The Second Amendment

Has a Gaping Hole

The Second Amendment has long been held to prevent mostrestrictions on the saleofguns to ensure the availability of arms for the “well-regulated militia.”

They are, perhaps, the most vexing words in the Constitution. However one interprets them, it IS clear that states can require all gun sales to be registered and that unregistered guns can be taken away.

Indeed, a handful of states already require registration to varying degrees – encompassing all firearms in Hawaii, California and Washington, D.C., assault weapons and/or handguns in a handful of others.

But even more states PROHIBIT the registration of firearms as an infringement of Second Amendment rights. The vast majority ignore the subject entirely.

Federal law forbids using the existing background check system – meant to keep guns from felons — as a registry of firearms.

While it would be a lot better for there to be fewer guns everywhere, that is not politically possible, at least at this time. But registration should be achievable in a fair number of states, in large part because it works. Six of the 10 states with the lowest per-capita firearms mortality require registration of some or all firearms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (the District of Columbia, which is not included in the CDC figures, would be a seventh). In those states, gun deaths occur at about half the rate of the next best states, and at a quarter of the worst states.

Registration of firearms (at the original point of sale and any time possession changed hands) need not be any more onerous than a driver’s license. The penalties for possession or use of an unregistered gun could be quite significant.

People could be given a reasonable period for either disposing of guns or properly registering them. Failing to do so could lead to very large fines and confiscation of the guns.

And the appropriate government officials could have ample authority to subpoena owners and their guns. And, citizens could be rewarded appropriately for calling unregistered guns to their attention.

Every time there are fatal mass shootings (45 in a recent 30-day period, according to CNN), or tragic accidents (too many involving children), the population grinds its teeth with frustration.

If we cannot reduce the number of guns out there, at least we can know where they are and who owns them.

That, hopefully, would reduce shootings and, in due course, lead to fewer guns.

And, who would be hurt?

Law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves and their homes would be better off, and the loopholes that put guns in the wrong hands would be closed.

Bottom line: gun registration saves lives. In a nation becoming too casual about preventable deaths, that cannot be ignored.


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