Monday, January 24, 2005

On Being a Gun Nut (Part VI)

The Threat of Gun Registration
Here at the Ten Ring, we have spent some time talking about Massachusetts’ licensing scheme. You might be tired of seeing the state's name, and we are tired of even thinking about Massachusetts. Yet on the other hand, the Commonwealth is a good object lesson for gun owners: Don't let this happen to you!

We gun owners today must fight gun registration schemes. Many countries, including Canada, have registration in place. Some states and cities in America also have registration. It is a "holy grail" that most gun banning groups want to bring to your state.

Many gun banners tell us that licensing and registration is only "common sense." They point out that cars are registered and their driver's are licensed after proving their ability to drive their car. There is a superficial appeal to their argument. Licensing could mean that people who have never learned how to shoot would take classes maybe learning to clear a semi-automatic properly; remove the magazine before you eject the cartridge from the chamber.

Registration has that superficial rationality about it too. We will know how many guns are in the country, how many licensed shooters there really are, and how many guns per person are owned. We believe there are many more gun owners and guns in the country than most people estimate.

The biggest problem with both registration and licensing is simple; there are people who want to confiscate firearms. The only way to confiscate anything is to know where it is. Only licensing and registration in tandem can provide this information. There is also the fact, that the government should not be collecting this data in the first place.

Licensing, as we see it, is a way to reserve gun rights to the elite. As dangerous as licensing is, registration is worse. If gun confiscators ever have their day they will go first to licensees (and this includes those with concealed carry permits no matter which state you are in) and do their dirty work. But, they will never know if they got all the licensees' guns. Registration solves this problem. Of course, you might argue, that no one would register all of his or hers guns. Let's look at Massachusetts' registration scheme.

In Massachusetts when you buy a gun legally (and we always keep it legal here at The Ten Ring), the gun dealer will fill out a form, the FA-10. This is in addition to the Federal form 4473 (the yellow one we all fill out here in America). The state is currently implementing a digital version of the form, which is completed electronically at the time of sale in a gun store.

If you buy a gun at a licensed dealer, the store will complete and submit the form. If you sell a gun to a friend, you have seven days to complete the form. You also can use it to report loss or theft. If you move into the state, you must complete and FA-10 for each gun you own after you get your gun license. The forms are available at your local police station. We have not been able to find an online version. If they ever get rid of the paper version, it could mean you would have to go through a gun dealer for all personal transfers.

The FA-10 asks for all sort of rights infringing information. The seller lists the name of the store or himself if a private sale. The seller includes federal and state firearm licenses if a dealer or the gun license number in the case of a personal sale.

The form includes information on the gun: make, model, type (handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun [yes the form includes the latter]), serial number, caliber or gauge, date of sale, surface finish, a check box if large capacity (a semi-auto that holds more than ten rounds), and finally barrel length.

You then enter the purchaser's information: the gun license number, Social Security number (optional), name, place of birth, race, sex, height, weight, eye color, hair color (there are special codes you must use for race and hair/eye color), address with zip code, occupation, and employer name. The buyer's and seller's signatures complete the form.

The information on the gun is troubling. Why does the state need to know the barrel length? Could this be a way to easily confiscate concealable weapons if the state ever outlawed handguns with barrels less than say four inches. It begs the question, if you get a barrel shortened for a legitimate reason, must that be reported? Does that change the nature of the gun's record to the point you are in violation of having an inaccurately registered gun?

This form captures a lot of information about the gun buyer. Coupled with licensing information, the state knows even more about you.

Some leftists in Massachusetts want gun records to be completely open even though many support privacy rights for criminals, child molesters, voters, Internet users, and just about everyone else except gun owners.

After all, it is for the children. Mothers can know if a child will be playing in a house with a (gasp) gun, neighbors will know whom they should fear, and people will know whom to ostracize. The fact that burglars will have a shopping list never enters into their minds--or does it. [Paranoia mode on] Perhaps some gun banners want to see gun owners burgled since the gun owners might give up their guns as being too much trouble [/paranoia mode off].

Denise chose to register those guns she wanted to have in Massachusetts. We left certain ones in New Hampshire or with her parents--no registration for some of them. Still, she wanted to be able to shoot certain guns and to hunt with others. We bought a number of firearms in Massachusetts and the dealers in every case completed the form and duly sent them in.

Some gun rights advocates might criticize us and dealers for following such blatantly un-Constitutional laws. Fine, you are right on a moral level. But, try following your course on a practical level. If you go to a range a cop can ask for a license and can check registration (this never happened to us, but in theory it is possible). If you are pulled over and a cop finds you have guns, they will check licensing and registration. If you are hunting, game wardens can and will check gun registration and licensing.

A gun dealer will not risk his license and possibly jail time. We did not risk jail and a lifetime ban on gun ownership. We cannot practice and advocate gun ownership if we are considered criminals. We fled to New Hampshire and are fighting for gun rights here. In some ways, and we hate to say this, Massachusetts is a lost cause, but we admire those who are fighting the good fight there.

Fight this in your state. Never let "common sense" gun licensing and gun registration get their snouts in the door.

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