By Teresa Welsh |
Congress should return to the drawing board with its so-called "universal background check" effort because the reported legislation goes far beyond the concept of simply clearing a law-abiding citizen for the purchase of a firearm and delves into de facto gun registration and possibly criminalizing the simple act of loaning a gun to a friend.
Gun rights advocates are properly alarmed about a provision in the current measure to require record keeping on private transactions or transfers. While the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is not opposed to instant background checks, the proposed record keeping mandate crosses the line.
Under current federal law, background check information is destroyed after 24 hours, and that is the way it should be. In addition to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, gun owners also have a Fourth Amendment right to privacy. Any measure that would establish a permanent record of their firearms transactions is unacceptable.
When the government creates a database, they use it, and not always for good purpose. If someone owns one or a dozen guns, to use and carry responsibly, it's nobody's business and certainly not the government's business.
Pushing legislation with backdoor gun registration hiding in the small print does nothing to encourage serious discussion with gun rights advocates or organizations. Millions of law-abiding citizens who have committed no crime, but only wish to exercise a constitutionally-protected civil right, should not be treated like criminals or played for fools.
Legislation that leaves gun owners vulnerable to privacy invasion by a snoopy government is unwarranted and unnecessary. After all, this is still the United States, not a police state.
About Alan Gottlieb Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence