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Musings: Turning a thought around - Habemus plus vis computatoris quam Deus
Ramblings of a Unix ronin
Musings: Turning a thought around

One of the perennial arguments in the gun-control debate is pro-gun-control demagogues saying that guns should be licensed just like cars, expecting their listeners to have never thought abut how the two actually compare and thus convince people that still more gun laws are a good idea.  Gun owners naturally turn around and point out embarrassing things such as, if guns were licensed just like cars are:

  • anyone could own as many guns, of whatever type, as they could afford;
  • Shooter's Ed would be a mandatory class in high school (which, actually, wouldn't be a bad idea);
  • Not only would automatic weapons be readily available, they'd be the default, and manually operated actions such as bolt or lever actions would be uncommon;
  • You could legally take your gun with you to any public place with no special permit required beyond your license, and people wouldn't look funny at you for doing so;
  • ...

Well, you get the idea.  However, it occurred to me this morning to turn the argument around.  Let's look at the other side of it.

What if cars were controlled just like guns now are?

Well, let's consider some of the implications.

  • In Washington DC, you couldn't own a car at all, unless it was "grandfathered" in or you were an elected politician.  New York would be almost as bad.
  • You could possess a car on your own property, but in most states, you would need a special permit in order to operate it on any public road, and if you live within city limits, you'd better have a damned good reason to operate it even on your own property.  Some states would have a policy of always issuing the permit unless they had legitimate reason not to, but others would deny the permit for arbitrary reasons and not be required to tell you the reason, and many jurisdictions in such states would have a policy of just saying "No."  (Unless, of course, you'd contributed a large sum of money to the Sheriff's re-election campaign.  Could be $5,000, could be $10,000, could be $20,000 ... depends.  How much money do you have?)
  • You'd also be able to operate it at licensed race tracks, of course.  However, in many states, you couldn't drive it there, you'd have to transport it in a locked box trailer, and it had better be completely unfueled, both directions.  In some states, if it was found during a routine stop that you had fuel in the same trailer, the car would be considered fueled and you'd be arrested.  How you haul the trailer is your own problem ... oxen?  20 mule team?
  • You couldn't own an SUV.  No-one needs a car that big and powerful.
  • No sports cars.  No-one needs a car that fast.
  • You couldn't own a minivan.  No-one needs a vehicle with that much capacity (except the city, of course, which would continue to operate its bus fleets, government exempting itself as it always does from the laws its citizens have to follow).
  • You couldn't own a vehicle with an automatic transmission.  Everyone knows automatic transmissions are designed solely to make as many gearchanges as possible with a single shove of the gas pedal.
  • You couldn't own that subcompact 58mpg hybrid any more.  Everyone "knows" cars that small aren't safe.  There might be some domestic models (yeah, right!), but all imports would be banned.
  • Motorcycles, even more so; they'd all be banned.  Just way too easy to have one and not be seen.  (Most motorcyclists would agree with this.  We think it's WAY too easy to own and operate a motorcycle and "not be seen".  Many motorcyclists get killed every year by people who "didn't see" them.)  And even your bicycle would get funny looks, expecially if it's something unusual like a recumbent.
  • The Mayor and your Senator would somehow still have no difficulty continuing to operate their chauffeur-driven limos.  But what else is new?
  • It would be illegal in some states to have a car possessing more than two of, say, a CD player, a sunroof, a trailer hitch, a rear spoiler, alloy wheels, racing stripes, a convertible top, tinted windows, tuner decals, or an aftermarket exhaust system (even if it performed no differently than stock).  In some states, certain accessories such as fog lights or convertible tops would be simply illegal, period.  Your state might also have a specific list by name of cars you weren't allowed to own for more or less arbitrary, largely cosmetic reasons, and might also vaguely prohibit ownership of any vehicle "substantially similar" to one on the list.  Naturally, it would be your responsibility to find out from the state DMV whether a specific car was actually legal for you to own or not, and if they changed their minds later, they might arrest you anyway despite having already told you your car was legal.  (They might repeat this cycle several times.)
