Recently, a federal judge upheld a law in Washington, D.C. requiring guns be registered every three years (among other things). Taken in conjunction with Connecticut’s “assault weapons” registration law which just went into effect January 1st, they portend ill-tidings for both the Second Amendment and our country itself.
Still, you might ask: “What IS the problem with registration”? And if you did, I’d answer, “How much do you know about the Supreme Court decision entitled U.S. v. Haynes – 1968“?
Clayton Cramer wrote a fascinating article on the subject that I read at Firearms and Liberty. His summary of the case is as follows:
“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.”
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 citizens, …CAN and WILL be.
So, would someone, …anyone, …kindly explain to me: what, exactly, is to be gained by requiring our firearms to be registered?
There’s no need to answer, of course: we already know.