A national database of gun owners could be a good idea

050313gunsIf one accepts the paranoia of the National Rifle Association and its insane followers, the whole concept behind the push for an expanded background check of those who want to buy deadly weapons is really a secret plan to create a national database of gun owners.

The NRA, of course, doesn’t want a detailed list of who actually owns a gun because such a list could reveal that many gun owners should never, ever, be allowed near a weapon.

They feel that any restrictions on the purported Constitutional right to own and bear arms hurts the gun industry that is the only real constituency of the NRA.  That industry, which showers the association with cash, is the only group that the NRA really cares about.

When you get past the hysterical hyperbole used by the acerbic and increasingly erratic NRA spokesman Wayne Lapierre, you realize that what the association wants is a system where gun owners are above the laws that govern Americans in so many other areas.

If you own and drive a car, that right to drive and the ownership of that vehicle are parts of records kept by states and shared with other states through databases.  If you vote, you are part of a datbase.

Is keeping records of vehicle owners unconstitutional?  Of course not.  Is governing the right to drive by keeping track of violations an invasion of privacy?  No, it’s not.

Last year, I wrecked my motorcycle when I laid the Harley down to try and avoid hitting a black cow on a dark road late at night.  Because I suffered a closed-head injury with possible brain damage, my condition was reported to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, which suspended my right to drive until my 55 days of hospitalization was over and a neru0-psychologist provided the Commonwealth of Virginia with a letter saying my head injury problems were resolved.

I also own firearms and hold a concealed carry permit in Virginia, as do must of us here at Capitol Hill Blue, so I wondered if a brain injury affected those laws as well.  When I contacted my local sheriff’s department, the chief deputy said he didn’t know and would have to check with the state.  What he found was no provision in the law to suspend my right to carry a firearm during treatment of a head injury and possible brain damage.

“In Virginia, a head injury can affect your right to drive but not your right to own, carry or use a gun,” he said.

If I had been confined to a mental institution, my rights as a gun owner could have been affected but I could have come out of a coma with the mind of a child and it could have affected my right to drive but not the right to own or use a gun.  Current laws on those with mental problems are that vague.

After a child of mine died in an auto accident caused by a truck driver under the influence of drugs over 20 years ago, I joined others in lobbying for a national database of commercial drivers’ license holders because that driver held multiple CDLs from several states and had a record in some that should have disqualified him from driving an 18-wheeler in all states.  The lack of a national database allowed him to stay on the road and he killed my child, her husband, and children.

Thanks to our efforts, the federal government now has a national database of CDL holders.  It was long overdue.   That truck driver, thankfully, will die in prison.

Is such a database a violation of the Constitution or an invasion of privacy?

No.  It’s a public service that makes roads safer in this nation.

And a national database of gun owners could be a tool that helps create a safer society as well.

___

Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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23 Responses to "A national database of gun owners could be a good idea"

  1. Keith  May 3, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Chief,

    You make some salient points.

    However, comparing one’s fitness to own and/or carry a concealed weapon with driving a motor vehicle is an “apples and oranges” argument.

    The truth is that, regardless of the number of databases one creates to track them, there are STILL going to be over 270 MILLION firearms floating around in private hands in the United States.

    And, unlike when one operates a motor vehicle (which is a rather obvious undertaking to all…including members of “law enforcement”), carrying a concealed weapon (or having one stored in a closet or desk drawer in your home) is most often anything BUT “obvious” to such persons and can very easily be kept from sight.

    Clearly, you are absolutely correct that someone who is mentally unbalanced shouldn’t have access to such weaponry. But how do you propose such persons be screened, identified and then tracked? Are you suggesting people should also submit to psychiatric testing before being granted such permission? If so, how would such a program be implemented and the results tracked? Should such testing be made retroactive for people who already own firearms? Would YOU submit yourself to such testing?

    Indeed, one of the recent Boston Bombers was included (along with some 870,000 others) in the USA’s highly secret national terrorist database. Yet his intent to both build and detonate a bomb at the Boston Marathon somehow slipped through the cracks. Perhaps that’s because such databases simply track names, addresses and other personal information of people. And, the bigger the database becomes, the harder it is for “law enforcement” to keep track of it all.

    Or, to put it another way, if “law enforcement” clearly missed the intent of one out of some 870,000 other “bad guys”, how do you expect they are going to be any more effective in tracking the intent of the millions of people who now own the over 270 MILLION firearms now in private hands in the United States?

    Databases do a wonderful job of tracking people’s demographics. But they do a horrible job of ALSO measuring people’s mental “fitness” and “intent”.

  2. Kyle  May 3, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Driving is a privilege. Keeping and bearing arms is a God-given right acknowledged and protected by the Constitution. Big difference between a right and a privilege.