  • It would be a felony to leave your car unsecured where a minor could get access to it.
  • In some states, if someone stole your car and committed a crime with it, you could go to jail.  Even if you didn't go to jail, you'd never get the car back.  State law would most likely require that it be crushed.
  • Most car crimes would be committed with Yugos and Ford Pintos.  BMW 750s, Porsches and Ferraris would be banned anyway because they were the "preferred vehicle of criminals and gang members".  Then after they were banned, the cry would be that the "preferred vehicles of criminals and gang members" were now the Ford Expedition and Dodge Ramcharger.  Most car crimes would continue to be committed with Yugos and Pintos.
  • Some cities would undertake police sweeps of low-income housing projects, during which all vehicles found would be confiscated, legally owned or otherwise.  It would be explained that "those people" just weren't to be trusted with cars.  After all, someone could get killed.
  • Not just anyone would be able to sell cars any more.  Selling cars, including your own, would require a special Federal license, possession of which would require accepting that the Federal Department of Motor Vehicles could demand to inspect your vehicle storage, your books, and your papers at any time.  If they felt your storage arrangements were inadequately secure, they could seize your vehicles and arrest you.  You might get them back, eventually, but it's likely you'd find they'd been defaced by chiselling an evidence tag number into the hood.
  • You couldn't sell your own car any more unless you were a licensed dealer.  All car sales would have to go through Federally licensed dealers.  And you couldn't purchase a car or transfer the title via mail, either.  If you bought a car for your wife, son or daughter, that would be termed a straw man purchase and you could go to jail.
  • You'd also need a special Federal permit to collect unusual or exotic cars, even if you never drove them.  The same inspection law would apply as for a dealer.  The Federal Department of Motor Vehicles might make a no-knock raid on you at any time for more or less arbitrary reasons.  If they didn't like your face or were having a bad day, they might destroy random examples of your collection of Lamborghinis trying to provoke you into doing something they could arrest you for.  Or they might just shoot you because they thought the TV remote in your hand was a remote starter for one of your cars.
  • In some states, any misdemeanor you should happen to commit while in possession of a motor vehicle, even if the vehicle was not involved and had nothing to do with the misdemeanor, would automatically be elevated to a felony.
  • If you were convicted of any felony, or if you'd ever been involuntarily confined in a psychiatric care facility, you would never be allowed to own, operate or have access to a motor vehicle again, even someone else's, unless you successfully petitioned a superior court for restoration of your driving right.
  • Some states would require that you leave a sample "fingerprint" of your tire treads on file with the police department.  Supporting this program would cost a large chunk of tax money that would come out of your pocket.  The fact that after a thousand miles or so of normal driving, your tire tracks wouldn't even look like that any more, would never even be considered.  This program would never solve a single crime, but the state Department of Justice would continue to argue that it was a vital program that must be continued every year.
  • Other states would float plans to invidually chemically "tag" each gallon of gas sold and track, gallon by gallon, who it was sold to.  Concerns that these chemical taggants could react adversely with the fuel and cause fires, or even explosions, would be dismissed out of hand.  From time to time, anti-driver politicians would float plans to tax gasoline at a rate of 10,000% to discourage driving.

Again, you get the idea.  Right?

Oh, and all of this would be done "for the sake of the children."

Current Music: Hawkwind - Motorhead

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radarrider From: radarrider Date: March 13th, 2005 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
One word: Brilliant. Mind if I post this elseweb with appropriate credit?
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 13th, 2005 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Be my guest.
ilcylic From: ilcylic Date: March 13th, 2005 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love you.

