Friday, February 21, 2014

'Assault weapons,' registration, and the lessons of Connecticut

But unlike the Spartans, we can fight from the superior side of the numbers
[This issue has the potential to be the flash point for the 2nd Revolution if the Government continues to abuse the Constitution and Bill of Rights!]

by: Kurt Hofmann
Much has been written of late about what appears to be massive non-compliance with Connecticut's "assault weapon" registration requirement (the guns are banned, but "grandfathered," if the owner registers them). Well, much has been written, that is, in gun rights advocacy circles--the mass media would apparently have us believe that it's not worth covering the fact that scores of thousands--maybe hundreds of thousands--of people are committing a felony "crime" punishable by five years in prison.
That was interesting enough before the Hartford Courant editorial board decided to enter the fray, urging the state to use background check data to identify likely "assault weapon" owners, compare that list to the list of "assault weapon" registrants, and investigate the people on the first list, but not the second, in order to enforce the law:

Authorities should use the background check database as a way to find assault weapon purchasers who might not have registered those guns in compliance with the new law.
A Class D felony calls for a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Even much lesser penalties or probation would mar a heretofore clean record and could adversely affect, say, the ability to have a pistol permit.
If you want to disobey the law, you should be prepared to face the consequences.
As National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea notes, this puts the state in a very unenviable position. They could acquiesce to the Courant's demands, and take on the utterly impossible--not to mention lethally dangerous, both to private citizens and Connecticut law enforcement--task of confiscating the now "illegal" guns, and arresting and imprisoning the scores of thousands of newly-minted felons. Mr. Codrea points out a few of the reasons this is impossible:

Simply as a matter of resources and logistics, the state will be hard-pressed to allocate the manpower, budget, jail facilities and court case load capabilities to do more than scratch the surface to try to frighten everyone by making examples of a few. If The Courant is going to demand they apply those resources to all, perhaps the editors would flesh out what compliance with their call to action consists of, starting with realistic costs to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate every noncompliant gun owner, the number of total hours and dedicated personnel needed to execute that plan, how many decades it will take to accomplish, how many businesses will be disrupted by losing valuable employees, how much tax revenue the state will lose by taking productive taxpayers out of circulation and turning them into dependents . . . .
Codrea notes also that the Courant has also done gun owners the favor of confirming all gun owners' concerns that background checks are backdoor registration, and registration is tantamount to confiscation--concerns contemptuously dismissed as "paranoid" by the forcible citizen disarmament zealots. That, indeed, is the first lesson: background check data can be used as a de facto registry, and the registry can serve to find guns and owners. It's a lesson that should have been learned long ago, but better late than never.
The state's other option is to not attempt this bordering-on-apocalyptic task--which the state's top "justice" system official, Mike Lawlor, has already indicated is the plan, according to another Courant article:

"A lot of it is just a question to ask, and I think the firearms unit would be looking at it," said Mike Lawlor, the state's top official in criminal justice. "They could send them a letter."
An aggressive hunt isn't going to happen, Lawlor said, but even the idea of letters is a scary thought considering thousands of people are now in an uncomfortable position."
The Courant might be grossly overestimating just how "scary" these letters would be, especially given the fact that it's already clear that any kind of investigation and roundup is not in the cards. And that is the other, and most important, lesson. Scores of thousands of "assault weapon"-owning Connecticut residents have called the government's bluff. Now, what is the state going to do about it? What can it do?
In fact, as J.D. Tuccile points out in Reason, the only people likely to be forced to surrender their "assault weapons" are the ones who did try to register, but were too late:
"Some people actually tried to comply with the registration law, but missed the deadline. The state's official position is that it will accept applications notarized on or before January 1, 2014 and postmarked by January 4. But, says Dora Schriro, Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, in a letter to lawmakers, anybody sufficiently law-abiding but foolish enough to miss that slightly extended grace period will have to surrender or otherwise get rid of their guns." 

It is only through defiance of evil, unjust, illegitimate laws that one can avoid becoming a victim of them. This is a lesson for the entire country. If tens of thousands of citizens of one state can face the government down over a state gun ban and registration scheme, tens of millions of Americans can do the same in a face-off with the federal government, over an analogous law at that level. It is we the people who hold the only legitimate power in this country, and if enough of us stand together to exercise it, we can do so without firing a shot.
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