|Sunday, August 02, 1998
Of guns, automobiles, and summer vacations
Dr. Paul Gallant & David B. Kopel
Special to the
family in your automobile, to set out across the country for summer
vacation? In America, your driver's license issued in one state is valid
in all the other 49. But what if a license issued in your home state could
only be used there? To travel from Pennsylvania to Florida, you'd need a
separate license from each state that you'd pass through. Ridiculous, huh?
But that's exactly the problem faced by vacationers and other travelers
who want to protect their family. You see, many states refuse to accept
the validity of handgun licenses issued by other states.
Thus, the father who wants to protect
his vacationing family from two-legged or four-legged predators is caught
between a rock and a hard place. In many states, the penalties for even
the simple possession of an "unlicensed" handgun -- regardless of the fact
that it's never been used in the commission of a crime -- subject its
possessor to prison terms which would make Rip Van Winkle cringe!
While firearm-prohibitionists are
always claiming that they want to "treat guns like cars," they don't
really mean it. If the anti-gun lobbyists were true to their word, they
would encourage every state to recognize every other state's gun licenses
-- just like states currently treat driver's licenses.
The real point of the "treat guns like
cars" line from the gun banners is to promote gun registration; we
register cars, so why not register guns? Of course the antis always forget
that the only cars which have to be registered on those used on public
streets. A car kept only on your own property (such as for driving around
your farm) does not need to be registered.
Inexplicably, the anti-gun groups who
want to treat cars like guns never criticize the current schizoid
treatment of firearm "violators," as compared to our treatment of traffic
Have you heard of an outcry
for legislation banning the sale, manufacture, and possession of Jaguars,
after some poor unfortunate soul was run down by a drunk driver, seated
behind the wheel of one of these killing machines? Or, how about a call to
ban Corvettes, after one of them was used by a pair of bank-robbers making
good their getaway?
offender, instead of banning the objects used to facilitate the crime, is
the logical thing to do. We crack down on drunk drivers, not on
then, why not use the same reasoning when dealing with firearm
"violators?" Perhaps it's because what the firearm-prohibitionists really
have their sights on isn't reducing criminal or negligent behavior! While
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is opposed only to drunk driving, not to all
kinds of driving, the anti-gun lobbies not only oppose gun crime, they
oppose gun possession by law-abiding people. (Especially if those
law-abiding people possess the gun for defense, rather than for sports.)
Thus, the comparison between cars and
guns is a phony pretext for more gun controls -- even though honestly
treating guns like cars would result in removing many irrational gun
Because we don't treat guns
like cars, America has a bunch of crazy laws -- laws that say the ability
to defend oneself from the vicious criminals who prey upon society stops
at the state line! While driver license reciprocity is a reality
throughout all of the 50 states, honest citizens who choose to obey the
law are prevented from exercising the most fundamental of all rights --
the right to protect one's family -- simply because of a geographical
boundary. yet the right of self-defense may be most urgently needed when a
person is in an unfamiliar area, caught very suddenly and very
unexpectedly, right smack dab in the middle of one of a vacationland's
home without it!" It's not just the catchy ending to a once-familiar
credit card commercial. To many honest, responsible Americans, those five
little words are the embodiment of a painful moral dilemma.
The Supreme Court has already ruled
that the right to interstate travel is one of the rights of American
citizenship. Just as Congress in 1964 prevented bigoted state governments
from discriminating against interstate travelers because of their race,
Congress should now act to prevent discrimination against travelers who
exercise their constitutional right to self-defense.
Optometrist Paul Gallant is a research
associate with the Independence Instituite, a free-market think tank in
Golden, Colo. Attorney David B. Koppel is the research director of the
Independence Institute and the award-winning author of several books on
firearm issues. Contact the authors via The Second Amendment Foundation,
12500 N.E. Tenth Place, Bellevue, WA 98005.
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