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The fallacy of gun registration

By Charles Bloomer
web posted July 14, 2008

One of the gun grabbers' favorite "common sense" gun control measures is gun registration.  As with other gun control schemes, the anti-gun crowd never considers whether or not the particular "common sense" law actually does anything constructive.  In actuality, the "common sense" gun laws are grossly deficient in common sense.

Last week on WTOP radio's "Ask the Chief" program, Washington, DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier inadvertently admitted that the District's gun registration program was a failure.  According to the Chief, "Honestly, there are thousands of handguns that were registered in the city and I don't know whether those handguns are still in the city."  Of the 41,000 handguns registered, the police department cannot account for 36,000.

The handguns in question were registered back in 1976 when the District's near-total handgun ban became law.  The law grandfathered handguns that already existed in the city, but required the owners to register them.  The owners of 41,000 handguns dutifully registered the guns.  Yet now, 32 years later, the District does not know where 88% of those handguns are.

I have some follow-up questions to ask the Chief.

What purpose did registration fulfill?  Did the program keep guns out of the hands of criminals?  Did the registration scheme prevent handguns from flooding the city?

What contribution did the registration of handguns make to:

Solving crimes,
Denying guns to criminals,
Reducing violent crime,
Keeping guns off the street, or
Public safety?

How much taxpayer money was wasted in the administration of the gun registration program?  How many police man-hours were wasted – man-hours would have been more effective patrolling and protecting the city?

How much time was wasted by the citizens of DC in complying?

How much money do you intend to waste in your planned audit of the system?

Is it really necessary for the government of DC to "account" for private handguns?  What purpose does that serve?  Does the police department really need to know where every gun is?  Why?

Since this example of handgun registration has been shown to be an absolute failure and a total waste of time and effort, do you still intend to push for a new handgun registration requirement as the city implement's the Supreme Court's decision in Heller?  How much of the taxpayers' money are you going waste in implementing the new registration requirement?  Since you complained that paper records were so hard to audit, I expect that you will want to automate the new system.  How many millions of dollars are you going to ask for to buy the necessary software, computers, and other hardware?  Would those millions be better spent on police work?

Do you intend to emulate Chicago's aggressive registration scheme that requires re-registration every year?  Given Chicago's violent crime rate, don't you feel that Chicago might not be a good role model?

It must be painfully obvious to the Chief that a favorite anti-gun tool is worthless.  The handgun registration program did nothing to reduce violent crime in Washington, DC.  No crimes were solved using the information gathered.  Evidently, no crimes were committed with those registered guns.  Or, if there were, the registration list was of no help.

Yet, despite the failure of gun registration to contribute anything of value to crime fighting, crime solving, or public safety, the city's lawmakers intend to pursue another worthless gun registration scheme as a part of their revamped gun laws.  It would be too much to ask of rabid gun-grabbers to actually use some common sense and consider the effectiveness of the laws they intend to pass.  Gun registration, as with ballistic fingerprinting and other nonsense requirements, may not reduce crime or make the public safer, but those laws and requirements make the officials feel better.

Only one reason exists for government to require gun registration – potential gun confiscation.  That scenario has already happened in California where so-called "assault weapons" were first required to be registered, then banned and confiscated.  It can't happen here?  It already has.

Criminals do not register guns.  Felons do not register their illegally-held guns.  In fact, requiring a felon to register a handgun is a Constitutional violation, since government mandated registration would require a felon to self-incriminate, a violation of the Fifth Amendment.  The only people who will register their guns are law-abiding citizens.

The worthless DC gun registration programs, past and future are not about gun control.  These programs are actually about people control.  The people of Washington, DC deserve better.

To paraphrase Voltaire, common sense among gun grabbers is not so common after all. ESR

Charles Bloomer is a Contributing Editor for Enter Stage Right.  His website is Liberty Call U.S. © 2008 by Charles Bloome

 


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