  3. Sandy Price  May 3, 2013 at 8:53 am

    California has no problem removing drivers licenses from anyone who has traffic violations. My age group is always checked out when we need a license renewal. A poorly driven car is a weapon that can be checked.

    Doug mentioned the paranoia that is growing among many who fear a phantom ghost that dwells in our federal government. Taking a deeper look at this ghost can’t help but remember the commercials blasted at all of us during the 2000 Presidential election where Islam was our main enemy.

  4. griff6r  May 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Sorry, but the constitutional right to keep and bear arms is not “purported.”

    And really, this government, like all others past and present, will abuse such powers once they’ve been granted.

    So naive to believe this government can be trusted or that it acts in any way other than to expand its own power and control.

    In fact, the expansion of government power in all aspects of American life has only made things worse. But that doesn’t stop the average American from clamoring for more, more, more…

    It’s pathetic, actually.

  5. Joe  May 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    It strikes me that the NRA has morphed to being something entirely different than a Gun Manufacturers lobby (It long ago stopped being a hunter’s lobby). They may be a big funder, but I think you need to look a bit beyond the gun seller influence to see who they are selling them to.
    It strikes me that they are really a stealth lobby for criminals wanting to get guns and those that are arming themselves for the purposes of overthrowing the US gov’t. 44% of the Republican party and 33% of the general population just copped to that.
    My guess is that these two groups when combined are far bigger than the self-protection and hunter segments.
    The 2nd amendment arguments are for-the-most-part proxies for the stealth agenda of arming for the revolution.
    Consider the uproar over publishing the names/addresses of CCW holders in NY recently. If having a gun really made you safer, would not you want everyone to know that you are armed and ready to fire on anyone assaulting your castle? Clearly it does not make you safer and the gun owners know it, or they would not be so pissed at the revelations.
    Also the great shining argument against a national gun registry is that it will lead to government confiscation. That is an argument being made directly to make ensure the population is well-armed and ready to stand-off the government.
    You can dress all of this up as “hunter’s rights” of “2nd amendment rights” and “personal safety” but all of those arguments are straw-men.
    What we are seeing is a slow-motion revolution going on. The paralysis of the Government by the republicans and the rush to buy ammo and guns, under the counter whenever possible, are clear symptoms of this. So are federal nullification laws being passes in the old confederacy and crazy AZ.
    Wayne LaPierre is not just a spittle-flecked conspiracy theorist. He is giving his audience exactly what they want to hear. It is wise to listen to him, however repugnant that may be. He is essentially on the forefront of the revolution. He has the power to kill legislation that 90% of the American people support. That is clout! I think Wayne is clearly the second most important man in government, after Grover Norquist.

  6. Pondering_It_All  May 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    The idea that you can’t use a database to keep track of gun ownership because it’s a big job, is exactly backwards: Is IS too big a job for every little police department or county sheriff’s office to handle, so that’s why we will NEVER have any sensible gun control until we do have a federal weapons and owners database.

    Every weapon in the US should be in there, and every owner as well as every person on the “no guns allowed” list. Each gun sale or transfer would generate a check of the new owner against the “no guns allowed list” and upon approval update the appropriate database records. Changes in health status, arrests, court orders, etc. that would affect gun ownership rights would also generate a check against weapons currently owned and update the ownership and no guns allowed list.

    And yes, that will certainly take some effort, especially in the owner status reporting. But this is the only practical way to implement universal background checks. As the database improves, background check quality will improve as well, and require near-zero human effort per check.

    And yes again, people will resist self-reporting their current ownership but making the penalty for being caught with unregistered weapons 20 years on the no guns allowed list, would get 99.9% compliance within a few weeks. We could also make purchase of ammo and reloading supplies dependent on registered ownership of a matching weapon.

    And finally yes, this would certainly make it easier for “the government to come and take your gun”. But that is exactly what we want the government to do when you get arrested for assault, go off the deep end and start threatening your neighbors, or lose your driver’s license because of emerging senility.

  7. Almandine  May 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Such a database provides nothing more than an address book as to where one could find the registered arms. To what end, if not to make them easier to seize?

    • Keith  May 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Easier to seize….by whom?

      Do you HONESTLY believe our gormless government bureaucrats (who, by the way couldn’t seem to locate and disarm a couple of nut cases with a pressure cooker) REALLY has both the intelligence (not to mention the firepower) to come after 35-50 Million Americans now armed to the teeth with all manner of automatic and semi-automatic weaponry?

      In that sense, clearly, the 2nd Amendment…which was designed primarily to keep the US Government honest as well as to avoid paying for a standing army, achieved the first objective LONG AGO.

      I’d be FAR more worried about the nut cases with pressure cookers….

    • Pondering_It_All  May 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      > To what end, if not to make them easier to seize?

      That is exactly my point: With the current sloppy non-system we have now, there is no way for the government to even know when they need to go impound the currently-owned weapons of somebody who has been changed to “no guns allowed” status.

      If we really want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally disturbed (as per a recent LaPierre public statement), then we need to know about guns already owned by a person who has just been added to that list. People are not born with a tattoo on their forehead that says: “criminal” or “crazy”. They get that way later in life. We do have some checks in place to deny weapons to people already on the list, but a process for impounding the guns of new list members is almost non-existent.

      • woody188  May 4, 2013 at 12:09 am

        Wouldn’t a search warrant accomplish this without some large expensive and useless database?

  8. woody188  May 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Comparing firearm rights to driving privileges is a non-argument. Driving does nothing to defend you from harm or to protect your freedom. The two are non-similar.

    How about making the argument that one would have to get a license or be registered

    Jon, firearm owners were rightfully angered because criminals used that data to target and surveil their homes and enter them when the firearm owners were not present, knowing they would find thousands of dollars worth of guns and be able to turn them on the black market for easy money. Talk about crafting a straw-man argument!

    Some would argue that firearms are for hunting and personal protection. While both are true, I’ve ALWAYS stated they are the final check on oppression and tyranny from ANY government, not just our own, and that is the reasoning behind their inclusion in our Bill of Rights.

    Our government is openly assassinating people and is engaged in full-spectrum superiority concerning their own citizens. How many Boston citizens need to be “liberated from their own homes” during the 24-hour man hunt where they were told to “shelter in place” (nice sounding Newspeak for martial law) when police came knocking on their doors without warrant or any hot pursuit. This was illegal search by every definition, and the people thanked them for their terrorism!

    The best part of the whole thing is, it took the lifting of their martial law to actually find the accused bomber, proving their tactics are unfruitful and naive, just like their terrorism prevention measures are a waste of time and resources.

    • woody188  May 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      I was trying to say:

      “How about making the argument that one would have to get a license or be registered to be a journalist or photographer?” (1st Amendment, freedom of press)

    • Jon  May 7, 2013 at 4:16 am

      Um, actually, it does:

      “Comparing firearm rights to driving privileges is a non-argument. Driving does nothing to defend you from harm or to protect your freedom. ”

      The freedom to just leave is an essential one, and given the abyssmal state of interstate bus transit, driving is the way to do so.

      J.

      • Jon  May 7, 2013 at 4:18 am

        PS – That was Joe, not Jon. J.

  9. Pondering_It_All  May 3, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Anybody that honestly believes their guns protect them from government tyranny, is probably delusional enough that they should be added to the “no guns allowed” list until they get some psychiatric intervention and find their way back to reality.

    If a government officer (EG. a policeman) orders you to do or refrain from doing something, and you “protect your rights” by raising a gun to him, YOU WILL BE DEAD almost instantly. And most of the people in your community will accept that as right and proper. If you “defend your home” from government officers using your gun, then YOU WILL BE DEAD soon and if your family is in there with you, then so will they.

    Revolting against the federal government was a big part of the reason the Second Amendment is in the Bill of Rights, but without the historical context many have a distorted view of its meaning: Read about Shays’ Rebellion, and you will get the whole picture. This was an armed uprising against the government in 1786. There was no standing army, so government had to call up armed militia members (“a well-regulated militia”) to put down the rebellion. The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights in 1789 so there would always be armed citizens the government could draft!

    The things that protect you from government tyranny are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, your right to due process, your right to vote, and your right to take the government to court. Your “right” to revolt against the government is a fantasy.

  10. woody188  May 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Funny, if the Nazi’s or the Stasi, or any other secret police thoughout time thought there might have been a chance they would be shot dead, do you think they would have been so quick to follow orders?

    Obviously small arms fire is fairly meaningless against tanks and bombs from planes, but that would be an extreme situation and mean a total break down of society on all levels. More often than not, those tactics are undesirable as it results in more turmoil than any ruling class can withstand. It’s far better for them to maintain a sense of normalcy and quietly silence the political dissidents, rig an election and keep the facade intact.

    Firearms do protect a populace from tyranny. One shouldn’t confuse this with individual safety. Individuals exercising their rights in the face of government death squad violence will die and will be vilified by the government, corporate media, and society.

    Obviously death and violence are the last things anyone would want. Wanting to keep one’s rights and be willing to defend them to the death does not make one delusional or crazy. I honor my forebears by maintaining the legacy of liberty and my natural rights that they fought and died for to pass on to me. I will do the same for my children.

    If one would rather follow orders and give up their rights as a way to survive that is their choice. Surely they must realize in doing so they have already lost everything that made them free. This is what separates the mice from the men, the Tories from the Whigs, the stooge from the patriot. It takes bravery to do what is right instead of what is easy.

