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If Guns Were Like Drugs

I’ve seen an assertion by gun folks that guns are the most regulated product out there.  While Sugarmann’s assertion that guns are unregulated is ridiculous and untrue, and guns are really no less regulated than most other consumer products, I can assure you that drugs are a far more regulated product than firearms.  Let me give you an idea of what the world would be like if guns were regulated like drugs.  Josh would like this world.

  1. Before you ever handed a hunting gun over to a person outside the research environment, you’d have to do extensive testing on animals to verify that the gun is effective for the purposes you market it for, and is safe enough for even the most ignorant person to use safely.
  2. Once you get permission to allow humans to test the gun, that’s just the beginning.  The studies would be outrageously expensive, and require extensive field testing with thousands of hunters and shooters before final approval for public sale would be granted.  The process would take years.  Any evidence that the gun did things other than its stated purpose would be grounds for denying final approval.
  3. Once approved for human use, the FDA ATF will still exercise considerable control over the marketing of the gun.  If your testing shows that it does effectively kill deer, you will be able to market it for that purpose.  You won’t be able to claim it kills elk unless you’ve tested it’s effective at killing elk.  A hunter may take an elk with it, but as a manufacturer, you’d be limited in marketing it only for approved purposes.  Useful for self-defense?  Not sure how you’d even test that.  I guess the police would be out of luck.
  4. Making your own guns and ammunition would be a very serious offense.  Doubly so if you give some to your friends while shooting at the range one day.
  5. Once approved, you’d need special permission from a professional hunter and or professional shooter in order to make any purchase.  Said professional would only be able to prescribe approve just enough gun for your stated purpose, and federal law would prohibit you from ever transferring it to someone else, or using it for a purpose other than the stated purpose, unless under the advice of a professional.  Said professional will evaluate your need carefully, and will be reluctant to approve firearms they deem you don’t need.
  6. These professionals would be closely monitored by other regulators, who will ask questions if they approve too many guns, or approve too many of certain types of guns deemed dangerous.  These professionals and regulators will consider wanting too many guns too often to be a sign of illness, requiring medical evaluation and possible institutionalization.
  7. Firearms manufacturers would have to extensive records documenting every aspect of the manufacturing process, distribution, and would need to keep detailed records of adverse reactions accidents, shoots, suicides, etc.  The FDA ATF might demand follow up studies to help them understand why these things are happening.
  8. Because the cost of complying with the regulatory requirements are so high, your average firearm will cost $20,000.  Dealers won’t want to stock certain types of popular firearms, because selling them attracts too much attention from regulators.  A lot of firearms will look and do the same things as many of the other manufacturers because making something original will be deemed too risky.
  9. Regulators would have broad authority to remove any guns, ammunition, or accessories from the market that they deem to be no longer safe or effective.  If a gun that claims 1MOA accuracy ever shot with 1.5MOA accuracy, it might be grounds to shut down the manufacturer and stop production entirely.
  10. The good news is that you’d be able to carry your gun around with you, even on a plane!  But don’t get too excited, because the authorities will have broad authority in search and seizure in order to try to rid society of the scourge of drugs guns.  Better carry around that prescription approval certificate around with you.  But none of that would matter anyway, because any gun that would be useful for self-defense would be illegal, since there’s no way to safely test on humans!

So you can see, this would be Josh Sugarmann’s dream world.  It wouldn’t be total prohibition, which I know he thinks would be better, but it’d be awfully close.  People go through all this because drugs help them be able to continue living their lives, but how many would to get a gun?  Would it even be worth it?  Guns are very regulated, but drugs take the gold medal when it comes to regulation, hands down.

8 Responses to “If Guns Were Like Drugs”

  1. Pete says:

    But what you missed is that the .gov will subsidize the costs of the firearms, ala the Medicare discount drug plan. We’ll all get discount cards we can present at our local FFL!

    Walmart will enact its plan to hold down prices of common calibers:
    $4 for a month’s supply of 5.56mm!
    $10 for a 90 days supply of .308!

  2. BillH says:

    That’s only if you don’t care if it’s generic Pete (white box, black lettered BULLETS on the end of it). If you want Gold Dot or Gold Medal Match you have to go to the snooty place and wait in line, And then your discount card won’t cover it.

    Hey. That’s what we have now… when was the last time you found good .45 or 5.56 at Wally’s?

  3. Sebastian says:

    Obama would be talking about price controls on guns in my scenario :)

  4. Sebastian says:

    Actually, the thought of people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lamenting that it’s too difficult for people to afford guns, and thus we need massive government spending and price controls would almost be worth all the other bullshit.

    But not really. It is amusing to think about though.

  5. Reputo says:

    I agree with your assertion if you change firearms to ammunition (billions of pills are sold each year, and billions of rounds of ammunition are sold). One positive that would come from regulating ammunition like drugs is that they would give you a free dispenser (i.e. firearm) whenever you picked up your ammunition. So if there was some way we could enact this for say 4 years only (with no chance of renewal), then I might be in favor for the sole purpose of building up my arsenal. Think about it, instead of the pharmacist asking if you want a syringe or a spoon, the dealer would ask if you want a Sig or a Glock? Not only that, we wouldn’t have to fill out any ridiculous forms for the firearms (just the ammunition). Best of all, I bet most pharmacies would give you extra syringes if you asked, so in our case you could get matching Glock’s for the whole family as long as you only used your ammunition in your Glock. This has some possibilities…

  6. Ride Fast says:

    […] Regulating guns […]

    Excellent post, Sebastian. I added some info on the validation and QA of the manufacturing equipment, especially automation.

  7. Chas Clifton says:

    On the other hand, you would be able to drive into Mexico and find clean, brightly lit “farmacias,” I mean gun shops, in every border town selling cheaply.

    Senior citizens would take bus rides to Canada to buy government-subsidized guns.

    And generics would be manufactured in India …

  8. Matt Groom says:

    It sounds like Europe.

    Certainly, the moral of the story is that we have too much government regulation in all aspects of our daily lives already. Any attempts to increase regulatory power of any branch or department of the federal government is evil, pure and simple.

    I’m willing to make a firm bet that more people have died due to the over regulation of the pharmaceutical industry and the war on (some) drugs than have ever died from the incorrect use of illicit substances or the unforeseen side effects of prescribed medications. Drugs don’t kill people, Government KILLS people.

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