Monday, May 28, 2007

Banning Guns and Gun Owners

The anti-gun forces in this country have seen their grandiose plans for complete civil disarmament dashed enough times that they have had to devise a new strategy. With citizen groups like Gun Owners of America (GOA) and National Rifle Association (NRA) standing in their way, the gun-ban crowd have had to develop a strategy of gradual incrementalism, nibbling away at the edges of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms until someday, they hope, there will be no substance left to it. Some of the current crop of anti-gun legislation now percolating through the Democrat Congress are great examples of this strategy. Ban a few guns here, such as with HR 1022 (the ban on so-called “Assault Weapons”) and ban a few gun owners there, with HR 297 (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS] Improvement Act).

The NICS computer system was part of the original Brady Bill and requires that anyone purchasing a firearm from a gun dealer must submit to an “instant” check against an FBI file of people with criminal histories. Despite being unconstitutional, (firstly as an infringement upon the 2nd Amendment, secondly in Near v. Minnesota the Supreme Court ruled that the government should only punish the abuse of a right not place prior restraints on that right, thirdly as a violation of the 10th Amendment since the Constitution gives Congress no such authority anyway) and being backdoor gun registration (the law states that the name of the gun buyer must be destroyed “immediately” after passing the background check, the FBI originally interpreted that as permission to keep the list of gun buyers for 18 months [they had to settle for 6 months]) the NRA approved of the NICS as a political compromise instead of a 3 day waiting period for background checks.

The proposed “improvement” of NICS would force states to send the Feds all records that the Attorney General believes may help the FBI determine who is and who is not a prohibited person. The bill does not specify what records that may or may not include. To keep guns out of the hands of illegal aliens and others who are prohibited those records could include medical, tax, court, employment, traffic, psychological, or education records, anything and everything.

All these records on gun owners and non-gun owners alike would be sent to the FBI without a warrant and without judicial or Congressional oversight, an open invitation for a corrupt administration to gather reams of information on its political enemies. And since all of your most personal information would be stored in one system, it would also be an open invitation for hackers or governmental carelessness to release that information. Those of you who, like me, received a letter from the Veteran’s Administration last year saying that our personal records may have been compromised when a VA employee misplaced his laptop computer understand what a problem that could create.

Another problem with the whole thing is that along with violent felons, the background checks prohibit a lot of people that you might not suspect. Soldiers returning from Iraq or anyone else daring to seek help for stress or depression may be denied. How many existing or potential gun owners will not seek the medical help that they may need, for fear of losing their Constitutional rights?

People who have had a misdemeanor domestic violence charge or restraining order would be denied. While that may conjure up visions of violent ex-husbands and psychotic stalkers, that isn’t always the case. I know of a girl who, while attending college, got into a shouting match with one of her female roommates outside their building. During the exchange she grabbed the other girl’s shirt. That was all it took. Someone watching from the building called the cops. Since the girls in the argument both had the same address it was an instant “domestic violence” charge. And some courts issue restraining orders as a preventive measure during divorce proceedings, even though there have been no violence or real threats of it. People in such situations may well find themselves stripped of their Constitutional rights for no good reason.

Since NRA signed off on the original NICS, they are supporting this “improvement” of it. Gun Owners of America now stands alone against this infringement on the people’s rights. All gun owners (GOA members or not) as well as anyone who values privacy rights needs to help GOA bar the door against HR 297, a massive expansion of the federal surveillance state.

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