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Let's talk about a certain kind of object. A "motor vehicle."

This object is designed to transport people and materials from place to place

But because it is very heavy and can move with extreme speed, it is potentially dangerous. Because of this potential for danger, its use is highly regulated.


If you buy such an object,in almost every state, you must immediately pay a fee to register your ownership with the government, and at all times, the object must display a "license plate" identifying it as yours. Once a year thereafter, you must pay another fee to renew this registration.

The first time you use such an object, you must first pay a another fee to obtain a "license" or "learner's permit." You must also pass both a written and operational test of both your knowledge of laws pertaining to the operation of this object and your individual skill in operating it.

Before you can operate it, it must be fitted with specific safety equipment--lights, brakes, horn, seat belts. Once a year, you must pay a fee to have this equipment inspected.

Once a year, in almost every state, you must also pay to have this object checked to make sure it is not producing pollutants over a specific level.  

Your use of this object is strictly limited. You can only use it in specific, designated areas: roads, streets, highways, parking lots. Even in these areas, your use is tightly controlled by a multitude of regulatory devices: lane markings, stop signs, stop lights, turning signals, walkways, speed limits, directional signs. If you fail to obey these limits, the government can fine or even jail you.

If you use this object while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the government can fine or even jail you. In many states, even having a open can of beer in the car while you are driving can be grounds for an arrest.

In most states, you must obtain insurance coverage before using this object. If you fail to do so, your right to use this object can be revoked. If you use it nonetheless, the government can fine or even jail you.

If you allow a child under a certain age to operate this object, you can be arrested, fined and even jailed.  

Despite all these regulations, more than 32,000 people died because of the use of these objects in 2011. This represents a fatality rate of 10.38 fatalities per 100,000 people, but it is the lowest such rate since 1941. (In fact, the last time this rate was this low was in 1919. 1941 marked the highest rate of fatalities per 100,000 people, 28.59.)  

Now let's talk about another type of object. A firearm.

This object is designed specifically to inflict damage, on inanimate targets, game animals and human beings.

The regulations on owning and using this type of object vary widely from state to state. In some states, you do not need a permit to own many versions of  this object. In some states, there is no legal requirement to pass a test to prove your competency in operating this object. In some states, it is legal to carry certain versions of this object wherever you go, including into churches, schools, shopping malls, hospitals, and movie theatres. In some states, you can buy whatever version of this object you want, sometimes without even a background check. In almost no state is there requirement to obtain insurance to own this object.

In some states, there are no regulations defining how young a child must be before it can legally operate this object. In many states, you can legally drink while carrying this type of object.

Now....despite the relative lack of regulations involving the ownership and use of this object, there are people in this country who would like to get rid off all such regulations. All of them. In fact, they claim that the constitution gives them the right to own and carry this type of object without any government restrictions whatsoever.

When others argue that this would be dangerous, the "right to carry" citizens cite the fact that more people are injured and killed by automobiles than firearms. (The firearm death rate for 2009 was 10.1 people per 100,000 in population.)  Therefore, they claim, firearms are inherently less dangeous than motor vehicles.

But before we accept this argument, perhaps this question should be asked:

If all regulations were removed on the use of motor vehicles--or even if they were as laxly regulated as firearms--what would the death rate for motor vehicle use be then?

If drivers could drive one anywhere they wanted--on the sidewalk, across front yards, through an open air pedestrian mall--what would the death rate be then?

If they could always use their own judgment on when it was necessary to stop, or wait before making a left-hand turn, or decide for themselves if they needed to yield to oncoming traffic, what would the death rate be then?

If they could legally drive 60 miles per hour down crowded city streets or 100 miles per hour down single-lane country roads, what would the death rate be then?

If they could legally drive with worn brakes, turn signals that didn't work, no seatbelts, and bald tires, what would the death rate be then?

If they could legally drive while drinking, what would the death rate be then?

If they could sit in the back seat while their twelve year old chld drove, what would be the death rate then?

If they knew that no one could easily identify the car they were driving as theirs, what would the death rate be then?

