I have long said that people who sneer at CCW holders because gun-carrying shouldn’t require a license – a position with which I agree wholeheartedly, just not the sneering – should look in their own wallets. If they have a driver’s license in there, they should maybe turn down the contempt a notch or two because they’re not being consistent.
In a local conversation I dragged that argument out and got it thrown back in my face: Driving, I was told, is a privilege because virtually all roads essentially belong to the government and the government gets to decide who uses them.
So then, I asked, is it a privilege to be permitted to walk on a right-of-way? Yes indeed, said this person. In fact there’s a widespread precedent: Try hiking on a freeway shoulder and see how far you get before the cops come by.
And you know, he had me there.
I want more people to carry guns. Effective ability for self defense is an absolute right, and I don’t believe it should be licensed – at all. The only halfway-good argument for licensing handgun carry is to document having satisfied a training requirement, which was always the argument I heard for driver’s licenses. Would I want to share the road with a world full of completely untrained drivers, because driving is considered an absolute right? I really wouldn’t. True, untrained gun carriers are not as dangerous as untrained drivers, because a holstered handgun never hurt anybody. But nobody ever argued that gun carriers should not seek training – only that it shouldn’t be a prerequisite for exercise of the right because then it isn’t a right – it’s a privilege granted by law. Like driving.
Curiously, in the conversation above the topic of training never came up. My companion said driving is a privilege because of the matter of road use: The boss’s roads, the boss’s rules. I’d never thought of it that way, but if you accept the premise the argument makes sense. I’m not sure I accept the premise, but can’t coherently argue against it.
And – my point, at last – it seems to put a stick in the spokes of my old argument equating carry licenses with driving licenses*.
*Full disclosure: I don’t have a driver’s license either. And no, I’ve never been busted for DUI or any equivalent. I have, however, been busted for driving without a license.