Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Licensing And Registration

Saturday, October 7, 2000

Some people may wonder why NRA members and millions of other American gun owners protest so loudly when the gun control lobby offers one more "reasonable solution" to problems that they associate with guns. They may even be aware that Sarah Brady, chair of the nation`s largest anti-gun group--Brady Campaign (previously Handgun Control, Inc.)--years ago discussed her plans for the future with the New York Times. She said in her Aug. 15, 1993, interview that her group favors a "needs-based licensing" system, with all guns and all gun transfers registered. In the Brady world, an honest citizen who wanted to own a gun would have to prove to his or her local police the "need" for that gun.

Constitutional issues aside, those who wonder what motivates American gun owners should understand that perhaps only one other word in the English language so boils their blood as "registration," and that word is "confiscation." Gun owners fiercely believe those words are ominously related.

Gun owners also know that criminals will never register their illegally possessed guns and, in fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Haynes v. U.S. (309 U.S. 85 (1968)) that since felons are prohibited from owning firearms, compelling them to register them would violate their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Gun owners know further that the registration and licensing of America`s 60-65 million gun owners and their estimated 230 million firearms would require creation of a huge bureaucracy at tremendous taxpayer cost, without any tangible anti-crime benefit.

Gun registration is, of course, hardly new, and neither are its widely recognized dangers. In 1975, U.S. Sen. James A. McClure (R-ID) said: "Gun registration is the first step toward ultimate and total confiscation, the first step in a complete destruction of a cornerstone of our Bill of Rights." When Sen. McClure sponsored the Firearms Owners` Protection Act (1986), he made sure that it included a prohibition against the federal government keeping a national registry of gun owners. Similar prohibitive language appears in the Brady Act and in annual appropriations bills.

Others recognize gun registration`s inherent purpose. In 1975 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Crime, anti-gun advocate Charles Morgan, director of the Washington, D.C., office of the American Civil Liberties Union stated: "I have not one doubt, even if I am in agreement with the National Rifle Association, that that kind of record-keeping procedure is the first step to eventual confiscation under one administration or another."

Registration lists have led to gun confiscation in Australia, Bermuda, Cuba, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, Soviet Georgia and other countries. It has also happened here, and the history of firearms registration in New York City is particularly instructive.

In 1967, New York City passed an ordinance requiring a citizen to obtain a permit to own a rifle or shotgun, which would then be registered. Concerns over the potential use of those registration lists to confiscate guns in the future were dismissed as paranoia. In 1991, gun owners` legitimate fears were realized, when the city passed a ban on the private possession of some semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, despite the police commissioner`s testimony that no registered firearms of the types banned had been used in violent crimes in the city. New Yorkers who had been licensed earlier to possess semi-automatic rifles and shotguns were told that any licensed firearms that were covered by the ban had to be surrendered, rendered inoperable or taken out of the city. They were warned that they might be subject to "spot checks."

American gun owners know their fears about licensing and registration are hardly unfounded, because they are familiar with the sorry story of gun control in Great Britain. This story is concisely told in the monograph, "Lost Battles, Lost Rights," written by David B. Kopel, adjunct professor of law at New York University Law School.

As Kopel recounts, after passage of the Firearms Act of 1920, Britons suddenly could possess pistols and rifles only if they proved they had "good reason" for receiving a police permit. Then, in 1936, the British police began adding a permit requirement requiring that the guns be stored securely.

As the public grew accustomed to the idea of guns being licensed, it became possible to begin to enforce the licensing requirements with greater and greater stringency. By enforcing the Firearms Act with moderation, at first, and then with gradually increasing severity, the British government acclimated British gun owners to higher and higher levels of control.

An English court decision reveals how far this control has gone. The London Times reports that on March 6, 2000, a judge denied an appeal by Arthur Mark Farrer to renew his license to own a shotgun. Farrer`s license, or "shotgun certificate," allowed him to own a shotgun as long as he stored it in compliance with increasingly severe British storage laws. He kept his gun in a safe at his mother`s house. But when he told his mother where the key to the safe was kept, the police licensing bureau was not pleased--81-year-old mom had no license. The judge agreed, ruling Farrer "was in breach of the condition prescribed by rule . . . that he should store the gun securely so as to prevent . . . access to it by an unauthorised person."