I think we know the answer. The death rate would not be in the tens of thousands, but in the hundreds of thousands.  

At least.

Common sense regulation of this potentially deadly type of object saves hundreds of thousands of lives per year and does not materially effect the benefits or pleasure of owning it.

Common sense regulation of firearms would have the same effect.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Amen. There will be grumbling about some rights (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Smoh, ExStr8

    are in the Constitution and others are not. Those don't lessen the logic of your suggestions in any way.

    The gun rights absolutists will say that there are about as many deaths from firearms as there are from motor vehicle accidents and that there are about as many firearms as there are cars, therefore guns are just as safe as cars.  When we point out that a great majority of Americans benefit from driving or riding a car whereas a minority owns all the guns and benefits from these, they proceed to insist that the only gun deaths that can be counted are homicides (a if suicide or accidental deaths didn't matter at all).

    Until we get the majority to insist on sensible regulation of deadly products and our Government (especially at the state level) is no longer owned/afraid of the NRA nothing will be done.

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:41:21 AM PST

  •  Lindsey Graham (Prick-SC)......We should not be (4+ / 0-)

    discussing what makes sense......we should be sympathetic to the families of the children.........(paraphrased)

  •  the heavy regulation is contingent on use (5+ / 0-)

    on public roads.  if you keep it on private property then the regulation is scant to nonexistent.

    •  is that regulation? or enforcement. (0+ / 0-)

      It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

      by Murphoney on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:50:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  regulation. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kestrel9000, winsock

        cars typically don't need to be insured or registered unless they're going on public roads.

        kids can drive on public roads, etc.

        •  s/b "kids can drive on private roads" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kestrel9000, RudiB
        •  Typically is the wrong word for you here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:


          cars typically don't need to be insured or registered unless they're going on public roads.
          There are many, many jurisdictions in this country where you can't even have a car sitting in your driveway without being legally tagged and insured.

          Silly, silly argument against the common-sense logic of regulating who, how, and when a person can purchase "certain types of weapons" as we regulate the use of an automobile.

          It is time to #Occupy Media.

          by lunachickie on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:06:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  let's check. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            what state are you thinking of?

            •  For kicks, I picked three states at random: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              IN, MT, and CT.

              Under Indiana 9-18-2, registration is required for cars subject to the excise tax.  Under the excise tax statute at 6-6-5, cars that will be driven on public roads are subject to excise tax.  IOW, if you're on private property no registration is required.

              Under MT law @ 61-3-303, it's the same thing: registration required for use on public roads.

              Under CT law, same thing.  @ 14-12(a).

              If you think you know of any states w/ different rules, let's check it out.  I'm always happy to learn new things, even if - especially if! - it means I'm wrong.

              •  It's true in WA (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                johnny wurster

                I don't know about any of those other states, but my wife's parents used to have a cabin on a private island.  

                They were not required to register the car that they used on the island, because the roads were not public.  

                She drove the island car around the island beginning at 14 or so.


                by otto on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:12:57 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  But I would ask this (0+ / 0-)

                Is a car that is driven on private lands subject to emissions testing?  

                Emissions are necessarily something that doesn't stay on your land, so I would argue that they should be subject to emissions, because that's the whole point of pollution control.  


                by otto on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:15:35 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  If everyone is willing to keep their guns on their (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          own property, more power to them.  They should still have to have insurance in case of accidental shootings, licensing, registration, demonstration of competence, etc.  etc.  if there are two gun owners in the same area we can't have any fingerpointing.

          Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

          by Smoh on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:21:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ok, but the comparison to autos (0+ / 0-)

            simply isn't instructive.

            •  It seems to be to RKBA, they use it often enough. (0+ / 0-)

              Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

              by Smoh on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:38:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  All metaphors (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              break down at some point.  This doesn't invalidate all comparison, but can certainly diminish the force of using the metaphor as an argument.  I think we can all agree that firearms and automobiles are different things.  How are they similar?  How are they different?  And how might our approach to automobiles inform our approach to firearms?

