Always one for lame platitudes, last week Barack Obama suggested that gun control has become too politicized and that firearms should be regulated like motor vehicles. Speaking with CBS Mornings, the former president offered something of a kinder, gentler version of his 2008 bitter clingers statement, opining,
I think somehow, and there are a lot of historical reasons for this, gun ownership in this country became an ideological issue and a partisan issue in ways that it shouldn’t be. It has become sort of a proxy for arguments about our culture wars.
Obama went on to propose that it would be appropriate to regulate firearms in a manner similar to motor vehicles, stating, “instead of just taking a very practical approach like we do let’s say for example with car safety, where we say all right we got a bunch of accidents, let’s have seat belts, let’s make cars safer let’s engineer the roads so that we prevent them.” The former president emphasized that these motor vehicle efforts are “pragmatic.”
The clip made no mention that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms and that this curtails government power to regulate firearms. Nor did the former president acknowledge that gun owners’ reluctance to tolerate any new gun control stems in part from their correct understanding that the gun control advocates’ stated goal, including that of the Biden-Harris administration, is to ban and confiscate their firearms. There was also no recognition that curtailing intentional acts committed with firearms might require a different mode of thinking than reducing motor vehicle accidents.
Flippant gun controllers often cite motor vehicle regulation as a model for firearm regulation without thinking about what that would really mean.
For starters, these gun control advocates typically support licensing gun owners and registering guns.
This may come as news to some, but a person doesn’t need a license to drive a motor vehicle in America. A person typically only needs a license to drive on the public roadways. Similarly, motor vehicles generally don’t need to be registered unless they are going to be used on the public roadways.
There are no background checks for purchasing a vehicle and using it on private property. A person can drive as fast as they want on their own private property. A 12-year-old can drive the family truck around their private property. Laws don’t mandate a person store their motor vehicle in any particular manner.
With their insistence that gun owners and guns be treated like drivers and motor vehicles, are gun control advocates conceding that firearms kept at a person’s home or business for self-defense should be wholly unregulated? Doubtful.
The closest analogue to a driver’s license in firearm regulation would be the Right-to-Carry permit – as both are for using the related items in public spaces.
Obama’s home state of Illinois allows 16-year-olds to buy vehicles and obtain a driver’s license. In California undocumented immigrants can obtain driver’s licenses. A state driver’s license is good throughout the U.S.
Would gun control advocates suggest we issue and honor carry permits in a similar manner? Never.
If one is charitable enough to the former president, perhaps one of his analogies could be interpreted to have merit. Obama noted, “let’s engineer the roads so that we prevent [car accidents].”
In the firearm context, that could mean shaping the broader society, which guns and law-abiding gun owners traverse, to be safer. This could be accomplished by vigorously prosecuting and incapacitating the small and identifiable number of violent criminals who misuse firearms. Sadly, a well-functioning criminal justice system appears to be too pragmatic a solution for Obama’s comrades.