I was cleaning The Beast’s air filters this afternoon and I thought about the picture I took with the 5.56 AR15 inside the engine compartment of my slightly-tamer sedan. That picture was really popular in the gun world social media, because I made the point that the 450+ horsepower engine can push that car to more than twice the highest legal posted speed limit in the country… yet, no one was trying to take it away from me. At the same time, the rifle was a semi-automatic that fired a relatively weak round, but it was regularly demonized in the media and was derided throughout the non-gun-owning culture. I like Guns & Cars, and they are often compared. The caption on the first picture read something like, “Which one of these do you think I need? Hint: It doesn’t matter.”
Well, the more powerful engine in my X6M deserves a firearm chambered in 7.62×51 to make the same point… and there is really a lot more that could be said on this topic. So, with this picture as the backdrop, let’s talk about Guns & Cars: licensing, training, power and need. This was the caption posted with the picture on Instagram:
I don’t need a background check for 555+ Horsepower and I’m expected to be responsible enough to have the judgement and skill to use it without hurting myself or anyone else out in the public space. There are no areas around schools where it is prohibited. I am unaware of any private businesses that have banned supercars from their lots.
But, the Suppressed & Braced .308 AR Pistol requires all kinds of hoops to be jumped through for ownership, isn’t even legal in some States. In some where it is, the magazine isn’t. In some the suppressor isn’t legal to own and in others it is, but the local law enforcement agency may not be inclined to approve it. In the country where the engine was made, the laser module on the gun isn’t legal to possess. In some States where I can legally own the rifle and all of its components, private businesses may chose to tell me that I can’t bring it to their property because of the negative stigma firearms and firearms owners have in our culture… while in more educated and affluent circles, this ridiculously overpowered vehicle is likely to be admired and maybe even get a nod of approval. And, of course, there are “gun free zones” owned and controlled by the Government all around the US (schools, courts, etc…). I’m not even able to use this firearm for hunting in many States, despite the round’s well established efficacy and the reduced environmental impact of the suppressor. And, of course, we know that more people are killed in Car Accidents than in Gun Accidents each year.
Now, if you are a “pro-gun” person, I hope you’re cheering after all that. I also hope you will keep an open mind and really think about the next few paragraphs. For those who were rolling their eyes or even frustrated by the above statements… how did you even get here? Regardless, I’m glad you did, please also keep an open mind as you read the rest of this article.
Guns & Cars?
Comparisons between cars and vehicles work from both sides of the Gun Responsibility Coin. I can lay out the arguments I did above from the Pro-Gun-Rights side and the Pro-Gun-Control side can make other arguments. But do theirs hold up? The evidence suggests that they absolutely do make sense to the uninformed. They resonate with average people. “Average People” including the vast majority of voting Americans who aren’t compelled by hyperbolic references to oddly written portions of our foundational documents. As I have written about the past, no one can seriously think that “Shall Not be Infringed!” ends any argument about gun rights in contemporary America. It makes a nice T-Shirt and can be a great way to end a speech at a pro-gun fundraising banquet, but it’s not going to change the mind of, nor educate, anyone who starts out neutral on gun issues, let alone anyone who is pro-gun-control.
That said, the Second Amendment (and the last few decades of Federal court cases related to it) must be included in the foundation of any informed discussion on this topic. Ultimately, if everyone involved in a gun rights dialogue doesn’t accept the individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms as an equivalent civil right to Free Speech (1st Amendment) and Freedom of Privacy and from Seizure (4th Amendment), with all of the typical asterisks and potential penalties for abuse of those rights included, then there isn’t likely to be much of a dialogue. Pro-gun-rights people can argue that the NFA and GCA should be rescinded and pro-gun-control people can argue that AR15s shouldn’t be owned and there should be no private transfers… but, anyone thinking that there should literally be no restrictions (age, legal history, mental health, substance influence, etc.) on firearms possession and use or suggesting that guns should be entirely banned or only possessed by those directly in the service of the government are both so far to an unreasonable extreme as to be irrelevant. I see no real dialogue possible between those types of people. Thankfully, they are a very small segment of the population… unfortunately, they are often the loudest voices in the room. I have addressed why they should be silenced by those of us who are truly invested in forward progress in my Gun Rights & Responsibilities Manifesto.
