It’s practically a Pavlovian response at this point: every time an incident involving gun violence occurs, the resultant freak-out from the gun control advocates is always: “Somebody needs to do SOMETHING!!”
Inevitably, the discussion leads to background checks and mandatory registration. Since this blog already dissected the risible “90%” claim spouted by President Obama regarding background checks, let’s take a peek at mandatory registration, shall we?
We had this recent comment from VP Joe “Soo-per Jean-yus” Biden:
“When you go to registration, it raises all the black-helicopter-crowd notion that what this is all about is identifying who has a gun so that one day the government can get up and go to the house and arrest everyone who has a gun, and they’ll cite Nazi Germany and all that…”
Of course, we’re well aware of Joe’s idiotic prescription for home-defense…., so please consider the source.
Still, you might ask: “What IS the problem with mandating gun registration?” Well, leaving behind the black-helicopter-crowd notion, there’s another reason I’d beseech you to consider…
Have you ever heard of the Supreme Court decision: U.S. v. Haynes (1968)?
Clayton Cramer wrote an article on the subject that I read at Firearms and Liberty. He summarizes the case:
“In Haynes v. U.S. (1968), a Miles Edward Haynes appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of an unregistered short-barreled shotgun.
His argument was ingenious: since he was a convicted felon at the time he was arrested on the shotgun charge, he could not legally possess a firearm. Haynes further argued that for a convicted felon to register a gun, especially a short-barreled shotgun, was effectively an announcement to the government that he was breaking the law. If he did register it, as 26 U.S.C. sec.5841 required, he was incriminating himself; but if he did not register it, the government would punish him for possessing an unregistered firearm — a violation of 26 U.S.C. sec.5851.
Consequently, his Fifth Amendment protection against self- incrimination (“No person… shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”) was being violated — he would be punished if he registered it, and punished if he did not register it.“
It was a 7-1 decision, with Justice Thurgood Marshall not involved in the ruling and only Chief Justice Warren having dissented. Justice Harlan delivered the Majority Opinion, concluding his writing with:
“We hold that a proper claim of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination provides a full defense to prosecutions either for failure to register a firearm under 5841 or for possession of an unregistered firearm under 5851.”
May I summarize the decision in terms that I understand? Thank you, I think I will.
In other words, a convicted felon can NOT be convicted for failing to register a gun. See…. if he were to attempt to register it, it would be revealed that he was a convicted felon who was attempting to purchase/register the weapon, and would be incriminating himself…..which violates his Fifth Amendment Rights.
However, a citizen who IS legally “allowed” to own a firearm, but fails to register it according to any law that would require such, can (and almost certainly, WILL) be punished.
And there you have it: the criminal, towards whom registration laws would presumably be aimed, cannot be punished for failing to register the weapon. BUT: you, me, and all other law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, …CAN be.
So, would someone, …anyone, …kindly explain to me: WHAT is gained by requiring our firearms to be registered? There’s no need to answer, of course…
We already know: