By Nancy Smith
The cockamamie suggestion of an assault weapons registry is back in the public conversation. That’s a good thing. Thank you, state economists — you’ve given me a chance to beat my drum for the Second Amendment.
Meeting Tuesday in Tallahassee, a panel of Florida economists weighed the burden of a proposed constitutional amendment that aims to ban assault weapons — but grandfather in the guns already circulating, as long as their owners register them with the state.
I’m talking about a gun registry.
The unsavory practice of the government taking names and compiling lists.
Lists of whom? Lists of law-abiding citizens. We know from other states and nations that tried this, criminals don’t register their firearms. Only the grudging good guys do.
Unsurprisingly, the panel meeting Tuesday hardly sounded as if it were clearing the proposed amendment for takeoff:
- Members estimated the cost of building a Florida assault weapons registry at about $4 million;
- Add to that $3 million ANNUALLY to maintain it;
- It would take a year and a half, not 30 days as required, to get the registry up and running (“When you are talking about a gun registry, you are talking about potentially millions of guns,” said Ron Draa, Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s director of external affairs.);
- Draa told the panel to add in the cost of background checks; and
- There’s also a skewing factor — the number of out-of-state people who would move to Florida and register guns.
Those are administrative details. But there are philosophical problems that make this constitutional amendment particularly offensive to me.
My husband and I never owned a gun and neither did any of our kids. But we always understood why our Founding Fathers put the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and it wasn’t so we could hunt ducks and shoot clay targets.
If Ban Assault Weapons NOW (BAWN), the political committee behind this hugely offensive ballot proposal, want to believe “well-regulated militia” means the National Guard — as the gun control crowd insists we interpret the Second Amendment — if they want to believe it’s perfectly OK to ban the guns they don’t like and leave us with the ones that meet with their approval, who’s going to look it up and prove us wrong?
By all accounts, of all the powerful memories and emotions the Founding Fathers brought to the constitutional debates, none was stronger than their fear of standing armies. As David Young, author of “The Origin of the Second Amendment” observed: “The necessity of an armed populace, protection against disarming of the citizenry, and the need to guard against a select militia and assure a real militia which could defend liberty against any standing forces the government might raise were topics interspersed throughout the ratification period.”
In other words, the Founding Fathers didn’t want Americans powerless against their own government.
As for a gun registry, we only have to look North to Canada to see it won’t work.
Canada attempted a “long gun registry” — a registry of all rifles and shotguns in the country. (They already had a handgun registry.) They estimated there were about 8 million long guns in private hands. Legislators were told that the registry would cost in the neighborhood of $119 million to implement, with $117 million of the cost covered by registration fees — so for $2 million, they’d be able to register all 8 million guns, and “it would go quickly.”
The law passed in 1995, with licensing starting in 1998 and all long guns were to be registered by Jan. 1, 2003. By 2000, it was obviously not going according to theory. Registrations were backlogged and riddled with errors, and costs were way over estimates. An audit in December 2002 showed that costs were going to exceed $1 billion by 2005, with an income from registration fees of only $145 million.
Gun registries are sinister. They are about a loss of privacy, about a fear of freedom, but most of all, they are about confiscation. If registries have prevented a single homicide, let alone a mass murder, somebody will have to show me.
One last point: There is no such thing as cyber security. Consider that even the NSA has been hacked. So imagine for a minute all gun owners registering every weapon they own to their name and address. Now imagine some criminal hacking that registry and building an Uber-style app showing where each gun is located, what kind it is, and who lives in the house.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but in this day and age, it’s a hacker’s world out there. Create a gun registry of any type and risk creating a cottage industry for felons to raid.
The News Service of Florida has reported that Ban Assault Weapons NOW still is waiting for 1) the Florida Supreme Court to sign off on the ballot wording and 2) the Division of Elections to receive 766,200 valid petition signatures. Two days ago BAWN had turned in a total of 105,062 valid signatures.
Economists are set to meet again today on the proposed amendment’s financial impact.