I'm so linking this in guns and my own journal.

unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 13th, 2005 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
How will we tell cymrullewes and spsh? :)
ilcylic From: ilcylic Date: March 13th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'm allowed to love other people. ;)

I dunno what you're going to do...

cymrullewes From: cymrullewes Date: March 13th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! Two more adults to look after the girls. Now can I have twin boys? :-)
spookshow1313 From: spookshow1313 Date: March 13th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm definitely linking this to my journal, if you don't mind.

I moseyed in after ilcylic posted in guns.
world_wanderer From: world_wanderer Date: March 13th, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ditto. Hope you don't mind. I think TFL and THR might be interested too.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 13th, 2005 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
All are welcome. Please link freely.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 13th, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Welcome to my little corner of the 'net. :)
saintofkizzles From: saintofkizzles Date: March 13th, 2005 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I love this. Mind if I link it in my LJ?
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 13th, 2005 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
By all means, please do.
philyopain From: philyopain Date: March 13th, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

You forgot

If you own more then one vehicle, on discovery it will be described in newspapers as an "arsenal". The article will also emphasize that some of you vehicles had same kind of super-charged engine as those used in bank robberies.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 13th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: You forgot

Absolutely. "But wait, there's more!" Research to uncover what else would bite you in your state is encouraged.
k_crow From: k_crow Date: March 13th, 2005 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I added this one to my memories under Perspective. It will be an intersting illustration the next time I'm discussing gun control with someone.
bulldawg From: bulldawg Date: March 14th, 2005 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent write-up! May I use this on my website, credited to you, of course?
ilcylic From: ilcylic Date: March 14th, 2005 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)
*blink blink*

Wow. You might want to consider some slightly higher contrast colors, and slightly larger fontsize. It's a little hard to read. :)

bulldawg From: bulldawg Date: March 14th, 2005 07:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually find that it's pretty easy on the eyes. I don't like a bunch of fancy-schmancy colors, graphics, etc bogging down websites, so I tend to keep that sort of stuff in mind when deciding on my colors & content. I probably use the site more than anyone (use the links pages frequently... sort of my bookmarks/favorites), so it works out well for me. :)
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 14th, 2005 09:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I find the font size fine, but agree that the contrast is a little marginal. Looke like it'll bear some reading when I get home from work and have the time, though.

And nice knotwork on that icon. :) I think I'd have tied the border together a little tighter myself, but...

(Note to self: need to find a good drawing program. I really miss the Mac version of Aldus Freehand -- the Windows "port" sucked.)
bulldawg From: bulldawg Date: March 14th, 2005 11:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll confess the knotwork isn't mine. Just a random image from the web.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 14th, 2005 09:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Be my guest.
chairtomorrow From: chairtomorrow Date: March 14th, 2005 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank You for This

Linked it to my page as well.

You're a very wise person.
doctorogenki From: doctorogenki Date: March 14th, 2005 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awesome post, put in my gun related memories.

OT: I like your LJ layout and need a change of scenery in my own layout. How do I make mine like yours?
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 14th, 2005 05:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a fairly extensively modified Digital Multiplex S2 layout. Unfortunately, I don't yet grok the layout system deeply enough to take what I now have and make it into a new, base-level, subclassable layout in its own right.

If you want, I could mail you a copy of my modifications.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 14th, 2005 05:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, if anyone would care to tell me how to do that ....
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 14th, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
(uh .... make a new top-level layout from it, that is, not mail the modifications.)
doctorogenki From: doctorogenki Date: March 14th, 2005 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
If thats what you can do, by all means...
klaatuwolf From: klaatuwolf Date: March 16th, 2005 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you don't mind, I'm gonna link to this in my LJ as well, along with forwarding a copy to a couple of web sites that I read. With appropriate acknowledgement of course.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: March 16th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
As in all previous requests, be my guest.
(Deleted comment)
unixronin From: unixronin Date: May 6th, 2005 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I read through your arguments against licensing guns like cars.