I wish I had a solution to efficiently silence the pro-gun extremists, but I haven’t come up with one. To those who are on the extreme of Anti-Gun, I simply challenge you to work on changing The Constitution. It has been done before, there is a process. I don’t think two thirds of US States are interested in rescinding the Second Amendment, but Anti-Gunners are welcomed to try. Otherwise, we must move past the largely rhetorical debate over the wording, context or interpretation of “Shall Not be Infringed” so that we can discuss practical issues. We on the pro-gun-rights side need to be able to discuss these issues without falling back to a foundation that is too easily dismissed. That tactic has lead to incremental infringement because our constitutional arguments often fall on deaf ears until we reach the Federal Courts. If we have discussions that educate, inform and sway opinions in our workplaces, coffee shops and corner bars, we influence the larger culture in America and will have a much better chance of avoiding further infringement, as well as regaining lost rights, at the local, State and Federal level.
The most valuable people to talk to are the people in the middle. Almost all Americans are interested in gun & cars, but they are often technically ignorant of the facts in both regards. In regard to guns, it is often easy to believe (and end up supporting) the rhetoric of gun control that speaks to protecting kids and of objects designed to kill. It’s not so easy to jump on the bandwagon of the slave owning, wig wearing, “we don’t really mean all the people” Founding Fathers. We probably need to offer better arguments that make more sense to a wider variety of people with practical concerns. With that, let’s get back to the topic of Guns & Cars. Here are some things that I have heard people say and my thoughts:
This is a common question from many people, even some inside the gun world. Some States have even tied Concealed Carry Licenses to making Firearms Purchases easier. And, that is often appreciated by gun owners who might otherwise endure waiting periods or other restrictions. Of course, there is the simple Constitutional Argument, but there is also an argument to be made that any training and licensing program that was to emulate the infrastructure of our driving program would be incredibly cumbersome and expensive. It should also be pointed out that the Government has historically done a rather poor job of training new drivers, as we’ve had an abysmally high rate of accidents and deaths among our youngest drivers. We at 2AO do not agree with requiring licenses to purchase or possess firearms for a variety of reasons. Many of them are address in this set of Position Statements related to ownership and possession from gunrights.info.
I have often heard this comparison made as if it 90% of drivers don’t regularly and willingly violate posted speed limits. It is all but an actual law that you can drive 5-10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit an not worry about getting pulled over… at least not because the officer involved is actually interested in writing you a speeding ticket. The one exception might be a school zone, and that might be actually be the one area where gun law, drug law and traffic laws overlap. Everyone usually rallies when they are given the impression that they are “protecting the kids”. Rather than look at the effect on the behavior of average drivers, the actual effect that Magazine Capacity Restrictions would have in regard to preventing a single death are more appropriately compared to the behavior of a fleeing felon in a car chase: No Effect Whatsoever.
Criminals aren’t likely to follow any rules, let alone a rule as easy to violate as a capacity restriction on any popular semi-automatic firearm. I am unaware of any study crediting the magazine capacity ban enacted for an an entire decade ending in 2004 with any positive effect. If you believe there is one, please add it to the comments here or at the Position Statements related to gun features at gunfights.info.
Getting back to the guns & cars comparison: No one is calling for limiting horsepower or acceleration numbers. I remember when it was a very big deal to get to 60 miles per hour in under 5 seconds in a street car… there are tens of thousands of cars on the public roads today that get there in well under 4 seconds, including my 5000+ pound beast, even when fully loaded with several ARs and thousands of rounds of ammo on board. We know that vehicles have been weaponized many times (in Canada & Europe, for example), acceleration allows for a car to reach deadly speeds even in confined areas where crowds gather.
This is an argument that I believe is the hardest to argue against for the pro-gun-rights side. As advocates for responsibility, we should all be strong advocates for training and practice to establish and maintain skills related to whatever types of firearms ownership or use an individual would like to partake in. Whenever a video of someone behaving poorly with a gun in a range environment the gun community leaps to criticize them and the comment strings are often filled with calls for those people to not own guns or not be allowed on ranges. So, why not require that training? Again, this is an area that I have written and spoken about many times in the past. Sometimes it surprises people that, as someone who has primary generated revenue by providing training to people, I am not in favor of mandatory training. While there are a number of solid arguments against the idea, including the ever-present Constitutional One, the one that I often related to people who are outside of gun world is in regard to the way I’ve seen new gun owners step up to their own obligation to be educated in the last decade. Unlike many complacent or over-confident people who’ve been “shooting all their life” or received low to mediocre quality training as an armed professional (LE, Security or Military), people who are truly new to gun ownership in their adult years, seek out training. Look no further than the fundamental defensive shooting classes in States that have recently eliminated the need for CCW Permits. By removing the low quality permit class requirement, people looking to truly be educated find themselves in classes truly offering practical skills and advice.
