Guns are like cars. They both serve a practical purpose. We use cars for traveling, and we use guns for hunting. We also use both for pleasure. For many people, driving cars or shooting guns are hobbies. Some people collect cars, or guns, and there are a few people who are so interested in them that they know everything there is to know about them.
They can also both be dangerous. In the wrong hands, they can be lethal, and both cars and guns can be used for nefarious purposes. Both cause thousands of deaths every year, and countless injuries. Both can be used to intentionally cause harm, and both can accidentally cause harm if used incorrectly.
However, car owners do not have a constitutional amendment protecting their right to own cars. They do not have a massive lobby to advocate for their rights. They don’t have an obsessive group of people advocating for the public’s right to own cars at all costs.
That’s because we don’t need a constitutional amendment to protect our right to own cars. We also don’t need a constitutional amendment to protect our right to own refrigerators, golf clubs, silverware, or any of the other things we own. And we don’t need a constitutional amendment to protect our right to own guns. We may have needed one 200 years ago, but we don’t need one anymore.
In order for people to drive a car, they must go through an immense amount of training and pass a rigorous test to be given a driver’s licence. They then must obey many rules and regulations while driving. We regulate how fast people can drive, where they must stop and which direction they can travel. We have a list of things that can and cannot be done while driving. We actively prohibit drivers from drinking alcohol or texting while driving. In many states, we require that drivers wear seatbelts. We prevent people who are too young from driving, and we require that drivers meet a certain standard of health.
We do almost none of these things for gun owners. In many states, gun owners are allowed to buy large numbers of guns and ammo without a background check. They are allowed to own and use guns after receiving little to no training, and in some states are allowed to carry a gun without a licence at all. There is no federal database of gun owners, and there are very few restrictions on what those owners can do with their guns.
The regulations imposed on car owners drastically reduce the number of traffic accidents in this country. Similarly, strict regulations on the ownership and use of guns would drastically reduce the number of gun deaths in this country. As I mentioned in a previous post, the rate of gun deaths is much higher in the United States than in Europe, where gun control is much more prevalent. The only thing standing in the way of safer schools, streets, and communities is the NRA and people with similar views complaining about their second amendment rights.
There is no fundamental right to own a gun, just as there is no fundamental right to own a car. NRA types point to the second amendment as if that confers special treatment for gun owners, as if guns were some kind of privileged category of possessions. That’s simply not true. There is no fundamental right to own a gun, and people should stop pretending that there is.