Prove To Me That Unlicensed Guns Owned By Untrained People Are Actually Dangerous

May 10, 2018 · 7 min read

The gun people argue that if you can’t prove that making gun owners pass a background check will materially reduce the number of innocent people being shot that there is no reason for background checks at all.

By David Grace (

Lately, some of the gun people have argued against gun registration and background checks with the demand: “Prove that it’s not just as safe for untrained, potentially criminal and mentally ill people to be able to buy unregistered guns as it is for only trained, non-felons and non-crazy people to be able to buy registered guns.

Their argument is that if you can’t prove that it’s materially less safe to let anyone who wants to buy a firearm get one without any licensing or training than it is to require would-be gun purchasers to be non-felons, not mentally ill and trained in the proper storage and use of firearms, then it’s wrong to require a background check and require that a gun purchaser demonstrate a reasonable level of firearm competence.

It’s just point and shoot, right? How hard can that be?

Why Require Anyone To Have Any Training For Any Activity?

By that logic, unless you can prove that would-be drivers having to pass a driving test will make the highways materially safer, people should be allowed to drive without getting a driver’s license.

Now, before you say that the driving a car is not protected by the 2nd Amendment, we’re not talking about the difference in the state’s legal ability to regulate owning guns versus the state’s legal ability to regulate driving cars.

We’re talking about the gun-people’s argument that without proof to the contrary, by default it’s just as safe for untrained, unlicensed people to do something potentially dangerous (drive a car, use a gun) as it is for trained, licensed people to do that same thing.

If it’s true that by default we should consider it safe for any untrained person off the street to be able to carry a firearm, then it follows that by default, we should consider it equally safe for any untrained person to be able to drive a car.

Does that make sense?

Do we really need to statistically prove that we’re better off with licensed drivers, contractors, airplane pilots, bus drivers and dentists than with unlicensed ones?

Isn’t it self-evident that restricting the use of powerful and potentially deadly devices to those who have proven that they know how to use them properly is a good idea?

Or, put another way, is it reasonable to assume that powerful and potentially deadly devices will be used just as safely by untrained, unlicensed people as they will be by trained, licensed people?

Doesn’t it make just as much, or just as little, sense to let untrained, unlicensed people carry loaded guns as it does to let untrained and unlicensed people drive unregistered cars and trucks on the public highways?

Would it be a smart thing to abolish driving tests, driver’s licenses and automobile registration and let anybody who wants to drive just get behind the wheel of an unregistered vehicle with no license plates?

Is that a serious argument? Really?

Why We License People To Perform Certain Tasks

Licensing is a technique designed to make it more likely that people will properly perform tasks that require a level of skill or which can cause harm if performed improperly.

The licensing process is designed to be the first stage that filters out people who are unqualified to do a specific task. It’s intended to weed out as many as possible of the people who are reckless, careless, incompetent, ignorant, untrained, untalented, crazy, criminal, etc.

In order to raise the level of competence and reduce the risk of harm from specialized tasks being done wrong, we require that people first prove their base level of competency to perform those tasks well.

We require people to be licensed for all kinds of things — driving a car, driving a bus, flying an airplane, using explosives, using toxic chemicals, etc.

Do you want your surgery performed by a licensed doctor or by somebody who’s just decided to call himself a doctor? The same with your architect and building contractor, your dentist and your electrician. Do we really have to prove that we’re better off with plumbers, pharmacists and exterminators, etc. etc. etc, being licensed instead of being unlicensed?

Is it a good thing to require training and demonstrated competence before a person can install a toilet but a waste of time to require training and demonstrated competence before a person can own an assault rifle? Is that a sensible position?

Does it make any sense to insist that the guy who’s putting a new breaker box in your house must pass a test and be a licensed electrician but not care if your neighbor who’s just bought a .357 magnum has any training whatsoever in the safe use and proper storage of a firearm?

Licenses Can Be Revoked For Bad Behavior

The second purpose of requiring a license is so that by revoking his/her license an individual who performs the task badly can be barred from continuing to do that same task in the future.

Of course it’s not perfect protection. Nothing is. Unlicensed drivers may still get behind the wheel, but if they’re caught, the mere act of driving will be enough to send them to jail.

Medical licenses can and should be revoked for one too many botched surgeries or using your prescription pad to run a pill mill.

Contractor’s licenses can and should be revoked for screwing over too many home owners.

Driver’s licenses can and should be revoked for too many convictions for reckless or drunk driving.

If you pass the gun-safety test and get a gun and then start firing it into the air on the 4th of July or you wave it in the face of another driver who’s honked at you or you take a potshot at your neighbor’s house, you should lose your license and your gun should be taken away from you. Duh!

That’s why we license people who want to use powerful equipment or perform tasks that can be dangerous or damaging if not done correctly.

Isn’t it completely reasonable that untrained people shouldn’t be allowed to own deadly weapons anymore than untrained people shouldn’t be allowed to drive buses, fly airplanes, or build houses?

If you’re a felon or mentally ill or don’t know how to safely use a firearm then isn’t it a really bad idea to let you have a gun?

And if you’re not a felon and not mentally ill and if you pass a gun-safety class then you can have your gun, so what are you complaining about?

If that seems like a reasonable position, why are the gun people so tenaciously opposed to background checks and gun-training requirements? Why are they making these silly “It’s not dangerous for untrained people to have a gun” and “It’s not dangerous for criminals and mentally ill people to be able to buy a gun” arguments?

The Real Reason The Gun People Want Unregistered Guns & No Background Checks

All those arguments are just a smoke screen. They’re fake, cover arguments. The gun people do have a good reason why they don’t want gun buyers to have to be licensed and pass a background check and why they don’t want firearms to be registered.

At their core the “no gun registration, no background checks” people are some flavor or another somewhere on the continuum of the anarchist political religion, and they want unregistered guns in the hands of anonymous people so that some day, when they decide that the government has gone “too far,” they will have guns to mount an armed insurrection against the government.

If guns are registered and gun owners are licensed, then the “evil” government will be able to track them down and take away their guns before they can launch their armed revolution which they are increasingly sure they will be justified in waging.

They Want Unregistered Guns For An Armed Insurrection

In their minds, they’re pretty sure that all those minorities and immigrants and liberals are going to wreck the country and steal their freedom and that they’re going to have to take back their “rights” by force of arms.

But to do that, they’re going to need as many guns as they can get their hands on. And they’ll need them to be unregistered so that the government won’t be able to track them down and take them away.

If people have to pass a gun-safety test and pass a background check before they can buy a gun then the government will have their names on a list and when the New Gestapo or the Black Helicopters take to the skies that list can be used to take away their guns.

That’s why they don’t want guns to be registered and why they don’t want gun buyers to have to pass a background check and get a license.

Say What You Really Believe

They don’t want to say that out loud because they have a suspicion that some people will think that it sounds more than just a little crazy. Lots of people already call them “gun nuts” and saying stuff like that in public might reinforce the label, so they generally shy away from saying that too openly.

Instead, they make these silly arguments that unregistered guns and anonymous, untrained, potentially criminal or crazy gun owners aren’t really dangerous at all because they don’t want to admit the real reason why they don’t want gun owners to have to demonstrate their competence and register their weapons.

Come on gun people, own up to it.

Just say it out loud:

“We want unregistered, military-style weapons in the hands of anonymous people so that we can be ready to fight our insurrection against the federal government. Long live The Turner Diaries.”

Stand up for what you believe, no matter how paranoid or nut-job crazy it may sound to people other than yourselves.

— David Grace (

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Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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