Got another letter from the National Association for Gun Rights. Dudley Brown wrote to tell me that Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) was at it again, trying to sneak through a bill which would be The End Of Freedom As We Know It. Apparently, the Pass ID Act would lead to a uniform federal ID that would lead to federal gun registration which would lead to . . . you guessed it . . . firearms confiscation. The Obama Administration, the Democrat-controlled Congress and Senator Akaka proclaim that the Act is a vital tool in the Global War on Terror: a way to tell the good guys from the bad guys that’s got no more to do with despotic government than Barney the Dinosaur. Should we send the National Association for Gun Rights a check or stand by our Homeland. Why don’t we start with reading the bill.
I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV), but it seems pretty clear that Senate Bill S.1261 [peruse text here] aims to fix portions of the REAL ID Act of 2005 with some less-noxious and objectionable rules for a nationwide ID plan.
Near as I can figure, the Feds want to combine all the state’s IDs (for instance Drivers Licenses) into a single database, so they can more quickly ID people when they need to. Kind of like CSI, where the lab guys scan a fingerprint and get a match within seconds (well before the commercial).
If the bill passes, bringing all the States’ IDs into compliance (i.e., if they all ask all the same questions), the feds can then merge all the data into one big relational database. The feds would create what amounts to a National ID card.
The feds reckon the new ID would be less likely to be counterfeited (good luck with that), machine-readable (like your credit card, only scarier) and . . . flexible. Just in case Uncle Sam needs a valid ID for other purposes. Like, say, buying a gun.
This is where the gun guys get all bent out of shape. As always, they’re worried that the feds want to/will know what guns they have—so that they can come and get ’em. Why would Uncle Sam want to do that? The least paranoid believe that the feds would confiscate guns to protect the populace from itself. The more, uh, concerned think that total tyranny is only a gun grab away.
The basic thought here: privacy protects legal gun owners from the long arm of the law. You know; if and when.
Unfortunately (in some senses), privacy is a myth. Traffic cams, RFID chips, debit cards, IRS returns, wire taps, bank account records, phone records – do you really think that the government doesn’t already have the ability to know all about you? Sure, some of this information is protected by the need for a judge’s signature. But not all of it. Not even most of it.
At the moment, Uncle Sam doesn’t keep an inventory of privately-held firearms. Why would it be any more likely to do so with a national ID card than it is right now? Because it would be easier? It’s a good argument.
But not a great one. Any such scheme would have to clear Congress. Even if it didn’t—if a “we need to see (record) your federal ID for any firearms purchase” regulation was put in place by Executive order or a departmental fiat—there would be hell to pay.
Meanwhile, why shouldn’t the government be able to make sure that someone who presents an ID for air travel or employment is who they say they are? The law enforcement guys say they need a “real ID” to stop terrorists. Sometimes a better ID is a better ID.
Equally important, just because the feds can do something doesn’t mean they will. While vigilance is always a good thing, sometimes you gotta pick your paranoia. Gun grabbers or terrorists? The Katrina gun grab is a fact. But so is 911.
While I like the fact that the feds are too inefficient to threaten my Second Amendment rights, I don’t want to see another terrorist attack. Despite the gun lobby’s Chicken Little fund raising routine, the Pass Act will pass without major opposition from gun owners. Not because they’re ignorant. Because they’re not.