Why is firearms registration a "Good Thing"

So tell me how registering my weapons will reduce crime.

Go ahead. Tell me.


Well, gun “registration” is a bit like “affirmative action” in that nobody can agree on exactly what it means. So first we have to define what we’re talking about. There are some folks who want a list of everyone who owns guns and what guns they have, there are others who simply want a list of everyone who owns guns, and there are others still who want some regulation over who is qualified to own guns (the DMV of firearms, if you will.)

Now it seems to me that the first two, (list of all guns and list of people who own guns) won’t do much of anything. It certainly won’t prevent people from buying guns on the black market, and it won’t prevent people from using guns to commit a crime.

The third, however (and this is coming from a raving gun-rights fanatic) does appeal to me somewhat. I believe you should be required to demonstrate that you can safely operate a firearm in order to own one, so I support mandatory licensing. Keep in mind in this case, just because you have a license doesn’t mean you own a gun. (Not all people with driver’s licenses own cars, for instance.) This really doesn’t have much to do with crime at all, IMO, rather it’s a utilitarian policy to increase safety.

The theory goes that the supply of illegal guns on the black market is directly linked to the supply of legal guns on the… white market?.. the legal market, anyway. Therefore, anything that places more “control” over legal guns also places more “control” over illegal guns.

Although, admittedly, I really don’t understand how a big phone-book-esque listing of who owns what and who doesn’t is supposed to prevent any crimes from happening…

I suppose that, if a person just found his wife getting boned by another man, someone went into a maddened rage and grabbed his gun, he’d stop, think, “Hey, this gun is registered, I’d better not shoot anyone.” Although I don’t think someone in a maddened rage WOULD either “stop” or “think”…

Why, handgun registration is a good idea because it makes the job of the Communist Jack-Booted Thugs that much easier when they come to break your door down and take away your .45 semiauto that’s the only thing protecting you from the Fascist Government and its tanks, attack aircraft and artillery. Duh! :rolleyes:

If you legally purchased your firearm through a licensed gun dealer, your information and the gun you purchased is on file thanks to the 4473 you filled out to purchase it. If the government ever wanted to collect all of the guns from the public, they could aquire probably about 60-70% of them by pulling the files of the FFL holder.

Just an addendum… my references to the “market” above refer to the stores that sell to the end-user, NOT the manufacturers distributing guns. After all, every gun is legally produced… just that, over time, some “fall into the wrong hands”, as it were.

Amusement abounds in Great Debates. Hurf-hurf.

screw those gun registration hyping commies. if you’re afraid of gun violence, buy a gun and protect yourself. if you want the government to protect you by regulating guns, move to europe. don’t sully the efforts of our forefathers by making us give up the rights they fought and died for. the only reason jack booted liberals want us to register our guns is so they can confiscate 'em. you think criminals are going to register their guns? whatever. we already have laws that prevent felons from buying guns. you want to see a policy that really works? check out project exile. two words: second amendment. three words: national rifle association. need i say more? i thought not.

One might argue that registration of guns serves as a mechanism to enforce accountability upon gun owners. The idea is that universal registration will allow guns used in crimes to be traced back to the last lgal owner. This might either lead directly to a criminal or reveal a pattern of illegal acquisition.

I do not think anyone believes that it will “stop crime” or that it will prevent criminals from acquiring guns. It also will not prevent law abiding citizens from acquiring guns. It simply makes it easier to hold those law abiding citizens accountable for some potential consequences of their gun ownership.

I see little reason for responsible gun owners to oppose registration of their weapons in and of itself, though I understand the fear of some that universal registration might open the door to far more restrictive legislation.

me neither, but gun control opponents will never accept any argument in favor of any gun control measure. armchair pro-gun control debaters have the disadvantage of the overwhelming amount of pre and post gun control stats posted on sites like ‘country bob’s real americans guide to freedom and the second amendment’. i never realized how many rednecks were so well versed in constitutional politics until i started checking the web for gun control related crime stats.

Criminals are already exempt from any laws requiring them to register their firearms. Because it is illegal for a convicted criminal to own guns, forcing him to register them would violate his Fifth Amendment pivilege against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this: discussion of Haynes v. U.S., 390 U.S. 85 (1968) So basically, only people who own firearms legally have to register them; people who own firearms illegally, don’t.

that’s why gun hating liberals say that it should be up to the seller to make sure the registration is properly transferred before turning the gun over. if a felon says, well i’m not going to register it and i don’t have to tell you why, then the seller can say, well ok, then you don’t get the gun, bright boy. then the felon walks away without a gun, like he’s in some kind of un-american no-guns allowed commie country.

