A key gun control proposal President Joe Biden campaigned on will not be enforceable without the enactment of a national database, according to Breitbart News’ firearms correspondent Awr Hawkins.
In a column published Sunday, Hawkins noted that Biden supported universal background checks for all firearms purchases which would include exchanges between individuals. At present, only customers who buy guns from established firearms dealers are subject to FBI background checks.
But a universal system isn’t possible unless there is a national firearms registry, which gun owners and Second Amendment advocates have long said would make it easier for the federal government to confiscate them at a future date. Critics have also questioned the constitutionality of a registry.
Hawkins cited Biden’s campaign website to make his point, noting that under the heading of “Gun Safety” it states clearly, “Biden will enact universal background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members.”
The site also acknowledged that the vast majority of guns — roughly 80 percent — are purchased through a dealer and therefore already subjected to FBI checks.
“Background checks for retail gun sales have been in place in the United States since 1993. When Biden talks about universal checks he is intimating an expansion of those checks, so as to cover private gun sales well,” Hawkins wrote.
“In other words, every gun sale, even between lifelong neighbors or decades old co-workers, will require a background check,” he continued, adding: “The only way to know is to put a registration process in place whereby the government keeps a record of the serial number of every gun Americans currently possess, as well as the name and address of the citizen who possesses it.”
Simply put, the federal government would have to know where all firearms are located at all times to make sure that exchanges are not made without a background check.
Hawkins said that following the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Obama administration “admitted the necessity of a gun registry” when pushing for a universal background check law in December 2012.
He added that National Institute of Justice Deputy Director Greg Ridgeway noted in a January 2013 document, “Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies,” that universal checks would need to be linked to a national firearms registry in order to be effective. In a summary, Ridgeway wrote that “requiring gun registration” is a primary element to making universal background checks functional and effective.
“Most states do not have a registry of firearm ownership,” Ridgeway noted. “Currently NICS background checks are destroyed within 24 hours. Some states maintain registration of all firearms. Gun registration aims to 1) increase owner responsibility by directly connecting an owner with a gun, 2) improve law enforcement’s ability to retrieve guns from owners prohibited from possessing firearms.
“Gun registration also allows for the monitoring of multiple gun purchases in a short period of time,” he wrote.
Scholars and experts disagree on the constitutionality of requiring firearms registration.
“Registration is probably not unconstitutional,” Don Kilmer, a San Jose, Calif.-based attorney who has sued counties in the state for denying otherwise law-abiding citizens permits to carry concealed firearms, said back in 2009. “There’s a difference between registration as a permissible regulation and registration as good policy.”
That said, in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Second Amendment case D.C. v. Heller, the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion that registration may be constitutional.
“Reasonable restrictions also might be thought consistent with a ‘well regulated militia.’ The registration of firearms gives the government information as to how many people would be armed for militia service if called up,” he said.
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