I have been giving a lot of thought as to how I should write about the murders at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Should I discuss how this was an act of terrorism or perhaps address the people who used the terms “baby parts” and how rhetoric and lies can become a call to arms for fanatics and the marginalized? After all Bill O’Reilly, George Will, Carly Fiorina and their ilk should be held accountable for their words. However, in the few days it took me to complete my research there was another mass shooting. Actually, there were two but the four people shot in Georgia (three injured, one death) didn’t make much news because 14 were assassinated in California and another 17 were wounded.

So I just want to focus on one fact, that it is easier to buy a gun in the United States that it is to by Sudafed.

Sudafed contains pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make methamphentemine. The meth problem was considered serious enough that the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 was signed into law. This means pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, and ephedrine (precursor chemicals that can be used to make methamphetamine and found in some sinus medications) have a per transaction sales limit, i.e. the amount that can be sold at a single time is limited. In addition, these chemicals must be kept behind-the-counter or locked in a cabinet. Sellers are regulated and must be able to provide proof of compliance and keep a written log of purchases. Monthly sales per purchaser are also restricted and so identification is required to buy them. Internet vendors are not exempt.

chart-2-gunMethamphetamine is a terrible drug. It leads to many terrible health sequelae, is devastating for affected families, and kills about 900 people a yearIt costs us about $23 billion a year. 

But guns kill over 33,000 people a year and cost America $229 billion/year and they are easier to buy than Sudafed. No form of identification is required at a gun show or online. We also don’t limit the number of firearms that can be purchased at single encounter or over any time frame. .

The math is simple, the more guns the greater the risk of death just like the easier it is to get pseudoephedrine the easier it is to make meth.

It’s true that good people don’t kill, but it’s also true that people who don’t use or make meth don’t abuse Sudafed yet we still make them go through some simple steps to reduce the risk of abuse and to help keep everyone safer.

Our government is more concerned about Sudafed than guns and I think that pretty much says it all.





Lots of snarky and comments and insults directed to me on Twitter since this post appeared a few hours ago from people who apparently think any attempt to reduce deaths from gun violence is a negative thing.

Let me say that again, people who think trying to reduce harm and save lives is a goal to be ridiculed.

They tell me I am wrong (and stupid and lots of other nasty things), because clearly all guns all require background checks and identification and gun sales are super duper safe already. This means they either can’t read, haven’t bothered to check, or simply listen to the drivel spouted by the NRA.

Private sales do not require much of anything in most states. This was the whole point of closing the gun show loophole, which of course failed to pass.

In Alaska you can sell a firearm to someone privately as long as you believe they are over 18 and you think they are not drunk or otherwise intoxicated.  Pretty much the same goes in Texas too. And a lot of other states.

A study that compared gun show sales in California (which imposes additional regulations) with states that do not tells us that regulations reduce straw purchases.  Gun shows are a major channel for trafficking illegal weapons, and that can only be because it is easier to get a weapon at a gun show than from a licensed dealer. Many gun shows require no state or federally issued photo ID to buy a firearm. With Sudafed you require ID, there is no federally sanctioned back door option to buy Sudafed from unlicensed pharmacists.

This man tweeted about how easy it was for him to get a gun with no photo ID, just a fishing license he got without providing any identification:



As a pharmacist must ask for identification and record the sale there is a searchable Sudafed registry. There is no federal law requiring a registry for gun purchases.   

And as for online? You can sell or buy a gun via Armslist. Obviously you have to meet in person  to finish the transaction, but no ID appears to be required.

gunshows-gif-finalAnd here’s another nice tidbits, 94% of licensed declared were willing to to complete a gun sale when it appeared the sale was on behalf of a prohibited person. I’m pretty sure if a pharmacist suspected the Sudafed was going to be used for meth they wouldn’t sell it (although as quantities are restricted it wouldn’t really be an issue).

So while many licensed dealers may follow the law, the fact that there are so many legal ways to get guns from unlicensed dealers, family and friends without requiring identification (and with no limit on the quantity sold) and no registry clearly makes it easier to get a gun than Sudafed.   







Join the Conversation


  1. I have been a licensed gun owner in NJ for years and applied for a permit to buy a gun five weeks ago. I had to submit paperwork including information regarding my mental health status and references outside of family along with paying a fee to cover costs for a criminal background check. I have yet to receive my permit to purchase. Apparently there are states where people can buy guns easily, but there are also many states that make it a lot harder to buy guns than Sudafed. Blanket statements don’t solve issues, they only weaken the argument.

    Establish best practices, create policy both sides can get behind, identify the state(s) lacking and start with those state legislature(s), one by one. Passing laws in this country is not easy, and it shouldn’t be, however, it can be done if you bring everyone to the table. Unfortunately, debating issues is an art sorely lacking in today’s world where those who don’t agree are criticized and marginalized, instead. All this leads to a lot of yelling, but nothing gets accomplished.

