Purchasing a gun in America is pretty easy. In most cases, you can go to the local gun store, pick out a gun (or guns), fill out a background check, wait for 30-second approval, and pay. The whole process takes about an hour. Each state has slight variations in its laws--for example, it's illegal to own certain assault rifles in California--but on the whole, the gun-buying process is streamlined and hassle-free.
The recent mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Aurora, Colorado, have jumpstarted the national conversation about gun control. A quick look at our day-to-day lives show that federal regulations color many of our activities. When it comes to guns, however, laws tend to be more lax.
Here are seven things more difficult to do than buying a gun:
- In many states, you have to register in advance to vote, sometimes by as much as 30 days. Under federal law, you can buy a gun on the day you decide you want one.
- Take Sudafed for your cold symptoms? Due to its connection with methamphetamine, federal law limits the amount pseudoephedrine (antihistamine) you can buy in a month. Federal law says nothing about how many guns you can purchase in one transaction.
- To get a cell phone contract, you have to provide your social security number. It's the same when signing up for many utilities services. When buying a gun, providing a social security number is not necessary.
- The FDA prohibits most dogs in restaurants in all fifty states. Forty-nine states (all but Illinois) allow concealed firearms to be carried in public.
- Houston lawmakers recently proposed a law which would require all strippers to get permits to take off their clothes. In the same state of Texas, no permit is necessary to purchase an assault rifle.
- Due to zoning laws in Miami-Dade county in Florida, liquor stores must be built 2,000 feet away from churches. Concealed guns can be carried into churches. Last year, in St. Petersburg, Fla., a pastor's daughter was accidentally shot by a gun-carrying congregant.
- In order to get open water scuba diving certification in Colorado, certification courses of up to three days are required; these include classroom sessions, pool dives, and open water practice dives. To meet the qualification for a concealed carry permit, you can take a 90-minute online course called "Introduction to Pistol Safety," with no actual shooting practice, and be on your way.