Nancy Smith is the editor of Sunshine State News. She started her career at the Daily Mirror and The Observer in London before spending 28 years at The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News as managing editor and associate editor. She was president of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in the mid-1990s. Reach her by email here, or follow her on twitter at @NancyLBSmith.
Eric Routledge says
At last, someone who makes sense without a political agenda!
Marvin Clegg says
Happy to see FlaglerLive publishing this view, in light of recent local and national articles and commentaries, mostly well-meaning but missing the point. Ms. Smith hits the nail on the head. Setting aside the cost factor, these gun-registration or seizure efforts just don’t do the trick when they mostly impact law-abiding citizens. It’s a simplistic approach to a complicated issue. More attention needs to be focused on our mental health issues, a breakdown of family oversight and responsibilities, a nation and media infatuated with each new atrocity, and the impact on broken people of having their 15 days of fame guaranteed if they just copy the last evil or sick murderer.
One angry woman says
As it stands right now I can own any number of guns, 1, 10, 100 and have them in my home without registering them. It doesn’t matter what my mental status may be, where I got the guns, where they came from or wether I have any idea about how to use them or store them safely. I can buy a gun on Craig’s list, from someone on the Internet, from someone on the street, at a gun show…I can buy an AR-15, an AK-47…if that doesn’t scare you, it should.
I don’t think this is what the founding fathers had in mind.
Bill jones says
This is exactly what the founding fathers had in mind.
The founding fathers had muskets. Not automatic assault rifles. Any statement that cites “our founding fathers…” is a cop out when it pertains to guns.
The archaic laws need to be adjusted to today’s society and what’s going on in our nation and it’s many problems.
Pitching Wedge says
Micky…..The military back then had muskets as well. In kind, the military today has fully automatic weapons.
“The Origin of the Second Amendment” observed: “The necessity of an armed populace, protection against disarming of the citizenry, and the need to guard against a select militia and assure a real militia which could defend liberty against any standing forces the government might raise were topics interspersed throughout the ratification period.”
Do you propose that muskets will serve the purpose??
Get Real says
The Founding Fathers has a quill and parchment. Any argument restricting modern firearms must be made without modern technology.
Should I expect to receive your by horseback?
Capt T.S. says
Actually civilians had firearms superior to the British army, they had rifles in many cases while the British had smooth bore muskets, the colonists also had cannons and privately owned warships.
Actually, it is.
Lorianne Lucienne says
The founding fathers also violently enforced the status quo of slavery. Were slaves armed, such a tyranny could have never happened. Instead of allowing room for tyranny to grow again, perhaps we should take into account the founding father’s greatest mistake and greatest tyranny and note that it was only stopped with guns in the end anyway.
Let’s not allow more tyrannies to grow.
Capt. T. S. says
And having them registered in your name would just let the authorities know where to find your last known address after you committed a mass murder with them. It wouldn’t prevent you from going crazy and doing it.
Cynthia Barrett says
We register our vehicles and are required to insure them also. I see no hardship in registering any weapon of death and maybe we should also be required to carry insurance on each weapon.
Steve Robinson says
Let me see if I understand this argument: The government knows how much money you make, how many children you have, what kind of car you own, how much real property you own and what it is worth, what political party you are or are not affiliated with, whether or not you are legally married, and whether you are old enough to take advantage of Medicare and Social Security, but whether or not you own an arsenal of weapons that can kill scores of people in a matter of seconds–that has to stay secret!
You are so right Steve. When you buy a gun from a gun store, they have to report the purchase to the state. The problem is when you as an individual sells said gun to someone in Fl. The second sale is not required to go through the regular channels of purchase. And I still cannot gripe the idea that a person with an AK is going to try to take on the US Military. Very hard of visualize that happening.
Michael Wray says
If I understand Nancy Smiths last point, if a hacker gets into the database and sees who has a gun, or multiple guns, and what types, that’s a bad thing? I would think that gun owners would want that. It would be like having a sign on your door that says “this homeowner has multiple firearms and is prepared to use them. Try the guy next door.”
