United States – -(AmmoLand.com)- One of the biggest red lines Second Amendment supporters have drawn is the registration of firearms – and anti-Second Amendment extremists have known that for a long time. So, they try to find ways to sneak registration – or at least the groundwork for registration – past those who defend Second Amendment rights. One such bill trying to do that is HR 4255, the Trafficking Reduction And Criminal Enforcement (TRACE) Act, introduced by Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL).
In a release, Quigley claims his legislation is intended to help reduce gun trafficking by “improving gun tracking data.” One of the provisions that is intended to do so is the requirement that the gun’s serial number be also placed in a hidden location inside the firearm’s receiver. This is similar to the practice of hiding a car’s VIN – the purpose being to combat auto theft by making efforts to alter or wipe out the VIN moot. The legislation also requires dealers to do physical checks of their inventory. It should be noted that stealing firearms and altering or eliminating serial numbers are already prohibited by 18 USC 922.
Now, it does make sense for those who exercise their Second Amendment rights to take measures to safeguard against theft, and if their firearms are stolen (which, sadly, happens) to also have measures that can ensure their return if recovered. That being said, often, those measures are best left up to the individual gun owners and firearms manufacturers. One-size fits all government mandates don't work.
That being said, to those who don’t follow Second Amendment issues closely, those parts of the legislation seem reasonable. However, it is a very bad piece of legislation. Quigley’s bill has received the support of the Brady Campaign, Everytown, and the Violence Policy Center. Or, in other words, there are three very huge red flags about this bill for any knowledgeable Second Amendment supporter. That’s because Quigley’s legislation goes further than the hidden serial number and the physical inventory checks.
It also repeals the Tiahrt Amendment, which prohibits the retention of record from the National Instant Check System (NICS). Quigley’s legislation would permit the retention to take place for 180 days – roughly six months. Lots of mischief would take place. Quigley’s legislation would also require FFLs to report their inventories to the government. In other words, the government would be keeping a lot of data on aw-abiding Americans.
Why? It’s about carrying out the strategy Nelson “Pete” Shields revealed long ago: “The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition – except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors – totally illegal.”
Today, of course, you can also add modern multi-purpose semiautomatic rifles and shotguns to the list of guns Shields wanted to ban. Expanding the retention of records and requiring FFLs to send inventory reports to the government is a “slice” towards “solving” the second “problem” Shields articulated. That alone explains why three anti-Second Amendment groups support it.
Of course, there are already very tough laws for misusing firearms. For instance, a convicted felon in possession of a stolen gun with an altered or obliterated serial number faces 25 years in prison according to the provisions of 18 USC 922 and 18 USC 924. And, as the NRA documented in 1999, even one small gun trafficking op can get someone a lot of jail time.
Second Amendment supporters should take the time to contact their Representative and Senators and politely urge them to oppose this legislation. When it comes to dealing with the misuse of firearms, registration is not the answer, and the failure to enforce laws on the books should not be rewarded by allowing the stage to be set for a registration system.
About Harold Hutchison
Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics, and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post, Strategypage.com, and other national websites.