Background Checks Open Door to National Gun Registry

By:  Brian Koenig
Background Checks Open Door to National Gun Registry

As the gun control debate surges forward, critics are posing concerns about new legislation that could establish a “gun registry.” 

As the contentious debate over new gun-control regulations surges forward, conservatives and liberty-minded critics are now posing concerns about new legislation that could establish a “gun registry.” Widespread fears of a national firearm registry persist even after many in Congress pledged to bar such a system from becoming active.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who drafted a background check provision as an amendment to sweeping new firearms legislation, contend that a registry is explicitly forbidden in their proposal. The provision says plainly that the Justice Department “may not consolidate or centralize the records” on firearms sales or possession, and that nothing in the amendment would open the door to a “federal firearms registry.”

Still, gun rights advocates worry that the provision paves the way for a slippery-slope scenario, where an expansion in background checks and regulations becomes a precursor to a national registry, which could then be abused to confiscate weapons from law-abiding Americans. "Once you get these lists out there, once you have a gun dealer keeping lists for lots of other people, the only way that works, frankly I think, is if you keep the paper," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Monday in an interview with Fox News. "And if you keep the paper, eventually, somebody's going to ask for it." 

Indeed, despite lawmakers’ assurances, skepticism over new gun regulations lingers on, as critics say the language in the proposal could very easily be altered. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) noted last week in a prepared statement that “current federal law can be changed,” and record keeping is one step closer toward registration. Grassley adds that testimony in the Judiciary Committee, and according to language provided by the deputy director of the National Institute of Justice, indicates that universal background checks can be instituted only if gun registration is mandated.

Writing for the Heritage Foundation’s blog, David S. Addington explains how various details in the bill “fuzz up the law” barring a national gun registry:

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