Seems to me that this hacker would get into the system to find the people who don’t have a firearm.
One more thing – she said that the main reason for registration is for confiscation. I’ve registered every automobile I ever owned, and the government has never tried to confiscate them.
First time I’ve agreed with Nancy Smith!
Cold Dead Hands says
Article is 100% correct. And besides the cost, there’s that one other task that will NEVER happen. No true American Patriot will register their weapons. Most will sacrifice one piece of junk firearm to amuse the government and the other 99 will be hidden away from the reaches of LEO and FBI . Its actually already started . I like 30,000,000 other LEGAL AMERICANS WILL NEVER GIVE UP OUR ARMS !!!!!!
Steve NONE of those other things are SPECIFICALLY identified on the BILL OF RIGHTS.
You can’t get any more stupid than this. Its like asking, ALL people that intend to do harm to someone else to please turn yourself in. Who really dreams this stuff up Like the article noted “” criminals don’t register their firearms” Also criminals don’t care, Criminals don’t follow anyone’s rules. Hell we can’t even get people to STOP texting while driving. What a joke.
So the Second Amendment does NOT apply to military weapons. Well let’s see, I have a Remington Model 700 bolt action is .308 Winchester for deer hunting, that SAME rifle is used by the MILITARY as a sniper rifle. I have a shotgun, pump action, that is the EXACT model used in the Viet Nam Conflict by MANY US soldiers, I have a 1911 handgun, that was designed in 1911, hence the name, and they were designed for the US MILITARY. I have a S&W Revolver, that is from WWI, MADE FOR THE MILITARY. I also have a Civil War era Musket, MADE for the MILITARY. You see the simple fact is ALL firearms were once MILITARY weapons, and the authors of the US Constitution knew this, they knew technology would advance, NOT like they lived in a never changing world. They were pretty forward thinking. And if they did OT want to include ALL firearms, they would have said so.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)
Worse still – peddling evil nonsense in common service to the political success of racists, fascists, polluters, and soulless monopolists. And getting paid to do it.
How do we register the bad guys guns?
Trailer Bob says
So let me get thibs straight…if messed up people are taking drugs (prescription ones) and dying or doing harm to others, that means I should not be able to have access to them for real pain because of what the “criminals” are doing? Many, many more people are dying from legal medications than guns. The ugly truth that liberals cannot seem to get is this…bad, or sick, or criminal people will not abide by the laws…period. And if you cannot get your brain around this logic…try looking at how many people die from cars (yes, let’s blame the cars). If the data on each and every death involving a car was published daily, what would you consider sensible action to stop it? get rid of all the cars? YOu cannot brush this comparison off unless you are simple anti-gun all the way.
Pierre Tristam says
Trailer Bob, the car analogy is often used because it has that superficial appeal, but it’s as false as it gets. Aside from the occasional fanatic who plows into a crowd (as in Charlottesville) with intent to kill, you can’t point to any of those 33,000-odd fatal car crashes and show even once that the crash was intentional. Mistakes, inattention, bad weather, sure. But no driver ever goes off a driveway thinking: this is a good day to die. Your analogy is the more absurd because it makes most of those drivers in wrecks to be suicidal, if they’re the cause of the wreck. Also false. Now, when a person uses a gun, which has one purpose and one purpose only, there’s no question what the intention is. Pulling the trigger by accident is the exception. Not so the intention.
Law Abiding Citizen says
Pierre, “aside from the occasional fanatic” just proves the other point. You cannot look at the 1 million gun owners in this country and show that they intend to kill people. Using a gun is different from owning a gun. No law abiding citizen buys a gun and says “I can’t wait to kill someone with this!” Driving a car is a privilege, bearing arms is a right.
If the corrupt and abusive police department have AR 15s, so should citizens.
Law Abiding Citizen says
Pierre: I think you should go ask a parent the following: “How would you like your child to die: in a car accident or a mass shooting?” Dead is dead.