              In many ways, the comparison is a false equivalency.  For example, one could as well argue as follows: The number of firearms (270? million) and the number of registered passenger vehicles (254 million) are close -- overall, there are probably more guns than cars in the US.  However, the number of vehicle deaths is greater than the number of firearm deaths -- despite the fact that guns are designed for killing.  So what do we conclude?  Greater regulation results in more deaths?

              Obviously, I'm not arguing this.  But it does illustrate the dangers of drawing false equivalencies.

              Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

              by winsock on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:59:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Really? Each can be life-threatening if used (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              incorrectly. Each contributes to thousands of deaths each year.

              My point is simple. Because their use is highly regulated, cars do not kill the high number of people they have the potential to kill. Yet owners can use them and do use them, despite the high level of regulation involved.

              The same can be true of guns. Sensible gun regulation will not prohibit people from using guns. It will help--nothing will totally prevent--people from using guns to kill other people.

              Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

              by Sirenus on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:53:36 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  What percentage of motor vehicle (0+ / 0-)

      owners drive only on private property?

      And even if you do, you still have to register the vehicle, have it inspected, have a license plate on it and have to pass tests in order to drive it.

      About the only exception are agricutural vehicles such as tractors.

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:48:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Add ammo to your excellent anology (8+ / 0-)

    We pay road, and other,  taxes on the fuel we buy for our autos. This pays for (some) of the necessary infrastructure and maintenance thereof. Is it not logical that we "harvest" revenue from ammo buyers as well? When fuel costs go up, discretionary driving goes down.  Ditto cigarette usage, come to think of it. 'Just sayin.

  •  Add emission controls to your analogy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, lunachickie, Smoh, ExStr8

    People can own and operate cars, but the equipment itself is regulated. If a manufacturer wants to sell a car in California, for example, it will have to meet stringent standards. The same could be done for gun manufacturers. Yes, you can sell guns, but not those with high-volume magazines.

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

    by cassandracarolina on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:49:10 AM PST

  •  Parallels (4+ / 0-)

    Over the past 30 years, a person's freedom to consume alcoholic beverages either in private or in public has not been measureably restricted. Over that same period, neither has a person's freedom to buy a car, big or small, fast or not-so-fast.

    Over the past 30 years, DUI fatalities have dropped 50 percent despite the same level of availability of alcoholic beverages and cars to people who can legally own and responsibly use them.

    If one wants to make a regulatory parallel with automobiles, then do so in a way that works in the same fashion, with methods that work to deal with those who cause the problems, and not those who use the alcohol, cars or guns in a responsible fashion.

    •  Much has changed in the last 30 years that (0+ / 0-)

      explain the drop in fatalities.  

      Drivers are now required to have certain safety equipment on a car. Seat belts, for example. I'm old enough to remember when few cars had seat belts and there was no requirement to buckle up.  In fact, my mother and aunt were killed by a head-on collision with a drunk driver. They were not wearing their seat belts. My father and uncle were and they both survived. These days, you must have your car inspected once a year to make sure that your brakes work, your light work, you have working seat belt,etc. None of that was true 30 years ago.

      Add to that a tremendous change in the tolerance for drunk driving. The man who killed my mother had sat at a bar all day drinking. He did not have a valid driver's license, he had borrowed a friend's car that was not insured, he was totally to blame for the accident....and he got a 30 day suspended sentence. Two people dead....and a thirty day suspended sentence!

      God bless Mothers Against Drunk Driving. These days, the knowledge that a man who caused this kind of carnage would instead probably serve decades in jail on a manslaughter conviction probably has saved uncounted lives.

      Regulation. That does NOT penalize those who drive responsibly. But gives law enforcement the tools to stop or jail those who do. The same can be true of guns.  

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:06:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ultimate freedom is owning an army tank (6+ / 0-)

    To drive  and shoot at the same time.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:06:04 AM PST

  •  The analogy is closer than you probably knew (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, cassandracarolina, Sirenus

    The courts recognize a fundamental human right to free travel.

    This right is consistent with regulating specific modes of travel.

    •  there's a right to move interstate. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that means Kentucky can't levy a penalty on moving out of state; it doesn't mean they can't regulate the use of vehicles on public roads.

