Anti gun rights groups push for gun registration because such registration allows the government to know who owns guns, so that they can later be wrongfully confiscated. Recent events in Tennessee, along with other trends, show that gun owners are at risk not only from overt gun registration requirements – but back door registration schemes too:
The Tennessee Back Door Gun Registration Scheme
The Tennessee Department of Safety sent letters to all firearms instructors, requiring that the instructors provide their students’ personal information, along with the make/model/serial number of the gun that the student used during the Handgun Safety School Class. This would have been a means of gun registration, as the government would have known which law abiding citizens owned which guns. Fortunately, this (unlawful) scheme was dropped after law abiding gun owners stood up for their rights.
The BATFE Back Door Gun Registration Scheme
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) requires that firearms dealers fill out Form 4473, which includes the person information of the gun purchaser, and the gun’s make/model/serial number, among other information. Federal law prohibits the BATFE from keeping copies of Form 4473, in order to protect gun owners from governmental abuses. However gun dealers are required to keep copies of every Form 4473 for a period of 20 years after the sale of a gun. When a gun dealer closes, for any reason, they are required to turn over, to the government, the Form 4473 for every gun sale that they conducted over the last 20 years. The result is back door registration of guns owned by law abiding citizens.
Lost or Stolen Reporting Requirements
Anti gun groups are pushing for laws that would require a gun owner to report any loss or theft of their gun to the police. Such laws may seem like a good idea at first, but they do not have any rational relationship with preventing crime. When a gun is stolen, the criminal already has it, and notifying the police of this fact won’t help recover it. Similarly, when a gun is lost, telling the police won’t bring it back. Criminals can misuse just about any tool that they steal, but we don’t jail people for failing to promptly report the theft of their car, knife, hammer, or acid. Instead, such lost/stolen gun laws are intended to make gun owners fear prosecution – and as a means of back door gun registration, as the police would know that a person was a gun owner if one of their guns were to be stolen. Worse yet, requiring that lost or stolen guns be reported would allow the police to catch a citizen between a rock and a hard place, in the event of an unconstitutional gun confiscation scheme, as happened recently in New Orleans. Without a lost/stolen law, a gun owner could claim that they can’t turn in their guns because the guns were lost or stolen. However with such a law, a gun owner who tried this approach to avoid gun confiscation could then be jailed for failure to report the loss or theft.
Illinois’ FOID Card Requirement
An Illinois citizen who wishes to own, buy, sell, or possess a gun must first get a Firearms Owners Identification Card (FOID Card). The FOID cards used to be valid for 5 years from the date that they were issued, although that was recently changed to 10 years. When a FOID card expires, and a citizen forgets to renew it, this information is available to the police (it is a felony to posses a gun without a currently valid FOID card). The police have confiscated the guns of otherwise law-abiding people, who just forgot to renew on time. While it is true that citizens should be sure to renew their FOID cards on time, it is unreasonably harsh to confiscate and destroy a citizen’s valuable guns due to such a small mistake that harms no one. We don’t confiscate and crush a person’s car, that was sitting in their garage, because they forgot to renew the vehicle registration. Nor do we confiscate and destroy a Ham radio operator’s equipment because their license lapsed. We certainly don’t threaten such drivers or Ham radio operators with a felony conviction for their failure to renew. Worse yet, FOID card renewals are routinely delayed for longer than the 30 days allowed by law, preventing citizens who do everything “by the book” from renewing on time. Once again, back door registration is dangerous.
My thanks to Chuck for pointing out the TN back door gun registration attempt.