Freedom is Not a Loophole
by Ari Armstrong
This article originally appeared in the May 27 edition of the Longmont Daily Times-Call and is reprinted here with permission.
Background registration checks on gun buyers don't stop criminals, they make it harder for honest people to defend their families.
But the group Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease, wants to expand background registration checks in Colorado to include private sales at gun shows.
Background registration checks violate the Colorado Constitution, which states: "The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property... shall be called in question..." Since August of last year, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has wrongfully denied hundreds if not thousands of law-abiding Coloradans their right to purchase a firearm for self-defense.
Further, background registration checks turn the traditional concept of justice on its head. In America, we're innocent until proven guilty, right? Ha! If CBI wrongfully denies you your right to keep and bear arms, it is then up to you to prove yourself innocent to the CBI before you can purchase the firearm. This also violates the due process clauses of the Colorado Constitution.
The CBI contacts the FBI to conduct a separate background check. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the FBI has begun keeping records of honest gun owners who go through a background check. This is true even though the Brady bill as originally proposed was supposed to prevent the FBI from registering gun owners.
As history has proven time and again, registration of gun owners leads to confiscation of firearms. Just ask the Australians, where a 1996 gun ban led to a massive increase in violent crime. Britain, Canada, and Germany's Weimar Republic followed a similar path. Right now, California officials are trying (with little success) to confiscate select semi-automatic rifles which were previously registered with the government. The State always seeks to increase its power over the citizens. When gun owners are registered, it's only a matter of time before their civil liberties to bear arms are stripped of them.
But that's an argument for the long-term. What about the here and now? Do background registration checks decrease crime right now? No. Yale Professor John Lott, Jr., in his book *More Guns, Less Crime* found "no crime-reduction benefits from state-mandated... background checks before people are allowed to buy a gun" (20).
Disarmament advocates frequently claim that background checks stop X number of criminals from buying a gun, but that's false. Criminals merely resort to theft or the black market to get guns. But many honest people are left defenseless. Lott continues, "No statistically significant evidence has appeared that the Brady [background check] law has reduced crime, and there is some statistically significant evidence that rates for rape and aggravated assault have actually risen by about 4 percent relative to what they would have been without the law" (162).
Background registration checks especially hurt the poor, who lack both the funds to pay for the added costs of the checks and the legal expertise to prove themselves innocent to CBI if they are wrongfully denied. But poor people in high-crime areas most urgently need firearms to defend their families. Lott summarizes, "Law-abiding minorities in the most crime-prone areas produce the greatest crime reductions from being able to defend themselves" (70).
But anti-gun politicians seem to care about neither civil liberties nor the poor.
Contrary to phrases made popular by gun-grabbing politicians, background registration checks are UNreasonable laws that empower criminals and endanger the lives of children. Background registration checks should not be expanded to cover private sales at gun shows -- they should be repealed.
Arnie Grossman, a founder of the so-called SAFE lobby group, called his background registration initiative a "first step" toward the further restriction of civil gun rights. If private sales at gun shows are somehow "loopholes," then the next "loophole" to close will be all private sales. The final "loophole" will then be the Second Article of the Bill of Rights and the related clause in the Colorado Constitution.
The First Amendment is not subject to federal licensing and mandatory background registration checks. But the civil right of self-defense is even more fundamental. Freedom is not a loophole. We don't need less freedom and fewer civil liberties, we need more.