Needless to say, it’s always been a contentious issue. The Second Amendment protects the right of U.S. citizens to keep and bear arms. Federal law requires gun owners to be 21 and to submit to a background check before any licensed dealer (though not a private seller) is allowed to sell them a firearm. Which means, based on age alone, it’s easier to buy cigarettes, to vote, or join the Army than it is to buy a gun.
But any regulations beyond the federal limits are up to each state, hence the complicated and inconsistent nature of gun laws across the U.S. Many states don’t require permits to purchase handguns and long guns or licenses to carry them. Concealed weapons are even permitted in schools, workplaces, and churches in certain locales.
In fact, based on certain criteria (and nuances), procuring a gun—whether a handgun or an assault rifle—requires less effort and time than it does to acquire or access a number of other products or services that are subject to legal oversight. The Daily Beast compared the difficulty of acquiring a weapon with that of accessing or using other restricted or bureaucratic services and procedures like having an abortion and getting a driver’s license. Here’s what we found:
In Missouri, it can take less time to buy a gun than get an abortion.
According to state law, a woman wanting an abortion must see a counselor and complete a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before receiving an abortion. There's no mandatory waiting period for wannabe gun owners.
In Iowa, it’s easier to sell a gun than it is to sell lemonade.
Technically, food vendors in some parts of the state need a business permit and food license to sell food, even from a residential location. Gun vendors don’t need state licenses to sell guns, and inspections by police are not allowed.
In Arkansas, it takes less time to buy a gun than to qualify for food stamps.
The approval process for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) in Arkansas normally runs 30 days, though it can be expedited in seven. The background check to buy a gun from a licensed dealer can be completed in minutes, or at most three days.
In Texas, it takes less training to get a gun than a driver’s license if you’re under 25.
Adults between 18 and 24 are required to take a driver education course, as well as knowledge and driving tests, before they can be issued a license. To buy a gun in the state, potential owners need only show proof of identity and age.
In Arizona, you need a permit to cut hair, but not to carry a concealed weapon.
Arizona is one of three states (Vermont and Alaska are the others) that do not require residents to have a permit for a concealed weapon. To cut hair, however, one needs to get a barber’s license and fulfill 1,500 hours of instruction.
In Georgia, you can carry a gun into a state park—but not alcohol.
In Indiana, it costs more to get a marriage license than to get a gun license.
The application for a four-year handgun license is $10. The application for marriage when at least one person is a state resident is $18. Out-of-state residents must pay $60 for a marriage-license application.
In Florida, you must submit fingerprints to be a substitute teacher, but not to buy or carry a gun.
In Kansas, the theft of drugs is more regulated than the theft of guns.
At least as far as mandated reporting goes, that is. Health-care facilities and pharmacies are required to report the loss or theft of controlled substances, but individual gun owners are not required to report the theft or loss of a firearm. Only seven states and Washington, D.C. require the reporting of gun loss/theft.
In Mississippi, a driver’s license has a shorter shelf life than a concealed-weapon permit.
A new license will expire after four years, while a concealed-weapon permit for a handgun will expire after five years. Mississippi extended its laws restricting concealed firearms last year, allowing residents to carry concealed weapons in churches, courthouses, schools, and airports as long as they received eight hours of additional training.
In parts of New Mexico, it’s more convenient to buy a gun than a pet.
In some parts of New Mexico, pet store sales of cats and dogs are illegal (in order to stop fueling puppy mills and kitten factories), but firearms are stocked at local Walmarts.