Would Controversial Gun Bill Have Created a National Registry? We Have The Answers
Senate Bill S 649, which was narrowly defeated this week, has created a firestorm of arguments, opinions, and confusion. Fortunately, we found some clear, concise information to make it more understandable.
Besides enacting new restrictions that would prevent mentally unstable individuals from purchasing or possessing firearms, the two big issues discussed about the bill were expanded backround checks for virtually all weapons sales and transfers, and if it would create a national gun registry.
The award-winning website Politifact.com has an excellent, easy to read analysis of the bill. From a story published April 10, 2013 - we have bolded certain words for emphasis:
The bill would require "a background check for every firearm sale" — or transfer of ownership — with a few exceptions, such as for certain family members. Right now, federal background checks are only required for sales through licensed gun dealers.
Violating these proposed changes would result in federal prosecution, according to the bill.
The other major issue raised was, would S. 649 create a national federal gun registry?
Currently, the National Instant Criminal Backround Check System is the database used by the FBI to determine if you're legally allowed to buy a firearm. Current federal law requires once you are cleared, your information has to be destroyed, and the law prohibits the creation of a federal gun registry.
Politifact asked several attorneys if the language in S. 649 changes that, and they said no. However, they did find some of the language tucked into the bill leaves a backdoor open for another type of database:
Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the language of the bill leaves a door open for a new kind of record of sales between private sellers — as opposed to sales by federally licensed gun dealers — a record that may not be subject to the registry ban.
"We have a real fear with this particular legislative language that this would result in new records being created," he said.
He points to a legal phrase in the bill — "notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter" — as perhaps allowing creation and, later, collection of those records, even though existing law rules out "a system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions."
In the final analysis of S. 649, it does expand backround checks on most gun transfers, but does not explicitly create a national registry. However, it does leave the door open for future action down the road. Robert Heller, board chairman for the Cato Institute, and a vigorous defender of gun rights says:
expanding background checks creates a data trail that Americans must trust is being destroyed in a timely way by the federal government.
That is what concerns many pro-gun groups and individuals about S 649 and other such bills that have been, and are likely to continue to be proposed. Gun control and confiscation won't happen overnight, but gradually 2nd Amendment rights will be chipped away. Supporters say tightening the laws and restrictions even more will weed out criminals and those who are unfit for the responsibility of owning a weapon.
The best thing citizens can do is read, study, investigate and decide for themselves. It took Newstalk 870 hours of searching and study to find understandable, sensible research on just this one bill alone.