Max – setting aside for the moment the identification criminal==convicted felon, I see no problem with this so long as the punishment for a felon posessing a firearm is greater than that for not registering a firearm. I would also make sure an appropriate penalty applied to those who sold a firearm without exercising due diligence in verifying the legal status of the buyer.

The pro gun rights people belive that licensing and/or registration are things to resist because they fear that these things are just a means to an end; the “end” being the outlawing of private ownership of guns, and the confiscating of all privately owned guns. They have a point, too. Many (not all, but many) in the pro gun control camp DO seek exactly that as their ultimate goal.

I agree that it would be great if we could see to it that no one became a gun owner without first learning about safe gun handling. But would licensing achieve this goal? It does not seem work very well with licensing drivers – bad drivers abound, and seem to have no difficulty in obtaining and keeping licenses to drive.

That being said, I suppose it couldn’t hurt to require that people take (and pass) a course in safe gun handling before they’re allowed to own a gun. Some of those who will only take such a class if forced to may gain (and retain) some useful knowledge that they would otherwise not possess. We might bring about a reduction in careless gun accidents; we wouldn’t eliminate them.

I understand the objection to registration (seen as a step toward confiscation). I don’t really understand the objection to licensing. It is true that having a license does not necessarily mean that one has a gun. Perhaps the pro gun rights people think that the govt will ASSUME that most with licenses are indeed gun owners, and when they outlaw guns, they will go the homes of all with licenses to seach for guns and seize whatever they find? The assumption that most with licsences are owners would probably be correct.

Personally, I don’t want to see the private ownership of guns outlawed. I don’t think it’s possible to justify denying people the right to own the means to defend themselves vs. criminals. The police can’t act as bodyguards for every honest citizen. All they can do is investigate crimes after the fact.

And banning guns would not work any more then banning drugs has, any more then banning alcohol did. If people can’t buy legal guns, they’ll buy black market guns.

I have asked this query some 4 times now, from several difffernt folks, and not recieved an answer. Where do you get the idea that criminals routinely leave their guns behind at the crime scene, so they CAN be traced? This is a very rare occurance. Next, criminals routinely get their guns in such a way that they could NOT be 'traced" back to them. So, perhaps, maybe, 1 crime in 10000 (IMHO), with a clumsy AND stupid criminal could be solved. However, the police don’t have much problems catching the stupid criminals, you know.

In order to even balance out the horrendus paperwork & cost such a system would have- you need to be able to postulate a SIGNIFICANT reduction in violent crime, not 1 in 10000. Show me a 50% reduction. Heck- how about a 10% reduction? Not a .01% reduction, tho- sorry.

I don’t. The direct apprehension I spoke of is not necessarily limited to such circumstances. Guns are sometimes stolen from law abiding citizens. Possession of such a gun, which had been duly registered and reported stolen, might be direct evidence of a criminal action. Also, not all crimes are preceded by careful planning. It is hardly inconceivable that a desperate/angry/irrational person might commit a crime with a weapon that he had purchased without planning any such use.

What I am curious about is the presumption that all crime is comitted by informed professionals who take all reasonable precautions to avoid detection and that it is therefore absurd to take any action which will not be effective against these superthugs.

Well, as long as you are pulling numbers out of the air, perhaps you can pull some about the relative costs of states registering weapons versus states registering automobiles.

Frankly, any argument based upon “expected number of crimes solved” is a castle in the sky. We have no reliable way of generating such numbers. I simply argue that accountability is a reasonable request when a citizen takes the power to kill other citizens into his hand. Is your counterargument really “accountability would cost too much”?

1 in 10000? Three out of four homicides* are committed by someone the victim knows - a spouse, family member, or friend. The police officers talk to these people anyway in the course of a routine investigation. If guns are registered, the officer can just ask, “Mr. Smith, you have a so-and-so type gun registered under your name, can you show us where it is?” If it’s similar to the suspected murder weapon, they can take it to the ballistics lab for testing. If the gun has recently “gone missing,” the police have all the more reason to consider them a suspect. The gun may have really been stolen, but it may also have been disposed of, and if subsequent investigations turn up more evidence against that individual, then gun registration has helped solve a murder.
*Yes, this is for all homicides, but the ratio for gun homicides wouldn’t be so completely different that this wouldn’t still be useful for investigative work.