  2. As a gun owner in Georgia, I too can attest that it took detailed paperwork, a background check, and a one week waiting period for me to purchase my gun. Sensationalism does nothing to promote informed, rational debate and in fact serves only to inflame conflict. While I generally enjoy your blog and viewpoints, I wish you had presented a more accurate and unbiased title and article.

      1. Your article specifically says “no form of ID is required to purchase online.” That is false. Further citing CNN does very little for credibility.

  3. I think its hard from a rational persons standpoint to think about this. Yes, if you are a responsible person you follow all the legal protocols and think that everyone must do that and its not that easy to get a gun. But when you are a person who is actively searching for weaponry, you follow the easiest path to achieve your goals. Why complete a waiting period? Why complete a form? Why chance being denied? It is easier to order something online (its why we all use Amazon!) than it is to walk outside. Its easier to go to a gun show filled with people who are enthusiastic and excited about guns and get whatever you what in whatever quantities you want, than to go to a single dealer who might find your overzealousness questionable.

    I live in Canada. The closest I have ever been to a gun is when I am standing next to a police officer in line for coffee, and I think that should be the norm. Americans think guns are as important as the air they breathe, and just as much of a right. Its engrained in them, and the rest of us all see it. Every other nation grieved along with the US for Columbine, but now they just shake their heads at the ignorance and the unwillingness to do something, ANYTHING about the slaughter that is going on in their nation.

    They want to limit access to abortions, a medical decision made by a rational person, but dont want to limit gun access to irrational people who go out and kill other people. Living, breathing, innocent people.

    My heart bleeds for those who suffer but is angered by everyone else who sits idly by.

  4. It appears you have lassoed some misinformation. I live in Utah where it’s considered relatively easy to buy a gun. I can tell you from personal experience at buying both guns and Sudafed that it is still harder to buy Sudafed.

  5. If you blanket the deaths from all guns against one drug, of course the numbers will tell the story you want…
    The guns statistics is plural, many types of guns. It’s misleading to compare all types vs one type.

    Looking at gunS vs drugS, the numbers don’t support your message.

    Guns aka firearms – 34K
    Drugs, including meth – 46K

    Better firearm laws are needed, I agree…
    Just tell the whole story, not just the numbers to inflate your agenda.


  6. 94% of licensed declared were willing to to complete a gun sale when it appeared the sale was on behalf of a prohibited person.

    Proof is in the pudding, Where did you get that stat from? I’d love to vet it’s veracity myself!

    I live in Tx, am pro-choice (was at Tampongate in Austin w my legal firearm and pads to throw at my Senators) and I have bought several guns WITH my ID at gun shows where I had a rapid background check EVERYTIME. Maybe I choose to do it the right way because I’m an upstanding citizen but MOST dealers I’ve worked with at gun shows here to buy firearms from had no qualms with telling me NO when I forgot my Driver’s Lisence in the car.

    Also another fun anecdote about gun and their sales, my brother frequently sells, buys and trades his weapons (theyre like baseball cards to some) has responsibly REFUSED to sell guns to people when thy don’t have valid ID (he takes a pic of the ID on his phone), are obviously twitchy on something or drunk and one idiot who tried to also sell him marijuana during the transaction.

    There are so many of us responsible gun owners out there, who hate the NRA and Republicans, love are guns yet are liberals on a ton of other issues.

    Ps – The number of people who are reported to have been killed by guns per annum also includes suicides (upwards of 60% are suicides) and does not in my opinion accurately reflect how dangerous guns are to society at large ie random gun violence.

  7. I believe in minimum law, maximum enforcement. Keep your gun(s) at home. Get caught with a loaded gun on the street, mandatory 5. FIVE, not 5 on the half-off plan. Do it again, 15 mandatory. 3 strikes, you’re out. Life, no parole. Use a gun on the street and do murder, death penalty. Simple. You get your self-defense at home, you can transport your weapon to the range dismantled. Get caught with one loaded and ready-to-go on the street, you’re gone. No breaks in court, no considerations toward not warehousing our young men, no arguments. Get caught with a loaded handgun outside, go to jail.

    And that’s it. Simple, effective and for repeat offenders, permanent. Nearly instantly, our streets would be gun-free and I’d wager most folks wouldn’t bother with them. In the big cities, gang-bangers, ghetto kids, druggies would be disarmed and unable even to kill each other, except of course, you may have more stabbings. The real offenders wouldn’t even be ON the streets, they’d be in jail. Our trauma centers and emergency rooms in the cities would be subject to far less traffic by gunshot victims. Enforcement must be ruthless, swift and relentless. Once a few examples were made a lot of guns would turn up in the trash, the police stations, for sale as scrap.

    But we’re not going to do that, are we? Of course not.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: