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What “Strong Case” for Gun Registration?

Friday, June 3, 2016

What “Strong Case” for Gun Registration?

Most guns aren’t registered, most gun owners aren’t licensed, and firearm-related violent crime is at nearly an all-time low, but in the New York Times on Monday, gun control supporter Alan Berlow claimed that “the case for registration and licensing is stronger now than ever.”

The rest of Berlow’s theory is just as illogical. Berlow says that because the federal government hasn’t confiscated the fully-automatic firearms, “short”-barreled rifles and shotguns, and suppressors (“silencers”) that are registered under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), it wouldn’t confiscate other firearms, if they were registered in the future.

As for what other firearms Berlow thinks should be registered, in 2012 he wrote, “many easily obtainable semi-automatic weapons, including many designed for use by the military, are no less dangerous, and in many cases far more dangerous, than the guns covered by the ’34 National Firearms Act (NFA). Yet no licensing or registration is required. The ’34 law should be updated with assault rifles and many other highly lethal weapons brought under its purview.”

For the record and for the umpteenth time, the semi-automatic rifles that gun control supporters call “assault rifles” are not designed for military use; military service rifles are capable of fully-automatic fire. And Berlow’s idea, first advocated by the Violence Policy Center in 2003, that semi-automatic rifles are “far more dangerous” than selective-fire rifles used by the military is just plain silly.

So is Berlow’s NFA argument. For starters, the federal government has never attempted to confiscate firearms registered under the NFA because, before any confiscation effort could begin, gun control supporters would have to convince Congress and the president to ban the possession of NFA guns. And thus far, gun control supporters have focused their gun-prohibition campaigns on other, more common categories of guns.

Handguns, for example. In the 1970s, the Brady Campaign, then called the National Council to Control Handguns, said, “There are now 40 million handguns owned by private individuals in the United States . . . . [T]he number could build to 100 million by the year 2000 . . . . The consequences can be terrible to imagine—unless something is done. It said, “The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second problem 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.”

We’re willing to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to anyone who thinks that the Brady Campaign wouldn’t resume its campaign against handguns, if such a campaign appeared to have a significant chance of success. And lest any of Berlow’s readers think that his record-keeping interest is limited to owners of AR-15s and other detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles, Berlow has separately advocated background checks and a single, permanent database for all gun sales.

Berlow hoped to advance the cause of gun registration. Instead, though it took him several commentaries to do so, Berlow showed why NRA is right to oppose gun registration, gun owner licensing, expanded background checks for gun purchases, and the permanent retention of records on people who pass those checks.

As Berlow made clear, this isn’t the 1970s and early 1980s, when the Brady Campaign and other gun control supporters pretended they wanted to get only handguns or compact handguns banned. Today, all guns and their owners are somewhere on gun control supporters’ list of things to restrict.


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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.