Uh, if that's what you thought I was arguing, then you may have misunderstood. My intention was to illustrate that the "Why aren't guns licensed as strictly as cars" rhetoric beloved of the gun-"control" (which is to say, gun-ban) lobby is complete and utter bullshit that doesn't stand up to the most elementary scrutiny.

You said "anyone could own as many guns, of whatever type, as they could afford" so how many guns can you have now? Is there some kind of legal limit?

Well, in Washington DC it's "None"; in Morton Grove, Illinois, it's "No handguns"; in New York City, it almost may as well be "None", and they'd prefer it was; and in several other nations outside the US, notably the UK, it's now "None." (In Jamaica, you can be imprisoned for life for possession of a single non-functional round of .22 rimfire ammunition, even if you don't possess a gun that you could shoot it in if it was live.) More to the point, if the gun-control advocates who like to use the "Why aren't guns licensed as strictly as cars are" rhetoric had their way, the quota would be "None" throughout the US (except for certain of the libveral pro-gun-control elite like Dianne Feinstein and Ted Kennedy, who are so much more evolved and wise than the rest of us and can be trusted with guns even when the police and the military can't. How do we know? Well, they own guns, and they keep telling us no-one should be allowed to ....)

You said "Not only would automatic weapons be readily available, they'd be the default" but I can't figure out why. Maybe because you are compairing guns to cars?

Granted, I was taking a little possible license there, making the analogy of automatic fire (just pull the trigger and hold it) to automatic transmissions (just step on the gas and hold it).

You said "You could legally take your gun with you to any public place with no special permit required beyond your license, and people wouldn't look funny at you for doing so" Why would that change?

Well, granted, there are certain places you physically can't take your car (say, inside a restaurant, or into the swimming pool). But no-one bats an eye at you taking your car to work, or to the supermarket, or to a restaurant, or to church; no-one will arrest you if you drive or park your car within a thousand feet of a school; and so on.

The issue of "why wouldn't there be places you can't take a gun" is a thorny one. On the one hand, in many states a restaurant owner (for example) may post a sign barring anyone from bringing a gun on the premises (a sign, of course, which only the law-abiding will obey). In others, state law prohibits anyone from bringing a firearm into any establishment that serves alcohol. (Both of these are analogous to pedestrian-only streeets from which motor vehicles are banned.) So ... suppose you're licensed to carry a concealed weapon, for any of a wide range of legitimate reasons. Are you now forced to leave your gun in your car? Or does the restaurant have to provide a way for you to check it at the door along with your hat and coat? If the restaurant requires you to leave it in your car, is the restaurant liable if you're mugged between the restaurant and your car, or if your car is broken into and the gun stolen while you're eating dinner?

This is, however, a much more complex issue than that which I was addressing with this point, which is quite simply that in most states, it is not enough that you legally own a firearm (and have any necessary permits to do so); in order to have that gun physically in your possession anywhere other than on your own property or at a shooting range, you must have a separate permit issued by the local police chief or sheriff, which that officer is in many states under no legal obligation to issue you and can refuse for any reason (and doesn't even have to tell you why). Good luck if you live in, for example, the city and county of San Francisco, in which there are exactly seven such permits extant, all seven held by personal friends of Senator Feinstein.
(Deleted comment)
olafthunderfoot From: olafthunderfoot Date: May 7th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
it's pretty easy to get a CCW in okieland, i researched it when i was considering moving back. but i came to my senses and moved here instead.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: May 7th, 2005 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
As much a free-fire zone as Oakland seems to be, I suppose that's not as great a surprise as it otherwise might have been.

Of course, I know someone, a licensed gun dealer and gunshop owner, with a Santa Clara County CCW who says it wasn't that difficult to get ... and I know another person whose wife, who worked in the newsroom at KTVU48 near the San Jose downtown and had to walk two blocks back to the closest place she could park her car, at 2am in a very unsavory neighborhood, couldn't even get the application. When she called San Jose PD and asked how to get the application form, they asked her, "Have you been raped yet?" She answered, "No, and I'd just as soon not be." They laughed out loud and hung up on her.

