Why Do Gun Owners Fear Registration? Ask a DREAMer
Jon Stokes 10.09.17
When the Obama administration announced its plan to offer a limited amnesty for undocumented immigrants who met certain conditions, immigrant-rights advocates were ecstatic. Or, at least, many of them were.
In exchange for registering themselves with the federal government under the auspices of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the so-called DREAMers could get a work permit and remain in the country without fear of deportation. They could pay their taxes and do many of the types of things that citizens do, all in exchange for letting the government know they’re in the country illegally.
Some advocacy groups who work with immigrant populations had reservations about the program, though, and warned that by alerting the government to their presence in the US, DREAMers were opening themselves up to easy identification and deportation should the political winds change and a sufficiently immigration-hostile administration take power. But such mass deportation was considered unlikely, and maybe even a little crazy–up until it wasn’t.
Regardless of where gun-rights supporters stand on the issue of illegal immigration and DACA, they should get a sympathetic chill down their spines when contemplating what registration with the feds is costing the DREAMers. What is happening to this population is an analog of what gun owners fear will naturally result from a national gun registry.
If all firearms are registered in a centralized federal database, American gun ownership will suddenly be at the mercy of shifting political winds in a way that it just isn’t if nobody knows who has what.
Sure, on most days the idea of a national gun confiscation effort seems a little “out there.” We’re told again and again that “Nobody is coming for your guns” (even while we’re also told that certain types of guns should be banned).
But think about the following scenario: Hillary Clinton has just been elected to a second term in 2020, having run once again with gun control as a major platform plank; the national rifle & shotgun registry that she passed during her first term in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting has been supplemented with information purchased from the same commercial data brokers who sell our every online move to social media platforms and online retailers; so at this point the Federal government has a nearly complete catalog of every lawfully-owned American long gun, whether the owner voluntarily registered it or not. Then another mass shooter takes to the streets with an AR-15 and sets a new body-count record.
Can you really imagine that an AR-15 ban *and confiscation* wouldn’t follow under such circumstances? I don’t think this is at all a stretch.
Obviously, we don’t live in the timeline where Clinton won even a first term, much less a second. I offer this hypothetical, though, as a way of thinking about how close we came to a world in which a registration-backed confiscation effort is a real possibility, and how close we still may be should the tide turn dramatically in 2020.
I think the warning that gun registration will lead to confiscation is just like the warning to the DREAMers that registration would lead to deportation: ridiculous until it suddenly isn’t. And on the day that it isn’t, there’s no way to go back in time and unregister. The door is closed, and you’re stuck with the consequences.