This essay was first written 19 years ago, in 2000. I have expanded, edited, and updated it.
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The holy grail of those who wish us disarmed is gun registration. Once your guns are required to be registered, they are, in effect, already confiscated. A little thought will reveal to you why this is so.
The Government will know who has legal possession of each firearm. They will know where the firearm is stored. When physical possession of the gun is desired, they can order you to turn it in. This has happened repeatedly.
The historical examples include NAZI Germany, Soviet Russia, Red China, and Cambodia. Recent examples include Kosovo, Great Britain, Australia, New York, and California. Not having possession of the firearm registered to you can be grounds for prosecution. If you have reported the gun stolen, and it is found in your possession, you can be charged with obstruction of justice, filing a false report, or perhaps a newly created crime for “gun criminals.”
Once all guns are required to be registered, the only people who will legally possess guns will be those who have registered them, a truism, but necessary to state the case clearly.
If you choose to follow the course of civil disobedience, and not register your firearms, mere possession of an unregistered gun will put you at grave legal risk. Civil disobedience has been the most common course of action in California and Canada, in Maryland and Connecticut, where it has proven impossible to enforce the laws requiring registration.
If you choose this course of action, you would be at the mercy of any informant who discovers you possess a gun illegally. Children are being trained in public schools to inform authorities if there is a gun in the house. Doctors are urged to ask children if there are guns in their home. A warrant was issued in California for a SWAT raid based on the mere picture of people holding unidentified guns which were legal.
Social media is being used to find gun owners. If you are not on the list of those who have registered, you have become a criminal. If you are forced to use the gun for self-defense, you will have committed a serious crime. It will become difficult to train your children in firearms safety or to bring friends or relatives into the gun culture. Any use of the now illegal gun will risk exposure, confiscation, arrest, and other penalties. With digital recording devices in nearly every pocket, in most businesses and homes, this becomes a serious threat. This essay explains how it could work.
New Zealand passed a ban on whole classes of guns recently. There has been massive non-compliance. The proponents of the ban admit gun registration is necessary to effectively confiscate the banned guns. Those pushing disarmament are now pushing for mandatory gun registration.
The theory to produce gradual disarmament is to slowly destroy the gun culture by administratively reducing the number of people who legally own guns. The people who urge gradual or immediate gun registration are attempting cultural genocide of the gun culture.
The practice, once guns are required to be registered, is to incrementally tighten the requirements of registration to reduce the number of gun owners. When the number is low enough to limit effective political action, the remaining legal guns can be confiscated with little political cost. The purpose is not to reduce the number of guns, precisely. It is to reduce the number of legal gun owners, to make sure all those who have guns are politically reliable. All societies have some gun owners. The political elite can always obtain guns. The political elite in San Francisco considers the National Rifle Association to be a terrorist organization. 32% of Democrats agree with them.
Gun registration has proven ineffective in reducing crime. Those who wish us disarmed often cite European countries’ crime rates. But crime rates in European countries were low before gun registration was implemented. The did not change much, up or down with gun registration. Under registration systems, crime may increase because of the transfer of police resources from crime-fighting to administer and police the political requirements of the gun registration scheme, and because of the number of people willing or able to use their firearms for self-defense will be reduced. There is no relationship between legal gun ownership, illegal gun ownership, and violent crime.
Self-defense is never acknowledged by those who wish us disarmed because it trumps their arguments for disarming the people. In those groups, it is a crime speak to admit the utility of guns for self-defense. The primary purpose of gun registration has always been to reduce the political power of the people rather than reduce the crime rate.
There have been three significant attempts to require gun registration in the United States. The first attempt was during the regime of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). In the original bill, all handguns were to have been registered, with a $200 ($3,800 in today’s dollars) federal tax. The provision was defeated by the NRA. FDR got the booby prize of requiring registration of a few seldom used or owned firearms and accessories. The people were saddled with the ineffective National Firearms Act of 1934, which registered machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, and silencers.
The second attempt at requiring gun registration started in 1968. Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) tried to pass a bill requiring all handguns to be registered. It was opposed by the NRA, and the registration requirement taken from the bill. As a compromise, Congress required gun dealers to obtain a federal license. Purchasers of guns from federally licensed dealers were required to fill out a form 4473 to take possession. Congress forbid the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms from constructing any national gun registration list from this data.
The third, ongoing, scheme was initiated in 1994. Congress passed the Brady Bill, which required handgun purchasers to undergo an instant check or a five-day wait to purchase a handgun. While parts of this act were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, a little known part of the bill went into effect in 1998, requiring all purchasers of firearms from licensed dealers to undergo an “instant check” before taking possession.
Two safeguards were built into the bill to ensure it would not be used to develop a national registration of firearms. First, the FBI is forbidden to keep any records of instant checks that allow the purchase. Second, the instant checks only applied to dealers, not to private sales. Since gun owners could sell their firearm without government permission, no registration list could effectively be developed. Effective gun confiscation was prevented.
Both of these safeguards have been under attack. The FBI refused to immediately destroy the instant check information, although required to do so by law. Their refusal was struck down in court. There is an ongoing campaign to eliminate the other safeguard, private sales. The campaign has been pushed as a requirement for “universal” background checks. Once private parties are forbidden from selling guns without government permission, universal registration comes from making those records permanent. The final step is to make possession of a gun that is *not* registered illegally.
Particularly troubling is the emphasis on guns seldom used in a crime, but which are very useful in militias. Groups who promised they only wished to limit handguns, now call for limiting the ownership of semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines.
Many models of guns which are rarely used in a crime, are now required to be registered, or illegal for people to own, in some states. Those laws are being challenged in court.
This desire to remove power from the people is reflected in the push to place severe restrictions on the sale of .50 BMG caliber rifles. The authors of the legislation don’t claim these guns are significant in crime.
Only one homicide in the United States appears to have been committed with a .50 caliber rifle, in the case of Adam Wickizer, in Moosic, Pennsylvania. The case likely involved a muzzle-loading rifle, not a .50 BMG caliber. The murderer was a convicted felon. Articles about the case do not identify the rifle.
The people who want to ban .50BMG caliber rifles wish to ban them because they have military purposes. One argument frequently heard by those pushing for gun registration, is to ban “weapons of war.”
The most explicit reason for the Second Amendment is to ensure the people retain a large measure of military power, to balance the power of the government. It is stated in the present participle of the Second Amendment, “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,” The people are to have the right to keep and bear arms, in part so that they can form militias. The Republic is in grave danger when congressmen openly state they fear military power in the hands of the people. Gun registration is advocated by people who want the power of government to be unlimited.
The only practical effect of gun registration is gun confiscation, whether it is done individually and piecemeal, as legal requirements to own a gun become more and more difficult, or en mass, when politicians feel the necessity to disarm citizens to further the politicians’ control, consolidate their, power, or prevent insurrection.
Governments that push for gun registration distrust their people and have earned the people’s distrust.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.