So, experiences can vary widely ....
unixronin From: unixronin Date: May 7th, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm, wait ... Olaf Thunderfoot ... "back to" Oakland ... you wouldn't be the Olaf of the SCA, of the Sacramento, muggers, battleaxe, "BLOOD FOR ODIN!!!" story, would you...?
olafthunderfoot From: olafthunderfoot Date: May 7th, 2005 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
nope, i've only been to sacramento once to visit family and i was only 12 at the time. i'm more likely to atend a renne faire then an sca event.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: May 7th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Incidentally, Spokane was my stomping grounds for about 7 years ... my parents still live there.
olafthunderfoot From: olafthunderfoot Date: May 7th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
spokane needs to be stomped by a monty python foot that's about 2,000,000 times bigger!
unixronin From: unixronin Date: May 7th, 2005 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Has it gotten that bad? Sure, the principal culture is "cowboy wanna-be", but it was still a decent enough place to live when I lived there. (Spokane Valley, anyway ... my parents' place is in the south Valley, out Brown's Mountain way.)
olafthunderfoot From: olafthunderfoot Date: May 7th, 2005 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
the cowboys now have mullets and race ricers. the local culture is apparently american idol, bud light and stupidity. it's almost as bad as tulsa was.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: May 7th, 2005 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh gawd ...... it has gone downhill. That's frightening.
olafthunderfoot From: olafthunderfoot Date: May 8th, 2005 02:59 am (UTC) (Link)
~hands you a bottle of Henry's~ yup
olafthunderfoot From: olafthunderfoot Date: May 7th, 2005 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh yeah, i'd love to hear the story.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: May 7th, 2005 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
OK, I just wondered if it might have been you. I thought probably not, since jilara isn't on your friends list, but you never know ....

OK, the story goes like this. Oakland SCA'er with a Viking persona, Olaf somethingorother if memory serves, has just left an SCA revel at the Masonic Lodge in Sacramento and is walking back to his car. He still has his SCA garb on, including his mail shirt and a cloak over the top. About two blocks short of his car, he hears two sets of footsteps behind him, gaining slowly. He speeds up slightly, and a few seconds later, the footsteps speed up too. He speeds up a little more, and the footsteps behind him speed up. "Uh-huh," he thinks to himself, doing some mental estimation and calculating that they're going to catch up to him just a moment after he reaches his car.

So he casually reaches into his pocket, inconspicuously takes out his car keys, sorts out the trunk key and gets it ready for use, and a few feet short of his car he steps off the sidewalk, walks straight to the trunk, turns the key, throws the trunk lid open, and reaches into the trunk just as the two goblins come up behind him. The first gets as far as "Give us your wallet, mother--" before he turns around with the two-handed battle-axe that he's just grabbed from the trunk, cloak swirling open to show the mail shirt, with his best Viking berserker war-face on, screaming "BLOOD FOR ODIN!!!"

(Naturally, the two would-be muggers fled....)

The footnote to this story is that apparently a couple of weeks later, Olaf was in the same area again, again in SCA garb, this time under a mundane raincoat, and stopped off at a convenience store for something or other. While at the counter paying for his purchase, he felt something odd in his back, and turned around curiously to see one of the two goblins who'd tried to mug him previously, looking very wide-eyed and shocked. As Wonder Boy took to his heels again, Olaf reached behind himself and felt around his back, only to find a switchblade jammed firmly in his mail shirt.

So presumably there's two punks somewhere in Sacramento who have recurring nightmares about a maniac Viking who is immune to weapons and doesn't feel pain....
olafthunderfoot From: olafthunderfoot Date: May 7th, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
ye gawds, that's hilarious. i'd trade a hole in my raincoat for a switchblade any day. i'm wondering if the store cams caught it on tape.
outtamyskull From: outtamyskull Date: May 7th, 2005 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Totally effing hilarious.
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