Far too often, the State Mandated permit classes were irrelevant in regard to true defensive shooting and concealed carry. The NRA Basic Pistol Course, for example, doesn’t even require the student to present their gun quickly from the holster and fire a rapid string of shots into a torso sized target, the most common and basic defensive use of a firearm in public. As the curriculum is written, students aren’t even offered the opportunity to try. Yet, it’s the most common course used to get a permit in the country. The problem with mandating that type of course as “better than nothing” is human behavior. Once a new gun owner who is only purchasing a gun for protection checks the box and gets their permit, they aren’t likely to go take another “extra” class. They received a piece of paper from the government that say’s that they are “Certified”, they generally join the ranks off undereducated and overconfident. For every student that is compelled by a quality educator to get more training, 10 are probably turned off by a lowest common denominator instructor reading from a powerpoint. Instructors who talk more about the Constitution than the real risk of irresponsible firearms ownership probably chase many away as well. Removing the low bar accomplishment in mandatory training and not allowing such to be “good enough”, we make it more likely that a new firearms owner sincerely seeking out education will find a quality instructor teaching a relevant course. You may be skeptical, but we’ve seen it happen for years now in the States that have moved to “Constitutional Carry” without a permit requirement.
This is an area that reveals the technical ignorance of many people engaged on the pro-gun-control side. I recognize that “ignorant” is perceived as a pejorative term, but I am not using it as an insult here. Many people simply don’t understand the AR15, the round that it typically fires or where it fits in regard to all other options. Rather than get into minutia, we can just look at it’s most common competitor in the “assault weapon” category, the 7.62×39. This is the round traditionally fired from the most common combat weapon in the modern work, the AK47 and its derivatives. This “better” round is hardly ever used by spree killers. I believe it is as likely a ramification of the popularization of the AR15 as the “weapon of choice” by the media as any understanding of the weapon’s capabilities that leads murderers to use it. There is also the factor of it being commonly available. If another gun were as popular, it might displace the AR15 and more people might be killed in any typical incident. In every practical metric, it is more powerful than the AR15’s 5.56×45 round, being significantly heavier and carrying more kinetic energy into a target at less than 100 yards in almost every appropriately compared loading. Obviously, the distances at which people are most often killed by malicious shooters (home invasions, armed robbery, assaults, domestic violence, active shooters (especially school shooters), etc.) are well within 100 yards. The 2017 Vegas Killings and the 1966 Texas Tower incidents are notable anomalies to the close range nature of most murders, only one of which involved the 5.56 AR15. In that incident, Las Vegas, over 1000 rounds were fired with 58 people being killed. In the Texas incident, the killer used rifles shooting heavier bullets. He had a lethality rate almost twice as high with only about 150 shots being fired. The Texas Shooting did last ten times as long as the one in Las Vegas. There are really only two areas that the AR15 round might be thought to typically be a superior choice for someone looking to kill others: you can carry more rounds on your person because they are lighter and most people can shoot them faster because they produce less recoil (a factor of the lighter bullet). In regard to cars & guns, we might look at a modern powerful and efficient V8 engine with over 400 horsepower compared to an electric motored sports sedan. The latter will be faster off the line in a drag race, but the V8 can travel well in excess of the posted speed limit for a much longer distance between required stops.
Do you need that kind of gun (car)?
What started out as a cool picture comparing guns & cars and a funny meme a year ago has now been revisited as a lengthy article covering a variety of discussion points on Gun Responsibility and why we really can’t, nor should we, compare guns and cars when we talk about regulation, licensing, training or registration. Ultimately, it is true that Pro-Gun-Control types don’t have the US Constitution on their side, but I have another bottom-line argument in regard to why I they don’t really have ground to stand on when they talk about whether or not I “need” a gun like the one pictured when compared to the engine in my ridiculous vehicle. As much as I love it, I can’t actually make up a reason why I might ever need that much crazy fast acceleration or eerily unexplainable handling in such a heavy vehicle to protect my Family or my Country. I can, and have, thought of many scenarios where a firearm like the one in my picture could be used very efficiently to do either. That is the reason that 2AO exists. It’s reason the I will continue to fight for our rights to keep and bear arms, regardless of how likely that need is or readily it is acknowledged by others.
[NOTE: While Rob does not have a fund to help him afford almost-super-cars, 2AO does have a DONATE BUTTON to help us fight to educate people about guns, gun rights and gun responsibilities!]