The massacre in Florida has put gun control back on the table. Thanks to Senator Chris Murphy's filibuster, it looks like the Senate may actually vote on some basic, common-sense regulations in the coming days. He and other Democrats spoke for nearly 15 hours, from about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday into the early hours of Thursday morning. Even Donald Trump signaled support for banning those on terror watch lists from buying guns. Until Congress acts, though, guns remain painfully easy to purchase. In fact, these eight things are harder to buy than a gun.
That's because there are many loopholes in federal law. The last true reform happened in 2007, after the Virginia Tech shooting, when Congress moved to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The Virginia Tech shooter should have been prevented from buying a gun due to past mental health problems, but it didn't show up in the instant check. Even with that measure, a gun buyer facing denial could simply go to a gun show or buy a firearm online from an unlicensed seller. Those purchases don't require background checks at all. Zip, zilch, nada. Sadly, it doesn't take much for these other things to make the list.
1) Cold Medicine
Federal rules limit the amount of pseudoephedrine you can buy in a month, because it can be used to make methamphetamine. You can only buy 3.6 grams per day and nine grams within 30 days. There's no similar federal restriction to the amount of guns you can buy.
2) Cell Phone Contracts
Every time you sign up for a new cellphone contract, they run your credit to see if it looks like you will pay the bill — something they need to get back the subsidies for your new phone. T-Mobile recently said that until recently, half of its subscribers didn't qualify for its top deals. Not so with a gun. Many deals are done in cash, with no credit check required.
You're probably aware, but in all 50 states, you must be 21 to buy alcohol. You can get a gun at just 18, or even when you're younger, according to federal law. Licensed dealers aren't supposed to sell handguns to buyers under 21, but long guns are fine at 18. Unlicensed dealers can sell handguns to 18-year-olds and long guns to people of any age.
OK, technically this is for pet adoption, not purchase. Either way, you'll be shocked to know that this is also more difficult than buying a gun. Most shelters require you to fill out an adoption application. They ask you questions about where you live, if there are kids around, and how many other pets you might have.
5) Marriage Licenses
To apply and pay for a marriage license, you'll need to bring several forms of ID — and perhaps a letter of consent if you're under 18. In the District of Columbia and Mississippi, you'll need to take a blood test (in Montana, it's just women). And in most states, there are waiting periods of up to five days before you can use the license.
That's if you're planning to use food stamps to buy the food. The wait time for your application could be as long as a month, depending on which state you apply from. In Arkansas, they say it takes about 30 days. You'll also have to bring documentation, IDs, and more to show you're eligible.
7) An Abortion
The odds are you live in a state where you have to notify your parents if you want to get an abortion before age 18. Not so for gun buyers under 18, according to federal law, assuming they buy from an unlicensed dealer. Other states require counseling or an ultrasound, no matter your age. A gun is also probably cheaper. Abortions can run as much as $1,500 if you pay full price, whereas a semiautomatic rifle can be found for as little as $630 online.
8) Solar Panels
Yes, really. In Florida guns can be purchased on layaway. The assault rifle the shooter used retails around $2,058, according to Rolling Stone. That's a hefty sum, but not a problem if you can pay it off little by little. Want to do the same to save the environment and produce clean energy? Sorry, no solar panels for you. Popular leasing programs are illegal, and fewer than 9,000 homes in the Sunshine State have them installed because of laws that favor utility companies.