The holy grail of the anti self defense and anti rights special interest groups is gun registration. This is because once your gun is required to be registered, it is in effect, already confiscated. Only 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 Britian, Australia, New York, and California. Not having possession of the firearm registered to you can be grounds for criminal action. If you have reported the gun stolen, and it is then found in your possession, you can be charged with obstruction of justice.
It is a truism that once all guns are required to be registered, the only people who will legally possess guns will be those who have registered them. If you choose to follow the course of civil disobedience, and not register your firearms, mere possession of an unregistered gun can put you at grave legal risk. Civil disobedience has been the most common course of action in California and Canada, where it has proven impossible to enforce the laws requiring registration. If you choose this course of action, you would now be at the mercy of any informant who discovers that you possess a gun illegally. Children in the public schools are already being trained to tell the police if there is a gun in the house. Doctors are being 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. The picture had been sent to the police by an informant in the film developing company. 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 extremely difficult to train your children in firearms safety or to bring friends or relatives into the gun culture. In a few years, the number of people with personal knowledge of guns will be much smaller. The people who urge gradual or immediate gun registration are attempting cultural genocide of the gun culture.
The common practice, once guns are required to be registered, is to gradually tighten the requirements of registration to reduce the number of gun owners. When the number is low enough to limit effective political action by the members of the gun culture affected, the remaining guns can be confiscated with little effort.
Gun registration has proven to be universally ineffective in reducing crime. In fact, crime is likely to 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 reduced number of people willing or able to use their firearms for self defense. Self defense is never acknowledged by the anti rights special interest groups because it trumps their arguments for disarming the people. The primary purpose of gun registration has always been to reduce the political power of the people rather than reduce the crime rate.
The current attempt at requiring gun registration started in 1968, when congress required gun dealers to obtain a federal license, and 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, although a registration scheme of purchasers of more than one handgun within a week has been kept on the grounds that it was started before the congressional action forbidding such, and is therefore "grandfathered". 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 had been built into the bill to insure that it would not be used to develop a national registration of firearms. First, the FBI was forbidden to keep any records of instant checks that allow purchase. Second, the instant checks only applied to dealers, not to private sales. Since any gun owner could sell their firearm whenever they wished, without government permission, no registration list could effectively be developed, and effective gun confiscation was prevented.
During the last year, both of these safeguards have been under attack. The FBI has refused to immediately destroy the instant check information, although required to do so by law. Recently a three judge panel in Washington, D. C. has voted two to one to uphold their ability to do so. Both judges voting for gun registration are Clinton appointees. The Clinton administration has been vociferously promoting the elimination of the other safeguard, private sales, which they call the "gun show loophole". Once private parties are forbidden from selling guns without government permission, it is only a matter of time before all guns and gun owners who are not registered are illegal.
I find particularly troubling the emphasis during the last decade on guns that are seldom used in crime, but are quite useful in military service. The same people who stated that they were only interested in limiting handguns, now call for limiting the ownership of military style rifles. Many models of guns which are almost never used in crime, are now illegal for people to own in some locations. The latest outrageous attempt to remove power from the people is to place severe restrictions on the sale of .50 caliber rifles. The authors of this bill don't even claim that these guns are used in crime. They want to ban them because they have a military purpose! The clearest reason for the Second Amendment to the Constitution is to insure that the people retain a large measure of military power, to balance the power of the government. The republic is in grave danger when congressmen openly state that they fear military power in the hands of the people.
The only purpose of gun registration is gun confiscation, whether it is done individually and piecemeal, as the legal requirements to own a gun become more and more difficult, or en mass, when the government feels the necessity to disarm its citizens in order to further its control.
Governments that push for gun registration distrust their people, and have earned the people's distrust.
I wrote this essay in 2000.