I'm just curious if there is an organization that is active that is trying to implement a gun-control system akin to the hierarchy of driving privileges?

For example, an initial level that gives people access to bolt-action rifles and pump-action shotguns, then after a successful period allows the ability to apply for handgun ownership, then after a successful period allows the ownership of semi-auto rifles and semi-auto shotguns.

Is there any organisation trying to enact such a law?

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    Given that the U.S. government today is not allowed to even track the sales of guns, this would be a monumental step. The gun manufacturing industry, via the NRA, has an out-sized influence over the discussion here. Of course in their opinion, the solution to all problems is more people purchasing their products. – Tal Apr 11 '18 at 13:57
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    @Tal The NRA doesn't represent the firearm manufacturing industry; instead, the National Shooting Sports Federation, NSSF, does. While the NRA does receive some financial backing from firearms manufactures, it represents the American Gun owners. – Drunk Cynic Apr 11 '18 at 15:24
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    @Drunk Cynic Aside from only having a small minority of gun owners as members... The positions that they take simply do not represent "American gun owners". They regularly undercut attempts to enforce even the most basic checks while simultaneously claiming that enforcement of current laws is the solution. Their "members" control the NRA in the same sense that a Facebook user controls Facebook. Their audience is the product. They get paid to manipulate people. Largely by gun manufacturers, who also sometimes include membership for free with purchase of a firearm. – Tal Apr 11 '18 at 15:44
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    @Tal: Sorry, but you are flat-out wrong. Whie no organization can ever be 100% aligned with all its members, if it is too far off base, members will drop out. Likewise, there are many gun owners (I'm one) who are in general agreement with the NRA's positions, but who are not members. There are even some who even further, holding that most current laws (even the ones the NRA supports) & background checks are unconstitutional, – jamesqf Apr 11 '18 at 19:22
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    @Tal LOL. Ya, ok.. someone doesn't support the NRA positions but will sign up for a magazine and a few discounts? As far as free membership goes, you have to fill out a form and send it in, you're not automatically made a member. – Andy Apr 14 '18 at 17:33

Not to my knowledge on a national level. There is only so much the Feds can do without amending the Constitution. There are four states that require licenses to buy any firearm (Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) and an additional four that require a license for handguns only (Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, and North Carolina). Why Handguns only? Well, handguns are actually the classification of firearms most likely to be used in firearm related crimes. The most recent numbers I've seen attribute 5,600 criminal deaths to handguns, where as only 246 are attributable to semi-automatic rifles and slightly fewer were attributed to Shotguns/Bolt Action Rifles.

While many nations do have liscensing systems for gun ownership for various purposes, this may not be an easy law to implement in the states due to being an unreasonable restriction under the 2nd Amendment (I'm not aware of any states challenges rising far enough to test that validity) and would be hard to pass, let alone defend. States that have strict guidelines and are "May Issue" states (meaning that even if you meet all the qualifications, the decision maker can still say no because... reasons...) tend to reverse the decision on first appeal as they would rather quietly give you the license than let the complaint rise to a level where a court is ruling against the law.

At this time, I'm not aware of any group actively calling for this on a national level, though the Federal Government does not have much of a say in automotive licensing so if there is a group working towards this, they would be working at a more local level.

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  • If I understand correctly there are other states (or at least one) that require a license for all firearms purchases in a part of their territory (I'm thinking of New York City). – phoog Apr 11 '18 at 14:00
  • @phoog: Yes, but they are currently being challenged as a violation of 2nd Amendment Rights. These laws are made by the City, not the State. – hszmv Apr 11 '18 at 14:09
  • The laws may be enacted by the city government, but its power to enact the laws is delegated to it by the state. – phoog Apr 11 '18 at 14:39
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    @phoog A number of States have Preemption clauses in their laws restricting lower authorities from establishing additional gun laws. – Drunk Cynic Apr 11 '18 at 15:28
  • @DrunkCynic that comment seems to reinforce my point that ultimately the State of NY is responsible for restrictions that do or don't exist in the City of NY: it has delegated some authority to legislate and it has not pre-empted the establishment of additional gun laws. Hszmv: I can't find any references mentioning current 2nd amendment challenges; do you have any? I've only found mention of some challenges from a few years ago that went nowhere in the courts. – phoog Apr 11 '18 at 18:31

AFAIK there is no such organization. If there were, it would face a practical obstacle, in addition to the legal (Second Amendment &c) and psychological (just another scheme from the gun grabbers!) ones.

The problem is that the purposes for which weapons are owned aren't nearly so neatly graduated. A sport hunter might be perfectly satisfied with a bolt-action rifle or shotgun. Someone who wants an easily-carried weapon for self-defense (or other purposes) is generally going to need a pistol: a long gun simply isn't practical in many situations.

For instance, it's quite usual for my female riding companions to carry pistols out on the trail. (Even though AFAIK none of them hunt, or own long guns.) They could take a rifle in a saddle scabbard, but say they happen to be charged by a bear, their horse panics, bucks you off, and goes running down the trail with their rifle? (Not a contrived example: it happened to a friend last fall.)

Likewise, the person who wants a semi-auto rifle might have absolutely no need or desire to own a pistol. So you're imposing burdens of cost & time by requiring people to buy unneeded/unwanted weapons and wait for unstated periods before being able to get what they do need.

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  • The system OP is talking about is already implemented in some European states. E.g. in Czech Republic there's 5 license classifications and additional licensing barriers for the most dangerous weapons. Most people simply apply for all 5 at once since it's the same test. – JonathanReez Apr 12 '18 at 7:50
  • @JonathanReez: In what alternate universe do European states have a problem with imposing burdensome regulations on their citizens? (Besides, the OP specifies imposing a delay between various types.) – jamesqf Apr 12 '18 at 20:08

Gun-rights advocates might not mind such legislation if they believed that it would never be used to restrict the rights of individuals who have not even been accused--much less convicted--of having committed any crime, and who have not demonstrated, by any reasonable standard of evidence, to pose a danger to themselves or others.

On the other hand, gun-control advocates have openly pushed to restrict people's rights under such circumstances, making it rather hard to believe that they would not attempt to use any licensing scheme as a tool to make such efforts more effective.

If there were a broad recognition that any government action whose design purpose or substantial effect is to impede any free persons' exercise of their Second Amendment rights is fundamentally illegitimate, and that government abuse of a licensing scheme would void any requirements for licensure, then it might be reasonable to discuss licensing proposals. Unless gun-control advocates will concede that fundamental principle, though, I don't see any basis for any agreement.

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