Guest post by Gregory K. Taggart, courtesy of Slow Facts. Some editing by TPOL.
Question: “Why are gun owners against a central gun-owner database, also referred to as “Gun Registration”?
At its root, the concept of a central gun-owner database is closely related to “Universal Background Checks” which is a necessary mechanism to build such a data base. The premise is essentially that it is a “good idea” for the Government to know who owns the guns.
Consider a “Central Gun Owner Database” (CGWDB). Why are gun owners against one?
1. The gun-owner database has ABSOLUTELY no effect on CRIME. Why? Since it is illegal for criminals/felons to possess firearms, any requirement for criminals to register or be on the data base is “self-incrimination” under the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution. A criminal CANNOT BE PUNISHED for failing to register a firearm. There is no legal way to compel a criminal to be in the data base. So, the “data base” is simply a list of “LAW ABIDING PERSONS”. By definition, law-abiding persons do not figure much in “crime”.
2. That leads us to the next obvious question. What legitimate public policy interest is acheived by having a “List of the Non-Criminal Law-Abiding”? The response is, “Well, these gun owners might someday turn into a criminal actor and THEN we have a list of their guns.” So, the gun-control advocates want to a list of non-criminals maintained and updated on the off chance that a particular person MIGHT, in the future, potentially, just maybe, possibly become a crook?
When might such a list have any relevance? (Please notice I did not say “utility.”) The CGODB proponents will reply: “If formerly law-abiding, church deacon, dentist Fred Mertz, DDS, suddenly transforms himself into an amoral, raging criminal gangster, and he is on a list, the cops will be able to know he has a gun.”
The folks capable of critical thinking will note that the cops expect a “raging criminal gangster” to be armed no matter what he used to do or who he used to be. Law enforcement officers always assume that violent criminals are armed. A list isn’t necessary to show that the violent actor did, or didn’t, own a gun in the past.
Laws based on justice, in Liberty, seeks to punish actual evil actions, not fantasy, future, hypothetical “what-ifs” and “maybes”.
3. Being able to determine that law-abiding school teacher “Joe Schlabotnik owns a gun” is absolutely irrelevant to a criminal investigation. Beyond ownership, being able to determine that the gun found at a crime scene BELONGS to Joe Schlabotnik is irrelevant with regard to the crime. Finding the gun and determining its owner, proves absolutely nothing. The officer is interested in who used the gun to commit a violent crime.
“Yes, Officer Malloy, you found my gun. It was stolen from my gun locker recently- I have been out of town and just got back and just noticed it was stolen this morning. Thanks for finding my gun. I hope you find the guy who committed a crime with it- please notify me when it is no longer needed as evidence, I want my stolen property back.” Again, no list is needed.
4. When Corn Pop the gangster is busted carrying Joe Schlabotnik’s firearm, Corn Pop, a felon and a federal and state Prohibited Person, is already committing a felony. The felon is barred from owning a firearm no matter where the firearm came from. The justice system doesn’t need a “List” to prosecute Corn Pop.
Corn Pop doesn’t obey our laws. He has guns, but you cannot force him to be on any list, and you cannot punish him for not being on the list. Again, no list needed or even legally possible for Corn Pop. Corn Pop can still be prosecuted as a “felon in possession” or as a “possessor of a firearm while committing a criminal act”. A list isn’t needed to put Corn Pop in the Crossbars Hotel. If the prosecutor is willing to prosecute; often they are not- it might offend a particular political interest or demographic group.
5. To what use could a CGODB, namely a “List of Law-Abiding Gun Owners” potentially be put? Hmm. Let me think for a moment… the old post WWI German Weimar Republic was “social democratic”, rigorously legal, but typically bureaucratic as seems to characterize Germans. In Weimar Germany, Law-Abiding citizens were graciously allowed to own firearms, provided they had been checked and investigated and had the proper stamps and proper permissions and paid the proper fees.
The Kriminal Amt – the Police- kept the records, namely a list of those law-abiding Germans. Today we would call it a “Database”. No criminals were on the list.
Even in 1920’s Germany, no criminal would be so stupid as to be on the “List” of gun owners- it was already illegal for a criminal to have a gun. At that time, my grandfather’s relatives, distant Jewish cousins, lived in Baden-Württemberg. They did not hunt, being ritually observant, but they did have a few firearms for sporting purposes and maybe for personal security as well; who knows?
As law-abiding German citizens, they complied with the 1928 Firearms Law; they had received all the official permissions and vouchers and approvals and paid the fees. In short, they were on the official “List” of gun owners at Police Headquarters.
In 1933, the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP) rose to power. As the NSDAP assumed control of all facets of government, the new regime was very interested in the ownership of firearms, especially the ownership of firearms by their political opponents and by Jews and those of the “slave races”. They certainly found the CGODB created by the 1928 Weimar law to be very useful. The Nazis knew exactly all the law-abiding non-criminals who possessed firearms and where they were kept and exactly what those firearms were. The new government did not care much about the criminal thugs who had illegal guns; they had a vital interest in the people on the List. Neither my Jewish cousins, or their children or other progeny are available for comment because they were disarmed and murdered by the state.
Can someone please explain to me, again, just WHAT LEGITIMATE PURPOSE does a “Central Gun-Owner Database” serve? I will wait patiently for the answer.
And “Just Because” does not count.