The judge cited a section of English law stating that a person can be granted a certificate if the chief of police is "satisfied that the applicant could be permitted to possess a shotgun without danger to the public safety or the peace." Since Farrer trusted his mother access to the shotgun, he did not qualify.

Today, in Great Britain, handguns are banned. Semi-automatic center-fire rifles, which had been legally owned for nearly a century, are banned. Pump-action rifles are banned, since it was argued that these guns could be substituted for semi-automatics. Shotguns that can hold more than two shells at once now require a "firearms license" and are thus registered, and shotguns that can hold only two rounds require a "shotgun certificate."

American parallels are obvious. Enactment of the Brady Act, for example, establishes the principle of a national gun licensing system. Once a lenient national handgun licensing system is established, the licensing system can gradually be tightened, and police, as they have done in Great Britain, can begin inventing their own conditions to put on licenses. Such practices already occur in American jurisdictions such as New York, where licensing authorities sometimes add their own extralegal restrictions to handgun licenses.

Those, who from time to time wonder about what American gun owners think and why they think it, should realize that those who believe in their Second Amendment-guaranteed right will fight mightily to prevent this nation from becoming, like Great Britain, a place where the rights of gun owners are slowly strangled to death because too many people trusted politicians who did not trust them.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Registration & Licensing
TRENDING NOW
Florida Alert! Gun Bills Filed in Florida - SO FAR

Friday, January 15, 2021

Florida Alert! Gun Bills Filed in Florida - SO FAR

As Legislators begin to file bills for the 2021 Florida Legislative Session, we are getting questions about various bills due to media reports on gun bills.  Below is a partial list of bills we will ...

Biden to Nominate Anti-Second Amendment Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General

News  

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Biden to Nominate Anti-Second Amendment Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General

President-elect Joe Biden announced he will nominate U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General. Biden’s choice of a noted Second Amendment opponent to lead the Department ...

NRA Dumps New York to Reincorporate in Texas, Announces New Strategic Plan

News  

Friday, January 15, 2021

NRA Dumps New York to Reincorporate in Texas, Announces New Strategic Plan

Today, the NRA announced a restructuring plan that positions us for the long-term and ensures our continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New ...

ATF Withdraws Pistol Brace “Guidance”

News  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

ATF Withdraws Pistol Brace “Guidance”

On December 23rd, ATF posted a document to its website indicating that its recently published Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Stabilizing Braces” is withdrawn.

Record Amount of Gun Control Legislation Introduced on First Day of Bill Pre-Filing for 2021 Texas Legislative Session

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Record Amount of Gun Control Legislation Introduced on First Day of Bill Pre-Filing for 2021 Texas Legislative Session

Although the 2021 session of the Texas Legislature convenes on January 12, gun control advocates financed by New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg and Beto "Hell Yeah, I'll Take Your Guns" O'Rourke wasted no time in announcing their ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Montana: House Passes Permitless Carry Legislation

Friday, January 15, 2021

Montana: House Passes Permitless Carry Legislation

Yesterday, the Montana House passed self-defense legislation, House Bill 102, by a 66 to 31 vote. 

NRA Signs MOU with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

News  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

NRA Signs MOU with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The NRA signed a memorandum of understanding with the USFWS to assist in the recruitment, education, and retaining of sportsmen and women via  NRA’s education and outreach programs.

Representative Richard Hudson Reintroduces Bi-Partisan Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

News  

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Representative Richard Hudson Reintroduces Bi-Partisan Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

Last week, Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC) reintroduced H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would give more meaningful effect to those rights by ensuring they stay intact as travelers crossed state lines.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Want to Destroy the Second Amendment

News  

Monday, November 2, 2020

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Want to Destroy the Second Amendment

While discussion of the Second Amendment and gun control have been noticeably absent from the presidential debates and mainstream media coverage, gun rights are without a doubt on the ballot tomorrow.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.