    •  even closer than you think (0+ / 0-)

      moving freely could be constrained just as searches become more intrusive

      Aug 5, 2009 – An Oregon congressman says he wants to test having a government GPS unit in every car so a tax could be imposed on the miles driven
      01.23.12 The Supreme Court said Monday that law enforcement authorities might need a probable-cause warrant from a judge to affix a GPS device to a vehicle and monitor its every move — but the justices did not say that a warrant was needed in all cases. The convoluted decision (.pdf) in what is arguably the biggest Fourth Amendment case in the computer age, rejected the Obama administration’s position that attaching a GPS device to a vehicle was not a search. The government had told the high court that it could even affix GPS devices on the vehicles of all members of the Supreme Court, without a warrant. “We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,’” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the five-justice majority. The majority declined to say whether that search was unreasonable and required a warrant.

      yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

      by annieli on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:41:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not making the argument that the government (0+ / 0-)

        has the right to regulate every aspect of driving.

        Let's not start sounding like the NRA "Any regulation is too much regulaton!"

        Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

        by Sirenus on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:08:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ammunition tax (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, cassandracarolina

    I was having this thought the other day.  

    I'm not usually in favor of using tax policy to craft a social agenda.

    But a tax should be representative of the overall cost to society of the thing that is being taxed.  

    If carbon emissions are a high cost to society, then they should be taxed.  

    Likewise, if ammunition were taxed at a high rate, that would help alleviate the imbalance between the cost to society and the ownership of the gun.

    That's a typical suggestion, but I have another one to go along with it.

    In order to encourage proper training and usage of firearms, what if you waived that tax for ammunition that is purchased and used at a firing range?  

    That would mean you get low cost ammunition in managed situations where training and support is available, but it would be prohibitive to fire weapons in other places.  

    Now, I know that people would immediately start arguing about the gray or black market that might arise, but those markets only operate to a certain extent, because people don't usually have the kind of time and freedom that is necessary to go those circuitous routes to get otherwise expensive items.  


    by otto on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:23:41 AM PST

  •  Let's do talk about cars in this fashion. (0+ / 0-)

    Let's talk bout how many people are killed every year in cars in the US.

    Let's talk about the numbers of children who bake to death every year in hot cars.

    Let's talk about the number of innocents slain by drunk drivers, or drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel, or total assholes who insist driving while texting or talking on cell phones, shall we?

    Let's talk about how a ban on cars would save lives -- and would improve the air and water quality and give people more money in their pockets and stop us being so dependent on foreign oil and cut the risk to our national parks and wildlife refuges from drilling and stop people being destroyed when trains hit cars.

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:45:40 AM PST

    •  Sarcasm noted. But exactly where did I (0+ / 0-)

      advocate that the right to have guns be totally eliminated?

      Even your examples, though, make my case for sensible regulation. In most states, laws have been passed that make it illegal to leave children in hot cars. All states have laws that make it illegal to cross tracks when the signals are soundng and the no-cross bar is down. Many states are now talking about banning texting while driving.

      And the point of these laws?  They make it possible for law enforcement to stop such insane actions, in many cases before someone is hurt. They also discourage idiots from doing such things. If this wasnt true, you'd have morons constantly running traffic lights, driving without lights and driving while stinking drunk. And you wouldn't be able to stop them until after the crash.  

      Almost any human activity has the potential to be dangerous in some way. My point is that even with a lot of sensible regulation, people use and enjoy their cars.

      Why can't gun owners do the same?

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:19:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sarcasm? No, Sirenus, I believe a case at least as (0+ / 0-)

        good, if not better, for the regulation of cars / trucks / motorcycles / airplanes can be made.

        We do have morons constantly running traffic lights.
        We do have idiots driving too fast for the conditions.
        We do have people driving while stinking drunk.
        Many of them are not stopped until AFTER the crashes -- when they've already maimed or killed innocent people.

        Does anyone discuss, for example, the fact that Adam Lanza went to that school in a car he stole after murdering the owner?

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:18:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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