Indeed, guns do get stolen. A registration database might facilitate returning stolen firearms to their owners, but it hasn’t worked out all that well for cars, which are a hell of a lot less concealable. In any case, the police can’t just start frisking someone for a gun unless they have probable cause in the first place; finding a weapon on the person then gives the police reason to detain him until they’ve worked out what’s up. So let’s say that happens, and our registration database tells us that the firearm is stolen; what now? The fact that the gun is stolen is no evidence in itself that the person intended some other crime; perhaps he was on his way to the pawnshop. At best, we get a “possession of stolen property” charge out of this, and how many taxpayer dollars did we spend creating the database for this meager benefit?

You last sentence here confuses me; how would registration prevent such crimes? Or are you arguing that, if the Massive Gun Database shows that an individual who knows a murder victim owns a gun, that individual should bear a presumption of guilt solely because he owns a gun?

Not “informed professionals”, perhaps, but certainly recidivists. Don B. Kates, in Guns and Public Health: Epidemic of Violence or Pandemic of Propaganda?, 61 Tenn. L. Rev. 513 (1994), tells us that about 75% of murderers have prior adult criminal records, with criminal careers spanning an average of six years. Half of the remaining 25% are juveniles and thus have no adult criminal records. So, registration will stop these people how, given that they are not obligated to register any guns they possess?

This is the best I can find on registering automobiles. It only covers California, because auto registration is a state matter, as I’m sure you’re aware: Analysis of the 2000-01 Budget Bill: Department of Motor Vehicles. The responsibilities of the California DMV are “protecting the public interest in vehicle ownership by registering vehicles, and for promoting public safety on California’s roads and highways by issuing driver licenses. Additionally, the department licenses and regulates vehicle-related businesses such as automobile dealers and driver training schools, and also collects certain fee and tax revenues for state and local agencies.” Probably pretty much the same tasks you’d want done by a firearm registration agency, right?

So, here’s the painful part: the California DMV expects to spend $632.7 million for the 2000-01 fiscal year. That’ll cover the needs of one state (admittedly, the largest one, population-wise). Reckon the gun registration system will cost much less?

Accountability? I own a gun, I have committed no crime; what do I need to account for? Why should I be punished when I haven’t done anything wrong?

Besides, we’ve come no nearer to answering the grand question of “how will registration prevent crime?” Registration won’t prevent a crime of passion; by definition, the perpetrator isn’t thinking clearly and won’t be deterred by thoughts of being caught. I also fail to see how registration will deter a planning, determined murderer, apart from making his task slightly less convenient. At best, registration drops a cloud of suspicion on all gun owners close to the victim, which rather offends the idea of “innocent until proven guilty.”

Don’t let’s prejudge people, eh?

Er, wrong. The 1999 FBI Uniform Crime Reports tell us that 48 percent of murder victims knew their assailants, breaking down into 14% related to the assailant and 34% “acquainted with” the assailant. Unfortunately, the UCR doesn’t tell us how many of those acquaintances were, say, members of rival gangs. “Acquaintance” does not equal “friend”.

>1 Possesion of a stolen watch is illegal without “registration”. With guns, once you inform the police it is stolen, including the serial number- registration is meaningless.

>2 Ok, I will admit that a certain class of criminals are “stupid”, but they would also have to be butter-fingered, too. if they are too stupid to pre-plan a drive-by, which i could buy. there is always the “east river”. Look, I sat on a Grand Jusry for a year. I am on a Public safety commission, i know a judge & a police captain- I never saw any crime where the criminal left the gun at the crimescene. Nor could the Judge (altho I will admit he said “Not offhand”). The captian had a funny story about one such case- but since he also crashed his car some 200 yds down the road from the hold-up, they did not need to 'trace" the gun.

>3 Why is registration “accountability”? Is not the fact that if my gun is used and I am negligent, I can go to prison- enought accountability?

Look, Unclebeer & I have asked a question over & over:“Show us how registration will reduce violent crime”. So far- no winners.

Well, throw everybody in jail and there CAN’T be any violent crime! We’ll all live in one big jailtopia, free from the oppressiveness and inherent evil of guns! Woo!