Pierre Tristam says
The question was asked and answered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who revolutionized drunk driving laws and regulations. It worked. Now dead is not dead so much as fewer dead, at least by drunk drivers.
Now I will not register my car , because it also is a lethal weapon .
I am sure glad we made drugs illegal. Just think of all the people who would be dying from overdoes or having their lives and lives of those around them ruined. Oh wait…. that didn’t work? You mean to tell me there are people out there who did not turn in their illegal drugs and are dying everyday?? That can’t be possible, because everyone obeys the law right??
American Citizen says
The truth is, the politicians don’t care about guns, they don’t care about the mass killings, and they don’t care about the American citizen. They need the debate to continue just like what is on this website. They need an issue, any issue, to keep we the people divided and to keep them in power because they have all the solutions. Just look at immigration, neither side (left or right) does anything about it when they hold all three branches of government. Everyone, both Democrat and Republican citizens need to wise up and see these charlatans for what they are; greedy. Registering guns, taking away guns, buying back guns with my tax money will do absolutely nothing except keep the masses stirred up and the same people in power.
Concerned Citizen says
Speaking as a veteran who has seen combat and also as a former LEO.
Why does the average person need an “assault style” weapon? Just because you can get it doesn’t mean you should have one. There is nothing more scarier than a civilian who runs to the gun store and buys an AR then sticks it in the closet and never trains with it. Do you honestly think you are going to rush out and quell an invasion? Are you really going to take on an opposing military? Chances are it will end up getting stolen and then used in a crime.
I own two weapons. I have a Glock 19 and a Mossberg 500 12 guage. Both are secured in a gun safe. I feel more than protected and have both because I live in a rural setting. I honestly hope that neither have to be used to take a human life. It’s something that will change you forever.
The Second Amendment has become a political cop out. It was written by our founding fathers who mostly owned a powder and ball weapon capable of one round at a time. A trained soldier could fire 3 rounds a minut at best. It was a requirement for most males to own a weapon because service in the local militia was mandatory. As a matter of fact if you read into the 2nd Amendment it states ” For the purpose of forming a well regulated and trained militia” or words to that effect.
Nope I’ll say it again. Gun laws aren’t scary. What’s scary are the folks out there with weapons they have no busniess handling.
But then again this is my opinion and not yours. Which I’m sure will vary very heatedly.
It’s is called THREE Gun Competition. And one of the Weapons utilized in the AR platform, is that “good” enough for YOU. And that is coming from someone who did something very similar to you for a living……..
I am a firm believer in the second amendment, and believe law abiding citizens should own any firearm that is legal to own where they live,that being said there is one problem that I have with the way we do things ; some gangbanger , hoodrat ,felon can come here from detroit, chicago ,washington DC,NY ,etc ,get a news paper or go online, find guns for sale that they cant legally own and buy them with no paper trail leading to them. Now we have some criminal in possession of firearms that they shouldnt have and this is where the problem lies. I am thinking that all private sales should have to go through the sheriffs department so we can eliminate guns getting in the hands of criminals.I have argued this with some of my pro-gun friends who think I’m nuts for thinking like this ,however ,I think it is a small inconvenience to keep guns away from criminals.
Capt. T.S. says
Except criminals won’t play by your rules, no matter what you make them. They get most of their gun now through straw purchase where a girlfriend or gang member who can pass a background check buys it for them in a gun shop. It’s not legal, they don’t care. Or they steal them, also illegal. The rules won’t effect them.
One angry woman says
No, my having an unlimited number of unregistered weapons without training is not what the founding fathers had in mind. I am not part of ” A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” by any stretch of the imagination, nor are those macho bullies who showed up at Walmart with their weapons part of a a militia, well regulated or not.
Incredible how so many people think that their access to weapons is more important than the lives of innocent Americans.
Rsndy Jones says
The government knows the identity of every lawful opioid producer, distributor, dispenser and consumer (a “registry” if you will). That’s why we DON’T have in excess of 60,000 people dying from opioid overdoses in America every year.