4 Things Harder to Get in America Than a Gun

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How long does it take to purchase a semi-automatic rifle in the United States? You may be surprised.

Omar Mateen used a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle to fatally gun down 49 people and wound dozens more at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub on June 12.

The very next day, a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News purchased an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in just seven minutes in Philadelphia.

Two days after the mass shooting, two Huffington Post reporters walked into a Florida gun shop empty-handed and left just 38 minutes later with an AR-15 assault rifle in hand. The gun shop employee there told the HuffPo reporters that they would have been in and out of the store with a gun in five minutes, but there was a backlog of background checks because people were rushing to purchase guns in the wake of the Orlando shooting.

It’s not unusual for gun (and ammunition) sales to spike after a high-profile shooting as many Americans stock up on ammo and guns, fueled by fear of tighter gun control initiatives. The FBI conducted a record 23.1 million firearm background checks in 2015 — more than 3.3 million of which occurred in December, after the deadly shooting spree in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 dead and 22 seriously wounded.

Just how easy (or difficult) is it to obtain a firearm in the United States? Well, here are four (far less lethal) items that are arguably more difficult to get:

  • Allergy/cold medicine: If you’re suffering from a cold or allergies, getting your hands on Sudafed (or another similar over-the-counter cold medicine with pseudoephedrine in it) can be a pain. Because pseudoephedrine is used to make methamphetamine illegally, you have to show a photo identification to purchase the medicine, which is also logged into a database. The U.S. government has also implemented daily sales limits and 30-day purchasing limits on the medicine — a part of the Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005.
  • A pet: Adopting a pet in the United States isn’t easy. You don’t walk into a shelter, find a cute puppy and head home with your new dog the same day. Typically, animal shelters require an extensive application, interview, background check and some even ask for personal references. There’s also a chance your home may be inspected before the shelter decides if you’re fit to be a pet owner. Although licensed gun dealers work with the FBI to conduct federal background checks on prospective gun owners, most states don’t require background checks if you’re purchasing a gun from a private individual at a gun show, according to MarketWatch.
  • Marriage license: I live in Montana. Before I was able to get a marriage license here, I had to get a blood test for rubella immunity, so there was a waiting period between the test and obtaining the license. If you want to get married in Louisiana, you have a three-day waiting period between the time you obtain the marriage license and the actual marriage ceremony. As the Philadelphia Daily News reporter found out, you can leave a gun shop with a semiautomatic rifle in seven minutes.
  • An abortion: In Florida, there’s no waiting period to purchase an assault rifle like Mateen used. But if a woman wants to get an abortion in the Sunshine State, she must have an ultrasound and in-person counseling, plus delay for a 24-hour waiting period, before she’s able to get the medical service performed, according to Rolling Stone.

Do you think it’s too easy to get your hands on a gun in the United States? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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