The DMV: A bullseye solution to gun control


I had some big milestones to accomplish this year leading up to my 21st birthday.

Last summer I got the opportunity for my first real full-time job working for a government agency. It was a chance to put my computer science studies into practice and a perfect launching pad for my career. But first, there were the human resources hurdles that go along with this kind of employment. There was the standard job application with letters of recommendation and college transcripts, along with the I-9 form to prove my citizenship. The next step was a drug test by a contracted testing agency, which required a government-issued photo ID.

This was a problem. I was one of the growing number of young people who never got around to getting a driver’s license while I was in high school. So the next best option was a passport. Oops – mine was expired. So after getting a FedEx delivery of my original birth certificate and Social Security card sent to California from my home in North Carolina, it was off to a Post Office with mug shots and a hefty cashiers check in hand to apply for a passport.

Two weeks later, the passport arrived, the drug test was passed, and I was fingerprinted and photographed again to get my government ID card and gain access to the work site. Did I resent all of these steps, which ended up taking more than a month? Not really. These are the expected protocols for security and proper identification in modern society.

With that milestone accomplished, I realized I had better check off that driver’s license box on my bucket list. On my December break trip back to North Carolina, I tackled a tangle of requirements. First there was the liability insurance binder so I could begin the process of practicing my rusty behind-the-wheel skills that I had begun to learn in high school. Then I downloaded the state’s driver’s manual and spent several hours studying the laws, road signs and driving practices that I would be asked about on the written exam. I waited two weeks for my exam appointment, arrived at the correct time to get my eyes tested, pass the written test, and spend some nervous moments with a very stern highway patrol officer driving on local streets and highways. He was a no-nonsense guy who took seriously his mission of making sure every new driver was ready to handle the responsibility of operating a vehicle. My license arrived in the mail three weeks later and I got the joy of paying my first auto insurance premium. Yep, a real right of passage – I guess this means I am an adult.

The third milestone came purely by accident: I shot a gun.

It wasn’t something I had ever thought about. Our family is one of the estimated 68 percent of American households that do not own a gun. In fact, I had never held a gun nor had any desire to do so.

But a friend was at a local shooting range with his Glock 19 and convinced me to join him. After some cajoling and teasing, there I was, gun in hand and pointing at a target. Surreal.

I squinted hard, pulled the trigger, and the hole appeared right in the head of the outlined figure on the target. Had it been a real person, the wound would have been fatal. I shuddered, felt a little sick and quickly handed the pistol back. Did I want to try again? No. I was overwhelmed by what had happened. It still haunts me. This wasn’t Hollywood. Real gun. Real bullet. Real bullseye.

I may be a bona fide sharpshooter, but I am clearly not ready to own a gun. I would still need significant training. I should be verified, fingerprinted and insured. This is serious stuff. Except not back home, in North Carolina’s Alamance County. Under state laws, I can walk into any gun store and buy a rifle or shotgun, no questions asked, no permits required. And if I want to buy that Glock, it’s slightly more challenging. I can go on the local Sheriff’s website, download a two-page Pistol Purchase Permit and answer 13 simple questions. I need to supply my new drivers license number for identification, and I need to sign a release for any court orders related to my mental health. The pistol background check should be returned within a few days and I can go to the local gun dealer and arm myself.

Over the past several years, we’ve heard just about every argument that can be made on the question of gun control as the carnage continues across America. For now, it seems we’re at a stalemate, with the Second Amendment advocates holding the upper hand and the victims of gun violence continuing to mount.

Still, my own experiences as I count down the weeks to my 21st birthday lead to some common sense questions: If our society has determined it is reasonable to require job applicants and drivers to pass through some standard gateways, why are we not doing the same for the ownership of firearms? Is it not reasonable to require training and a competency test before granting access to an instrument of deadly force? Doesn’t it make sense to require fingerprints, or perhaps even tests of physical or mental fitness before allowing individuals to own and use a weapon that can end a human life with the simple squeeze of a trigger?

One more question – why are we not holding our elected leaders responsible for using common sense on the question of gun control? Here’s a novel idea: hand the enforcement over to the Department of Motor Vehicles. There’s at least one mean-looking highway patrolman in North Carolina who will make sure only those who are qualified get access to guns.

