Gun Registration and Licensing

Gun Registration and Licensing
by Jeremy D. Blanks, Ph.D.
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Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Current Proposals by Gun Control Supporters
and Politicians
• Develop universal registration and licensing
schemes for all law-abiding citizens
• Establish government agencies responsible for
• Move toward a long term position of a “needs
based” licensing system
• Ban various classes of firearms through
• And the so called “treat guns like cars” approach
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Effects of Registration and
Licensing Schemes
• Implementation of various taxes and fees upon law-abiding
citizens that wish to own a firearm for self-defense and/or
sporting purposes
• Estimated initial costs of over 10 billion taxpayer dollars to
establish and support government agencies undertaking gun
• Loss of individual rights to own a firearm under the “needs
based” system
• Confiscation of various classes of firearms after registration
• Deter law-abiding citizens from owning firearms via taxes,
harassment, and bureaucracy
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Effects of Registration and
Licensing Schemes Continued
• Discourage law-abiding citizens from being
responsible for their own self-defense and that of
their families against violent murderers and rapists
• No tangible anti-crime benefit
• Increase in crimes such as home invasion, rape,
assault, murder, and other violent crime frequently
prevented today by law abiding citizens with a gun
(over 2 million such crimes every year)
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
The New York Example
• In 1967, New York City passed an ordinance requiring a
permit to own a rifle or shotgun - each to be registered
• Concerns over future use of such registration lists to
confiscate firearms dismissed as paranoia
• In 1991, New York City passed a ban on the private
possession of various semi-automatic rifles and shotguns
• New York’s honest citizens, who had been licensed, were told
that any licensed firearms that were covered under the ban
had to be surrendered, rendered inoperable, or taken out of
the city
• People with licenses were threatened with “spot checks”
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Countries Which Have Employed Gun
Registration Schemes and the Results
• Great Britain - Registrations led to bans and
• Australia - Registrations led to bans and
• Canada - Registrations led to selective bans and
• Other countries that have implemented registration
schemes that resulted in confiscation include
Ireland, Greece, Jamaica, Russia, Cuba, Bermuda,
China, and Germany
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Specifics on Registration and
Licensing in Great Britain
• The British Firearms Act of 1920 required citizens to provide a “good
reason” for receiving a firearm permit
• In 1936, a secure storage requirement was added to the permit process
• These laws were initially enforced moderately
• Over time, such laws were applied with greater severity to remove
essentially all firearm ownership rights
• Currently, all handguns, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, and
pump-action shotguns are banned
• The crime levels in Great Britain now exceed that of the U.S. and have
been going up consistently since their gun bans of the early 1990s
• Self-defense against a violent criminal is now viewed as a high crime
in England
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Will Criminals Register their
Guns or Obtain a License?
• The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that
criminals are not required to register their illegal
firearm in Haynes v. U.S. (309 U.S. 85 (1968))
• The ruling states that registration requirements would
be a violation of a criminals 5th Amendment rights
• Besides the formal ruling by the Supreme Court, it is
obvious that criminals and those that illegally obtain
firearms today will not suddenly become law-abiding
and register their firearms or obtain a license in the
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Should We Treat Guns Like Cars?
• Currently, cars maintained on private property are not
subject to any registration or licensing requirements in
almost all areas of the U.S.
• High powered sports cars are not banned even though they
can well exceed speed limits
• Background checks for previous drunk driving
convictions, vehicular homicide or even the possession of
a drivers license are not performed on car purchases
• No waiting periods are required for car purchases
• There are no storage laws even though cars are frequently
stolen and used in crime and violence
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Guns Like Cars?
• Cheap and inexpensive cars are not banned
• Drivers licenses are rarely revoked even after multiple
serious offenses, such as drunk driving, excessive
speeding, and multiple accidents
• Cars are far more dangerous than firearms with cars
responsible for 32 auto deaths per 100,000 cars and
firearms involved in only 16 per 100,000
• Car deaths are mostly accidents, whereas > 95% of all gun
related deaths are intentional and the result of crime
• Driving a car is NOT a Constitutionally protected right,
but rather a privilege!
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
A True Gun-Like-Cars System
• Already present in the 31 U.S. states that issue concealed
carry permits
• Such concealed carry laws are strongly opposed by gun
control groups regardless of the lower crime rates that have
consistently and continually resulted from such measures
• Permits require background checks, testing, and other
means that exceed most car license requirements
• States that have enacted such laws have seen an immediate
and continual drop in crime rates with few if any instances
of problems from those licensed to carry firearms
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
• Gun registration schemes inevitably lead to confiscation of
firearms from law-abiding citizens and the removal of self-defense
• Gun licensing is focused on honest citizens and therefore only
penalizes and taxes those that are not responsible in any way for
crime or violence
• Criminals are not required to register their guns or obtain a license
based on Supreme Court rulings
• The billions of dollars required to fund such a process would be
simply wasted, instead of used to support proven crime fighting
measures and programs
• There is no crime fighting value to registration or licensing and in
fact such measures will lead to an increase in crime and violence
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Kopel, David B. “Why Treating Guns Like Cars Might Not Be Such a Bad Idea,”
Reason Magazine, November 1999.
Lott, John R., “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws,”
University of Chicago Press, (1998).
Kopel, David B., “Lethal Laws,” 15 N.Y. L. Sch. J. of Int. & Comp. L. 355-398 (1995).
Cramer, Clayton E. & Kopel, David B., "Shall Issue: The New Wave of Concealed
Handgun Permit Laws,” 62 Tenn. L. Rev., 679-757 (1994).
Gottlieb, Alan M., “Gun Ownership: A Constitutional Right,” 10 N. Ky. L. Rev. 113-140
Dowlut, Robert, “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms: A Right to Self-Defense Against
Criminals and Despots,” 8 Stanford L. & Pol. Rev. 25-40 (1997).
U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Haynes v. U.S. (309 U.S. 85, (1968))
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
Recommended Reading
Levinson, Sanford, “The Embarrassing Second Amendment,” 99 Yale L.J. 637-659
Cottrol, Robert J., “A Liberal Democrat's Lament: Gun Control is Racist, Sexist and
Classist,” The American Enterprise, (Sept./Oct. 1999).
Kopel, David B., “The Untold Triumph of Concealed Carry Permits,” 78, Policy Review,
Kopel, David B., “Canadian Gun Control: Should the United States Look North for a
Solution to its Firearms Problem?,” 5 Temple Int'l & Comp. L.J., 1-50 (1991).
Kopel, David B., “Why Good People Own Guns: Better Safe than Sorry,” Los Angeles
Times, p. B-5, (November 26, 1993).
Doctors For Sensible Gun Laws
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