The media so often gets it wrong on guns that you almost want to stick your fingers in your ears and go, “Blah, blah, blah,” to block out the misinformation and disinformation that it continues to publish. A recent example of really vexing pontification on the Second Amendment comes from a New York Times op-ed, titled, “Effective Firearms Regulations Is Constitutional,” that argues a comprehensive database of all gun owners and their firearms is not only constitutional but will “put a serious crimp in gun theft, gun crime and gunrunning.”
After lamenting the current federal background check system that doesn’t criminalize private transfers or sales, the authors of the piece Abner J. Mikva, a former member of Congress, federal judge and counsel to President Bill Clinton, and Lawrence Rosenthal, a professor of law at Chapman University in Orange, CA, imagine what the ideal background check system would look like.
“A more effective system would require everyone who owns or acquires a gun to register it,” they write. “Gun owners would also need a license that could be obtained by demonstrating they can use a gun responsibly, and passing a background check.”
“Registration records would create a comprehensive database of all guns and their owners,” the two men continued. “During a criminal investigation, when a gun was recovered from a person who was not its registered owner, that person would face serious penalties. But so, too, would the registered owner if he had failed to report that the weapon was no longer in his possession.”
I know what you’re thinking, gun registration paves the way for gun confiscation. History has certainly shown that to be true. But what I’m interested in discussing, at least at first, is not the eventual outcome of the proposal for a comprehensive database but how these two men arrived at this conclusion in the first place (I can’t tell if they’re true anti-gunners or if they have just been sold, hook-line-sinker, the gun-control lies).
See, I believe that so many people support gun registration because they start by asking the wrong question, which is, how do we better control, limit and/or restrict gun ownership? The goal is to, as they so often say, reduce gun violence. But unilaterally infringing on the Second Amendment often does very little to impact gun-related violence. We see this in places like Chicago, D.C., where despite very draconian policies on gun ownership the violence is out of control.
At its core, gun control measures like a gun registry are really selling people false hope. It’s alluring because it gives one an identifiable solution (that’s not really a solution at all) to a complex problem. People, who may be unbiased on the gun issue, are easily sold on what they can readily apprehend. So, for example, they buy into the gun-grabber’s reasoning that if we just pass universal background checks or if we just create a gun registry or if we just mandate micro-stamping or if we just ban this black rifle or ban this standard-capacity magazine that we’ll keep the bad guys from killing innocents. But these ideas never have the impact that gun-control advocates claim they will have. And when they fail to work, gun-grabbers perversely use their ineffectiveness as a justification for more proposals to restrict, limit and/or control gun ownership. For anti-gunners, the problem is never that gun control doesn’t work, it’s that we never have enough of it.
I can go one by one and briefly explain how all of the aforementioned proposals have failed to achieve their desired result. Universal background checks exist in California, Colorado and plenty of other states, but criminals still have guns. Canada recently repealed its gun registry system. Why? It was ineffective and costly. Micro-stamping requirements have fell by the wayside in various states because it’s been proven to be easily circumvented. The Clinton-era ban on black rifles expired in 2004, the result, crime continued to decrease in the wake of its expiration proving it had no effect on crime rates.
Given these lackluster results, why are gun control advocates still pushing these failed policies? Well, for many anti-gunners the end game isn’t really about background checks or gun registration, it’s about total civil disarmament. They won’t stop until we go the way of Europe. And that’s really what they’re getting at. But since it’s not politically feasible to dismantle the 2A in one fell swoop, they have to chip away at it incrementally.
More fundamentally, though, gun control fails for the same reasons that the War on Drugs failed and Prohibition failed. It’s a supply-side approach. To really take a bite out of gun-related violence, we need to address the demand for crime guns. Therefore, the right question to ask ourselves is not concerned with putting more onerous restrictions on gun ownership, but rather, how do we decrease the criminal demand for firearms? And to really reduce the criminal demand for firearms, we have to create a society that produces fewer criminals. How do we do that?
It’s not an easy question to answer because there is no simple solution. We’re basically talking about overhauling the culture and socio-economics of high-crime neighborhoods, which is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of time, money and manpower. While a clear-cut solution remains elusive, we know that part of it has to involve giving young people a quality education and creating job opportunities. If we educate people and we put them to work, chances are they’re not going to resort to crime.
The jokers who wrote the NY Times editorial don’t seem to understand this point, or if they understand it, they don’t care to mention it. Instead, they go on to argue the benefits of national registry, which they wrongly contend is constitutional.
“A comprehensive system of background checks and registration would not prevent law-abiding people from obtaining guns for purposes of lawful self-defense,” they write. “It would be consistent with both the Heller decision and the Second Amendment’s acknowledgment that those who keep and bear arms should be ‘well regulated.’”
“An efficient system could instantly determine whether a proposed firearms purchase was legal, and then register the sale,” they add. “It need not impose any meaningful burden on the right to keep and bear arms. This system would, however, put a serious crimp in gun theft, gun crime and gunrunning. There is nothing unconstitutional about that.”
First off, firearm sales that are conducted by an FFL are already recorded. But those records — the form 4473s — aren’t submitted to the government unless the FFL goes out of business or unless the ATF is conducting an audit or an investigation. The point is we don’t need a registry. We don’t need to turn over this sensitive information to the government. It’s none of the government’s business who owns a firearm.
Additionally, the founders and framers idea of “well-regulated” had nothing to do with government restrictions on gun ownership (hence the very clear declaration, “Shall Not Be Infringed,” at the end of the 2A) or the government’s ability to monitor gun owners, but instead had to do with a militia of civilians being well-trained and self-sufficient. The 2A’s main purpose is to protect a free State from government tyranny! It wouldn’t make any sense at all for citizens to allow the government to meddle with the very right that protects them from — the government! The gross misreading by these NY Times imbeciles that government is supposed to regulate the Second Amendment is like suggesting a burglar ought to have the security code to one’s home alarm system. It’s ridiculous.
Gun registration, therefore, isn’t Constitutional, nor is it an effective crime-fighting tool. As we saw in Canada, they disbanded their registry because it was costly and ineffective. Criminals, they realized, never registered their firearms. Surprise! Surprise! Instead, what happened was only the law-abiding complied with the registration requirement. It was a pointless endeavor.
Yet, here the writers of that op-ed contend that it is in our best interest to try the same failed policy, absent of proof that it would be effective and in the face of proof that shows it would ineffective (the majority of criminals, it turns out, use straw purchasers, buy firearms on the black market, steal firearms from law-abiding gun owners, borrow them from fellow criminals, basically, obtain firearms through illegal means). Why? Well to summarize, either (a) anti-gunners hoodwinked them into believing that it would reduce gun violence or (b) as anti-gunners themselves, they know it’s another brick in the wall to total civil disarmament.