Sources used:

NC Driver License Requirements
“Number of households with guns on the decline, study shows” by CBS Pittsburgh
Gun laws in North Carolina
Alamance county pistol permit
NC Rifle & Pistol Association


5 thoughts on “The DMV: A bullseye solution to gun control

  1. I believe gun control laws are quite different depending on states. California specifically has been one of the more strict states when it comes to gun control. When you purchase a firearm in California, you have to wait 10 days for a “cool off” period before being able to pick up the gun. So, it is not quite as simple as going and buying it. Furthermore, I know California has recently imposed a firearm safety test before being able to purchase a firearm. Now, I do understand why people want more gun control law in response to many massacres that have happened. I think that these tragic events are indeed saddening, but I do not think that more firearm control will necessarily prevent massacres from happening. There are nearly 320 million people in the United States and death by massacres and guns tend to make the news more often, because it seems like the best headliner to capture people’s attention. I believe cancer takes more lives away than guns do. However, I am not supporting the fact that we should not do anything about guns. I do think that there is stuff to be done, but I do not believe laws and regulations will prevent someone from obtaining a firearm and killing someone. Furthermore, we also cannot argue to ban guns in the United States forever, because of how deeply our Constitution allows the rights to bear arms in this nation. Therefore, I personally think the best solution is to educate people on how to safely handle a gun, but also how to defend against gun violence (if possible).


  2. I have actually been wanting to write about this topic for a long time. There are so many arguments about gun control and propaganda that it can be difficult to understand their true effect. I personally do not see any reason why average citizens should own guns today. The 2nd Amendment is extremely outdated and no longer holds any validity in modern society. Most pro-gun arguments are extremely skewed as well. Many pro-gun lobbyists argued that when Australia tightened their gun laws, crime rates sky-rocketed and Australian officials were dismayed at what hey had done. When in actuality, the program actually was successful and gun-related homicides have dwindled over the years. However, there are some pro-gun arguments that do hold some credence I believe. There is data to suggest that home invasions are much more prominent in England (where gun laws are much stricter) than in the US. However, this study did not make any mention of murder rates, which are indeed MUCH lower there. I really think more research is needed, but personally I am for strict gun control.


  3. Gun Control is a sticky topic. For me, I’d like to bring up the same type of points I did when I was responding to a different blog post on the outlawing of tobacco products. There’s a tie in the United States to guns that echoes our history. As Americans, we love autonomy. We love the idea of being able to rise up against an oppressive institution, and we see the second amendment as our avenue for that purpose. I think gun laws have been made out of fear of the establishment, but I agree that some action might need to be taken to try to quell the use of firearms. I like the DMV approach to getting guns. A little more red tape will go a long way for gun control. I will say for this issue though, it’s an uphill battle. People see the government trying to take away the citizen’s avenue for autonomy as an affront on freedom, so even extra red tape will be an assault on personal rights for them. I used to be relatively pro-gun because I didn’t believe it was the place for the government to involve itself in the lives of private citizens. However, while I still think citizens should have access to guns for home protection, I also believe that there needs to be some reform. I went to a gun range for the first time at the beginning of this year and at one section, I was standing next to 15 other people all holding weapons that could kill me. I think guns are fine for hunting and for home protection, but I also am very wary of having them in the wrong hands. I don’t like to default to the notion that everyone is irresponsible and unworthy of having something dangerous in their hands. I like to give the American people the benefit of the doubt and believe that they are smart people deserving of responsibility. This DMV approach wouldn’t necessarily change that, but maybe it would slim down the benefit ever so slightly-something that would likely benefit society as a whole.


  4. This was a very good read and a very important topic. I’ve always thought this is one of the strongest arguments for gun control, delegating it to the DMV similar to the way driver’s licenses are. I truly believe in our 2nd amendment rights, and it goes against the Constitution to ban guns, but not control them. An individual has a right to own a gun, in their home, and protect themselves and their families, or it makes the job of any criminal who gets their hand on a gun illegally, which they will, much easier. Most criminals already buy them on the black market. Forget the large-scale arguments, if by the small chance it happens to me someday, that some criminal attempts to enter my home, which my mother is very paranoid about because it has happened to a close friend of ours, I want to be able to legally have a gun. However the fact that people can obtain them online or without a proper license is ridiculous. Guns can be deadly just like cars can be deadly, and evaluating someone’s ability to own a gun as strictly as driving ability is evaluated, or even more, there’s just no argument against that. But it is not that the second amendment is just completely outdated, in my opinion.


  5. I really enjoyed this article. You’re analogy between being able to drive a car and have a gun really makes an otherwise presented controversial issue, a seemingly no brainer. We take all the steps you outlined to obtain a license and, as you mentioned, we rarely complain about them! The only reason making gun ownership similar to DMV license standards seems so awful is because we are not used to that being the status quo. Making these changes wouldn’t deprive Americans of their guns, but it would (in my opinion) make it more difficult for the ‘wrong’ people to get their hands on them. This is an interesting take on a unique solution to an age old problem. Well done.


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