. At age 15 all the boys and girls will be able to use school provided rifles, pistols, and shotguns in a variety of scenarios that will improve their skill and safety in their use. Bring it on lefties.

  15. You forgot to mention a car is a 2,000 lb object made of steel that has killed hundreds of thousands of people from gross negligence and accidents. When that 2,000 lb car is going down the road at 30+ mph, which compared to the bullet of a gun, your odds of surviving a hit is probably much better with a bullet.

  16. How do I go about getting a license to drive my Sherman Tank on city streets?

    I think there are individuals who own tanks and drive them, but the gun has to be demilitarized or made nonfunctional. Unless there’s an expensive and hard to get license from the ATF that allows private citizens to own artillery. I would imagine the only requirements would be road legal and weight restrictions.

    1. You can get tax stamps for artillery pieces, including tank guns. $200 and months of waiting. It’s the cost of the gun that gets you. As far as local ordinances go, I’m not sure what regs would apply to having a round chambered on the freeway. =)

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