If only the GOP would treat guns the way it wants to treat this.
If only the GOP would treat guns the way it wants to treat this. Tim Matsui / Getty

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If you wanted to buy a gun, you'd be inundated with years of cultural messaging about how wanting to shoot anything is a HUGE responsibility and makes you a bad person, but okay, you really want a gun, so you have to go somewhere and talk to a doctor or other authority figure about YOUR particular reasons for wanting a gun.

Said authority figure will ask you numerous personal questions you don't want to answer—why you want to buy a gun (hunting is an acceptable reason, planning a murder is not), what in your personal or medical history contraindicates the purchase certain kinds of guns, if you have preexisting conditions that make owning a gun a bad idea for you (if you have a domestic violence record, you don't get a gun), if you fully understand the risks of owning a gun (here you would be forced to watch Bowling for Columbine and write a five-paragraph essay on the dangers of unregulated assault weapons), if you know how to store, clean, and lock up a gun. If you answer any of these questions unsatisfactorily, you don't get a gun. Or you don't get the gun you wanted. Or only two types are available. Oh, and your boss is allowed to weigh in on whether guns should be available to you.

Once you're approved for your gun, you have to go to a second location to get it. Employees of the business dispensing your gun can opt out of assisting with a firearms sale based on conscientious objections. You may have to wait for someone willing to facilitate the gun sale to show up. This could take days.

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Once you get the gun, you can only buy ammunition in very limited amounts, and before you do, you have to walk through a throng of angry gun control advocates to talk to someone behind a plexiglas window who will remind you how the gun works. They will also tell you that for some reason the gun is going to be way more expensive than what you were originally told. They will remind you of how to use your gun responsibly, and they won't let you leave until you've signed a form saying you've been counseled in gun safety.

If you don't like your gun and want a new one? You have to go back to step one.

The gun lobby acts like regulating guns is an onerous injustice against people who deserve weapons, as if it is unthinkable that anyone should have to put any effort at all into purchasing something they want but don't need, even if that something can kill people. But the process I just described is, with mild hyperbole, not far off from what it's like to fill a prescription for birth control, which is something people need and which doesn't kill people. It's a tedious, sometimes expensive multistep process that people go through every day. And if we can do it, you can do it.