Gun Ownership is Regulated More than Critics Ever Admit

ssshhhPerhaps the most boring thing that gun-controllers throw at advocates of the right to bear arms is the assertion, almost guaranteed to rear its doltish head in any conversation about the Second Amendment, that it is easier in the United States to own and operate a gun than it is to own and operate a car. This contention most often takes the form of a rhetorical question. “Every state requires its residents to pass a test in order to drive a vehicle,” its adherents ask. “So why doesn’t it require them to take a test before they can own a lethal weapon?”

As is typical, this inquiry misses the glaring truth that keeping and bearing arms is explicitly recognized as an unalienable right in the country’s Constitution, whereas driving a car is a privilege that is subject to the plenary powers of the states. The 2008 Heller decision correctly recognized the right to bear arms as an individual right, and the subsequent McDonald ruling applied that right to the states. No such guarantees apply to motor vehicles, nor should they. Nevertheless, in almost all states, in order to carry a weapon, one does in fact need to take a test and acquire a license. The “keep” part of the Second Amendment is fairly unregulated, yes; but the “bear” part? Not so much.

As a result of a 20-year trend toward liberalization, in which many states now have some sort of concealed-carry regime, and of the president’s recent push for gun control, concealed-carry applications are soaring. A Wall Street Journal survey conducted this month revealed that “early figures for 2013 show that many states are on pace for their biggest year ever.” This has provoked the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth from the gun-control crowd, as well a new round of witless predictions that the rise in the number of armed Americans will inexorably lead to a national Shootout at the OK Corral.

This is a peculiar reaction. Certainly, the anti-gun brigade doesn’t want people carrying guns at all. But if free people are going to — and make no mistake, they are — then I daresay that their opponents ought to welcome the prerequisite accreditation process. In almost every state in the union, a concealed-carry permit is issued only after the applicant has undergone a training course of some description. In some states, the rules are so strict that even ex-cops and military veterans are required to participate; and in Connecticut, one needs to go through such a course in order just to buy a firearm.

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I live in New York City, which for some reason will issue concealed-carry permits only to those who can afford armed bodyguards. As I am neither famous nor a politician, I am not likely to be considered worthy. Still, as there is nothing to stop…



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