You won’t find a right to drive or even the right to possess transportation in the U.S. Constitution, but that doesn’t stop anti-gunners from erroneously comparing motor vehicles to firearms on a regular basis. The most recent example comes from Brady’s Kris Brown, who claimed without attribution that a sizeable percentage of gun owners in Colorado are exercising their Second Amendment rights without having first gone through some kind of formal firearm training.
1/3 of Colorado’s firearm owners haven’t taken a safety course. Make it make sense.
To drive a car, you have to practice and pass a test. To own a gun, you should do the same. It’s not rocket science, folks.
— Kris Brown | President, bradyunited.org (@KrisB_Brown) January 30, 2024
Brown’s post was quickly ratioed, with Second Amendment advocates pointing out that there’s no right to drive and that it’s perfectly legal in Colorado to own a motor vehicle without possessing a driver’s license or passing a test. Others asked Brown if she’d support a “Gun Owners Ed” class in high school, like the driver’s ed courses that are routinely offered to students; a question that Brown has so far declined to answer.
I have a slightly different take; namely, that we treat infractions involving firearms far more seriously than those involving motor vehicles. If Brown really wants to compare the two, then she’s ultimately advocating for fewer gun laws, not to mention far less enforcement.
Does Brown believe we should ban young adults from buying certain “high-powered” automobiles, or maybe prohibiting driving for anyone under the age of 21? What about making parents wait three days before they’re allowed to hand over the keys to their vehicle to their kid? When someone is deemed by a judge to be danger to themselves or others in a one-sided court hearing, should we take away their cars or just their guns? Should car companies be sued for marketing their vehicles in a way that might be appealing to minors? Should home-built vehicles be prohibited? Should medical marijuana patients be barred by federal law from getting behind the wheel, even if they haven’t imbibed in hours, days, or weeks?
Brown believes that lawful gun owners should be subjected to every one of those provisions, none of which apply to motorists. But it’s not just the fact that there are far more laws regulating gun owners than car owners. The penalties for driving without a license are typically far less severe than what happens if you possess a firearm without a license in the handful of states that require one.
In New York, for instance, driving without a license is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 15 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $300. Carrying a gun without a license, on the other hand, is a Class E felony punishable by up to 48 months in prison.
In Massachusetts, possessing a gun without a license can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, with a potential two-year prison sentence attached. If you’re caught carrying a gun in public without a license you’ll face a mandatory minimum 18-month sentence. Driving without a license in Massachusets, meanwhile, is subject to a fine of no more than $1,000 and/or ten days in jail for a first offense.
This disparity is seen in virtually every state that requires a license to own a firearm. In Maryland, possession of a firearm without the proper license is a misdemeanor, but one that comes with a potential three-year prison sentence. Get caught driving without a license? At most you’ll be hit with a $500 fine and a maximum 60 days in jail.
Hawaii imposes a potential five-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine for possessing an unregistered gun, but driving without a license is punishable by 30 days behind bars and a $1,000 fine. Connecticut’s law is similar; a potential five-year prison sentence for possessing a gun without a license, while driving without a license is subject to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $200 fine.
Do you think Brown would be on board with any of those states reducing the penalty for possessing a gun without a license to bring it in line with the punishment for driving without a license? Yeah, I don’t think so either. The goal of the anti-gun movement, after all, is to make gun ownership non-viable for as many Americans as possible, and their basic strategy revolves around imposing stiff sentences on non-violent, possessory “crimes” carved out of our right to keep and bear arms.
I don’t believe for a second that Kris Brown really wants to treat gun ownership like we treat owning a motor vehicle. What I do believe is that she and other anti-gunners would prefer that keeping or bearing arms is treated as seriously as trafficking in fentanyl or heroin… they’re just too dishonest to admit it.