- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What could be wrong with universal background checks for firearms ownership if creating a firearms registry from the data is punishable by prison time and fines? The answer is twofold.

First, information is power, and our government is already far too powerful and intrusive at the expense of the people. The purpose of the Second Amendment is just as crucial to the survival of our republic now as it was when it was ratified in 1791. That purpose is to maintain a balance of power between the government and the people. For that purpose to be accomplished, firearms ownership must be both widespread and anonymous. Information concerning who owns firearms and ammunition simply must not be available to the government if the checks and balances built into our system to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people are to continue to work.

Second, just because creating a registry would be punishable, what guarantee is there that such punishment would ever be imposed, or that a registry, once created, would ever be destroyed or its existence would even be admitted to? The answer is: None.

The executive and legislative branches of government both routinely decline to enforce existing laws at their whim. Only a simpleton could believe the punishment clause in the current proposed universal background-check scheme would be somehow carved in stone. The truth is that government simply can’t be trusted with a list of firearms owners.


The impairment of a citizen’s Second Amendment rights is a very serious matter, and events important enough to justify impairment are all documented. All that is necessary to accomplish the advertised goals of universal background checks is to compile those existing legal and mental-health records into a list and make it available to firearms dealers. If the federal government can afford to provide $42 billion for an unnecessary, unwanted high-speed train in California, surely it can afford to collect and compile existing records into a list.

So the question becomes, why hasn’t Congress already created just such a firearms background-check system, one that would stop criminals and the mentally unstable from purchasing firearms, yet never generate data that could be used to create a firearms registry? The sad answer is, because it would never generate data that could be used to create a firearms registry.

HARRY STRAWBRIDGE

Atwater, Calif.