There's no comparison between guns and cars

There's no comparison between guns and cars
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Anyone who engages in debate over the internet, particularly regarding guns and the Second Amendment, will eventually come face-to-face with someone who tries to use cars to prove a point. They’ll cite all kinds of things we do with cars and ask why we can’t do the same with guns.

Of course, they miss the fact that guns and cars aren’t even remotely on the same playing field to start with, that guns are already more tightly controlled than guns as it is, and that driving itself has been determined by the courts to be a privilege, not a right.

But sure, let’s make that comparison.

However, I’ve come across an argument here and there recently that warrants some special attention. Especially since it popped up in a letter to the editor in Cleveland.

Of course, the gun, on its own, is not responsible for violence. But just like we should keep cars out of the hands of drunken people, so should we keep guns out of the hands of unstable people.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that’s the argument.

And it’s popping up enough that it appears at least some folks that this is some kind of “gotcha” point. It ain’t.

Let’s start with keeping guns out of the hands of unstable people. This is often something people routinely argue we should do.

The thing is, we do. There are already laws in place for removing someone’s right to keep and bear arms due to their mental illness. Now, it’s a high bar, to be sure, but it should be. You don’t get to strip someone of their rights because they’ve been feeling a little sad, for crying out loud.

So that’s already in place.

Yet in contrast, we don’t actually keep cars out of the hands of drunken people.

Honestly, I challenge the author of this letter to find one law that removes cars from drunk people’s hands.

There are laws against drunk driving, sure, but that’s not remotely the same. Even untreated alcoholics can lawfully purchase a car.

In fact, there’s no requirement to have a driver’s license before purchasing a car. Why would there be? There’s not actually a requirement to have a license to operate a vehicle in the first place, only operate it on public roads. If you’ve got a thousand acres in the middle of nowhere with miles of roads, you can drive all day and all night there without a license if you want, just so long as you stay off the roads.

Why do you think farm kids learn to drive at 10 years of age?

Further, there’s never a background check to buy a car. You could have 50 DUIs and buy a car and literally no one will do a damn thing about it. They don’t care. It’s perfectly lawful for you to do so.

So how exactly are we keeping cars out of drunk hands?

We’re not.

You see, people want to make these idiotic comparisons because they actually think they’re making a valid point. They don’t know how little they understand the differences between guns and cars.

To buy a gun from a dealer, you actually DO have to have a photo ID, unlike buying a car for one. You also undergo a criminal background check before buying a gun, also unlike a car.

Your record of 50 DUIs won’t prevent you from buying a car, but the fight that stemmed from a toxic relationship 20 years ago just might, even if you’ve kept your nose clean since then.

At the end of the day, there’s really no part of this very simple argument that holds up to scrutiny other than guns don’t cause deaths in and of themselves. That’s the only thing the author got right, and it’s a miracle she was able to pull that off.