NYT: Who’s Afraid of a National Gun Registry?

 Bridge Gulch, site of the Bridge Gulch Massacre (courtesy topozone.com)

“The dark and nonsensical fantasy that the United States government will one day transform itself into a jackbooted fascist state and seize American weaponry has long been peddled by the gun lobby to stir up donations to its cause,” today’s New York Times editorial opines. “It is the reason the federal background check system is not allowed to keep records of people who are approved to buy guns — advocates claimed that doing so would lead to a national gun registry and thus a road map for the storm troopers to know whose door to kick down in their rabid search for a revolver.” More likely a modern sporting rifle but we understand alliteration’s artistic allure. Anyway, true dat. Highlight and delete the word “nonsensical” and I’d say that’s a fair characterization. So what’s the Times’ indaba? Apparently, it’s that we already have a registry . . .

But licensed dealers already have to keep records of their gun sales when they conduct background checks, which makes the opposition to the same requirement for private sellers particularly absurd. If those records — which are kept for the majority of gun sales — haven’t led to a registry, why should the expanded requirement?

Ah yes, the gun dealer’s “bound book.”

By law, all federal firearms licensees (a.k.a., gun dealers) must record all firearms sales (with info gathered via purchase form 4473) in the book and maintain these records for 20 years. The ATF can request access to the book as part of a criminal investigation. You know; with a warrant and all.

Under the terms of the Firearms Owners Protection Act, the ATF (or any other local, state or federal agency) are not allowed to create a database of guns or gun owners using data from this book.

In the real world, the ATF has plenty o’ firearms databases. But the wider point remains: Uncle Sam doesn’t have a [legal] national gun registry based on the dealers’ bound-book. For exactly the “dark and nonsensical reasons” that the Times derides.

Politicians who respect both the Firearms Owners Protection Act and their constituents’ Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, and have even the most tenuous grasp of the connection between disarmament and death and dismemberment, see a government maintained “universal background check” as a non-starter. Needless to say, the Times has a different view . . .

It sounds as if this last-minute issue is simply a lame excuse to kill the bill for those lawmakers already under pressure from the National Rifle Association. For the sake of future gun victims, lawmakers should ignore this lobbying and pass a background-check bill with a strong requirement for keeping records.

Wow. It “sounds as if”? In other words, there may be some merit in this argument but it’s probably the NRA obstructing legislation for obstruction’s sake? Hey Times, what if it isn’t?

Would you really risk the possibility of a government run amok and killing—yes disarming, interning and murdering—tens of thousands of people to “make the work of law enforcement easier” and “save” “future gun victims”?

I guess they would. Which is why we wouldn’t.

[Note from wikipedia: "The Bridge Gulch Massacre, also known as the Hayfork Massacre or Natural Bridge Massacre, occurred on 23 April 1852, when more than 150 Wintu people were killed by about 70 American men led by William H. Dixon, the Trinity County sheriff." Map above.]