Monday, September 13, 2010

The Whining Illogic About Registering Long Guns

It makes no sense. Listen to people who oppose the long gun registry, and you get all of these brainless platitudes about "lifestyle" and "heritage" ... or how farmers need to have guns to deal with wildlife like coyotes raiding their livestock.

The gun registry changes none of those things. Not one.

Yet, none of these vocal opponents will answer one simple question: "How is registering a gun any different than registering your car?"

Think about it for a moment. Our cars are every bit as much a part of our culture these days. We all register our cars willingly - acknowledging the validity of the government's claim to regulate our use of motor vehicles.

Yet, when you point this out to opponents of the gun registry, they ignore the underlying point entirely. Somewhere, somehow, it gets twisted into an argument about "their right" to have firearms, as if it's any different from registering a car.

The criminals still steal cars and use them for crimes. How is this different from criminal use of firearms? It isn't.

What differentiates long guns from cars? Not much ... except their use in domestic violence:

In 2008, in Ontario the RCMP’s Annual Report on the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) stated there were 165 women and children were killed in domestic violence. The figure increases to 230 when you add male victims of domestic violence – the majority of which were suicides by the domestic violence perpetrator.


To what purpose is registering a firearm? It serves the same purpose as registering a car. If one gets stolen, it can be traced when it turns up; if one gets used in a crime, it becomes easier to link the registered firearm's disappearance.

But, above all, it's about accountability. Just as I am obliged as a car owner to keep my vehicle in reasonable repair and to operate it as safely as possible - so is a gun owner obliged to store their guns safely, and to use them only when safe to do so.

In truth, it is my opinion that gun owners should be required not only to register the guns, but also to carry liability insurance. This isn't about "big brother" government, it's about personal responsibility and accountability. Plain and simple.

4 comments:

Niles said...

Actually, we don't all register our vehicles willingly. There are plenty of people who consider it a state imposition and ripoff of monies, not to mention a way for government agencies to monitor a person's whereabouts.

Citizens of a state register vehicles because it's the enforced law to have them registered, if you're going to drive them. Registration is part and parcel of proof of ownership and mandatory insurance. No valid registration, you're committing an illegal act getting in the vehicle and driving it. Why? Because a vehicle (often of several tons weight) is a damage-causing transport once set in motion.

I don't know if there are arguments against private transport being registered because it would then enable the government to come and confiscate your vehicle, but that seems the main fear/anxiety/dread about firearms.

Of course, confiscation is the main theme of the American NRA and has been since the days of Civil War Reconstruction when the NRA popped up in the wake of US federal banishment of the KKK nightriders.

If we in this country are facing arbitrary *confiscation* of legally owned weapons by LEOs of the state, that's a horse of a different colour and I'm not sure why that more primal, distrusting fear is not being addressed.

Instead, the government itself, the Conservatives in power, are fanning the flames that the State will arbitrarily confiscate privately owned legal small arms if the registry goes on. Why are they being allowed to get away with this phrasing?

MgS said...

@Niles:

I haven't heard one opponent of the gun registry actually voice any objection to registering their cars.

The confiscation canard is devoid of real meaning. It's a straw man, frankly - a distraction from the real issue which is being accountable and responsible.

When we talk about having to prove ownership and insurance for cars because "they are several tons of damage-causing transport", I fail to see how that is meaningfully different from a firearm - a device whose purpose in the first place is to end lives, violently.

Anonymous said...

How is registering firearms different from registering motor vehicles?

1. Vehicles need only be registered if they are used on a
public road.
2. There is a fear that registering firearms is a preliminary
step in their eventual confiscation.
3. There is a strong belief in the lack of competence in
implementing such a registry.

I believe that a person should be licensed in order to possess firearms. Both to show that they are competent to do so, and that they are lawfully allowed to do so. I do not believe that registering those firearms increases public safety.

It is claimed that knowing a certain person possesses firearms is a benefit to law enforcement officers. Any officer that proceeds on the belief that there are no firearms present at an address because there are no firearms registered at that address will eventually become the victim of a nasty surprise. It is much safer to assume that there are weapons present, whatever the registry claims.

The claim that registering firearms make them easier to return to the owner if they happen to be stolen. By that logic, all laptops and computers should be registered with the government as well.

I still haven't figured out how registering a firearm will prevent someone from using it to commit suicide.

-The Bungle Lord

MgS said...

@Nazrat:

With respect to item 1, registering a motor vehicle for use on the roads is a matter of public safety. Operating an unregistered vehicle is a crime. Guns are a matter of public safety. PERIOD.

As for item 2, that strikes me as an excuse, not a reason. The same could be argued about vehicles, but I don't hear the argument made. There is sufficient legitimate reasons for people to own long guns that I seriously doubt that any reasonable government would attempt a mass confiscation.

Item 3 you raise is similarly excuse making. We tend to accuse government of gross inefficiency in anything they implement - be it gun registrations, vehicle registry or health care. Saying such does not invalidate the purpose of said same.

With respect to the public safety aspect of guns, remember that the legislation around the registry also placed significant obligations on the owner of said guns vis a vis their storage. It is in fact the storage requirements involved that (in most cases, one hopes) creates the cooling off period needed to make someone stop themselves from using said gun during a heated domestic incident. (See the statistic I referred to earlier - women and children are overwhelmingly the victims in domestic firearms incidents - and I would similarly remind you of the 1989 Montreal Massacre)

The registry's uses for law enforcement are something beyond my understanding - but I don't see a big problem with it either way.

It's a gun - register it. Frankly, I'd like to see a requirement added for gun owners to carry personal liability insurance of a million or two.