Six states and the District of Columbia require registration of some or all firearms. Hawaii and the District of Columbia require the registration of all firearms, California maintains a database of gun transfer records, and New York requires the registration of all handguns through its licensing law. Hawaii, New York, and four other states also have a registration system for certain highly dangerous firearms, such as assault weapons. These states generally ban such firearms, but allow the continued possession of grandfathered weapons if they were owned before the ban was adopted and are registered.
On the other hand:
Eight states are explicitly prohibited by law from maintaining a registry of any firearms. However, many of these prohibitions contain general categories of exceptions, such as records relating to persons who have been convicted of a crime. Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont prohibit keeping any registry of privately owned firearms. Pennsylvania prohibits any registry of long guns.
My home state of Kentucky does not have firearms registration, though there is no law prohibiting such. Wikipedia has a good list of firearms laws by state.
So, it was with some amusement that I read this tweet by Robert Francis
“Beta” “Beto” O’Rourke:
To be clear: We will buy back every single assault weapon.
We‘ll also license every gun & do a background check on every buyer. That’s what the American people want—and deserve.
The only thing stopping us from ending this epidemic is you & your cowardice. Do the right thing. https://t.co/lPqAv1r9ij
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 18, 2019
Really? “We‘ll also license every gun”? Now, just how is Mr O’Rourke going to do that? Here is Mr O’Rourke’s ‘plan’ from his campaign website:
Create a nationwide gun licensing system and registry. Beto will work with Congress to create a nationwide gun licensing system that will ensure individuals seeking a gun undergo an assessment by law enforcement and a background check. Individuals must be 21 years old to receive a license, will be required to complete a certified gun safety training, and will need to renew their licenses every five years. Individuals will also be required to register their guns through a registry and all new handguns will be microstamped. In recognition of the country’s long hunting tradition, those under 21 with hunting licenses will be able to lawfully possess firearms for hunting. States will have the flexibility to administer their own licensing systems, allowing them to set higher standards. Where a state does not have a system in place, the federal government will administer the system.
Implement a national buyback program for banned assault weapons and handguns. Weapons of war belong on the battlefield, not in our communities or on our streets. Beto is calling for a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons and a voluntary buyback program for handguns. To create a funding stream for buybacks, Beto will increase the excise tax on gun manufacturers and fines imposed on gun traffickers, and will enable ATF to purchase any banned assault weapons presented to the agency. Individuals who fail to participate in the mandatory buyback of assault weapons will be fined.
So, as President, Mr O’Rourke would:
- Deny adults 18 through 20 their Second Amendment rights;
- Require adults 21 and over to pass a test to be licensed to exercise their constitutional rights;
- Require adults 21 and over to renew their licenses to exercise their constitutional rights every five years;
- Allow law enforcement officials to conduct “an assessment” of individuals seeking to exercise their constitutional rights, though he doesn’t specify whether law enforcement officials can deny individuals seeking to purchase a firearm based on this “assessment” if it does not find the assessed individual legally ineligible to own firearms. Since Mr O’Rourke specified both “an assessment by law enforcement and a background check,” what can it mean other than the assessment is different than a criminal background check?;
- Require firearms owners to register their firearms, even if owned prior to the passage of the law, and
- Impose a “mandatory buy back” program for people who already own firearms that Mr O’Rourke doesn’t like.
Since only a few states have existing gun registration requirements, what would Mr O’Rourke do, send the gendarmerie¹ door-to-door, to search every house, to ensure compliance with registration laws? Because, make no mistake about it, many, many people would decline to comply with such a law. I’ve known too many people who would never comply with such ridiculousness; does Mr O’Rourke believe that it would be wise, or safe, to send government agents into the Appalachians to look for people with guns? On what basis would he send agents door-to-door to look for firearms? If they showed up without a warrant, homeowners would have every right to refuse them entrance, and the Fourth Amendment prohibits such general warrants:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Mr O’Rourke would attempt to turn citizens into criminals for exercising their Second Amendment rights. F(ornicate) that!
Of course, that’s part of what Mr O’Rourke wants: to turn those who would not comply with such an unconstitutional law into criminals, so that they cannot only be legally barred from owning firearms, but lose their rights to vote. Such would fall much more heavily on conservatives, greatly improving the chances for Democrats to win elections.
Mr O’Rourke’s campaign posters read “BETO for America,” but it seems as though the America he envisions is nothing like that foreseen by the Framers of the Constitution. He would subject our constitutional rights to a licensing procedure, decide just who is to be allowed to exercise those rights, and make felons of those who would not comply. The Bill of Rights was written to protect American citizens from demagogues like Beta O’Rourke.
¹ – I resisted using the term Schutzstaffel here, though I was sorely tempted.
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