    When you are partaking in a peaceful hunger strike from Guantanamo after being held there for nearly a decade, will you then wish maybe you had defended your rights?

    When your family is wiped out by a bomb from a drone that was meant to assassinate you, will you then defend your rights?

    Aren’t the above illegal actions by our government FAR WORSE than what anyone involved in Shay’s Rebellion could have imagined possible from a “representative” government?

    Heck, Shay’s Rebellion was about stopping debt collection and foreclosure during hard times. Sound familiar?

    Will you ever grow a spine, or are you destined to lick the boots that crush your throat and beg for more?

    Understand that violence will only play into their hands and bring a further tightening of the noose. But how much more are we willing to take until we are mad as hell and won’t take it anymore?

    If we all agree that wealthy and corporate interests control the government, an aristocracy and fascist bourgeoisie, isn’t violent rebellion the only option left to the proletariat?

    No government will ever say you have a “right to revolt.” Still, when a government steals your natural rights, isn’t it one’s responsibility to abolish it and defend your natural rights via the means available?

    One could try voting again. Which rich corporate controlled fascist do you prefer, the R or the D?

    The letter in front of their name is the only practical difference.

  11. pondering_it_all  May 4, 2013 at 6:53 am

    “the Nazi’s…”

    You lose. :)

    “And if we all agree that wealthy and corporate interests control the governent..”

    Obviously, we all don’t agree with that. They influence the government mightily, but so do plenty of other groups. For example, a large majority of the voters want effective gun control but the Senate can’t pass anything like that because of the influence exercised by the NRA. Or what about the people electing President Obama TWICE even though the wealthiest people and corporations supported his opponents?

    “isn’t it one’s responsibility to abolish it and defend your natural rights via the means available?”

    But violence or threats of violence against the government are not an effective means. They just get you discredited, arrested, and probably killed. Using your freedom of speech, right to sue the government, right to publish your greivances, right to vote, and right to organize and recruit others to vote along with you ARE effective.

    “The letter in front of their name is the only practical difference.”

    Yet another fantasy: A Supreme Court filled by a President Gore never would have passed Citizens United and declared that corporations have all the rights of citizens with none of the limits.

    • woody188  May 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Aren’t you one of the ones that says the gun manufacturers control the NRA?

      How can one claim Obama wasn’t supported by the wealthy and corporations with a campaign war chest totaling $314,929,950?

      We are in agreement that violence will only heighten the difficulty. I’m also making an assumption the other avenues of protest will also end up getting one incarcerated or killed at some point, making violence the only option.

      A President Gore would have forced the carbon trading scam on our nation traded through the CCX he helped found making him one of the first trillionaires and destroying what’s left of manufacturing in the USA.

      I’m unsure where the idea that Democrats aren’t for corporations comes from, but they ended that practice with the demise of unions.

  12. Keith  May 4, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Just like building more walls to keep the hordes of people who want to emigrate to the USA “illegally” via our southern border out, putting people who own firearms on yet ANOTHER stupid list isn’t going to stop nut-cases from using them to kill.

    Both approaches are fools errands because neither approach address the root cause of the problem.

    For example, we don’t have walls and miles of concertina wire erected along our northern border (with Canada) for the very simple reason that the vast majority of Canadians who enter the United States HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE TO STAY HERE!

    That’s because, absent along our norther border is the glaring economic disparity between the largely corrupt and despotic economy of Mexico and that of the infinitely more progressive and opportunistic USA. By contrast, the economies of Canada and the USA are vastly similar, to the point that they are each other’s largest economic trading partners.

    Likewise, no matter how many lists and “background checks” one creates to track gun owners, the simple fact that there are some 50 Million or so of them in the USA also means that there is no way in God’s green Earth that EVERY nut-case can (or will) be absolutely prevented from getting their hands on one.

    And, as we’ve seen, all it takes is one nut case with a gun to wreak havoc on otherwise law-abiding citizens who have little or no connection with their mental demons.

    Indeed, in such discussions, it’s important to remember that “quantity” takes on a “quality” all its own.

  13. Jon  May 4, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    On driver’s licenses vs. gun licenses:

    U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1

    “As far back as the circuit court ruling in Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Fed. Cas. 546 (1823), the Supreme Court recognized freedom of movement as a fundamental Constitutional right.”

    It’s not even an amendment. It’s there in the original document.

    J.

    • woody188  May 5, 2013 at 10:46 am

      There are a lot of people who have forfeited their license for driving while intoxicated that would instruct you otherwise. One may still take a plane, bus, train, or have another individual drive them.

      Freedom of movement means not having random checkpoints, aka the TSA VIPR program!

      • Jon  May 5, 2013 at 10:05 pm

        Or DUI checkpoints, where you must prove your innocence before being allowed to proceed?

        J.

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