OPINION – The best part about the latest State of the Union address was when commentator Lew Rockwell referred to the endless standing ovations as “fascist jumping jacks.” This yearly spectacle has become a self-congratulatory ritual of sorts for the celebration of the state by its biggest supporters.
Not surprisingly, the biggest applause of the night was reserved for the president’s calls for expanding gun control.
Since the Newtown massacre two months ago, the president along with Sen. Diane Feinstein have agitated tirelessly for legislation that they insist will “reduce gun violence.” Among their proposed solutions are a ban on self-loading rifles and standard capacity magazines, and the implementation of universal background checks for every firearm transfer. The first two items are very unlikely to be voted on, much less passed into law.
That last item is the one to keep an eye on, since it’s the most likely to pass with the help of Republicans in Congress. But these seemingly reasonable universal background checks could actually be one of the most dangerous laws to be proposed in some time.
There are several obvious problems associated with federal background checks. Note that these proposed checks would apply to every firearm “transfer” not simply firearms sales. This means that every firearm that changes hands, whether as a gift, an inheritance, or as a sale, must be subject to government approval or the transfer will be considered a crime.
When this is the case, every person is considered to be a felon, or otherwise ineligible to own a firearm until they have proven to the government’s satisfaction that they are not. This completely turns the time-honored concept of “innocent until proven guilty” on its head. It prevents people from exercising an inalienable right without first observing due process or even showing probable cause that they shouldn’t be able to do so.
It converts a personal right that preexists government into a privilege that becomes subject to the prevailing whims of government.
If, for some reason, the government’s background check computer system were to shut down, either accidentally or on purpose, it would effectively halt the ability of every law-abiding person to legally transfer a firearm. Criminals, in the meantime, would continue to operate outside the law and to steal, buy, or otherwise acquire their guns through non-traceable sources.
Universal background checks could also serve as an entrance to what former FBI agent Dale C. Carlson calls “the electronic plantation.” By this, Carlson refers to how personal information, once gathered by the government, becomes part of an ever-growing government database.
For instance, in the days when records were kept on paper, if a person were arrested, they could move to a new town, change their name and get a fresh start on life. Now even arrests that did not result in conviction can show up in employment background checks and disqualify people from certain jobs. There is nowhere that escapes the coverage of this electronic umbrella.
When every firearms transfer must first pass through a government computer system, it will create a permanent electronic record of who owns what guns. Government has no business keeping track of lawfully owned private property. The only time the state should enter the picture is when probable cause exists that someone has committed an actual crime in which there is a victim.
Does any reasonable person still believe that the records of firearms ownership will not be kept and used to the advantage of those in power? Historically, governments that have kept records of private firearms ownership, have later gone on to use those records for registration and then confiscation.
While many of the nation’s gun owners are busy fighting the proposed bans on evil black rifles and regular capacity magazines, they may be missing the bigger threat that is more liable to become law.
It’s extremely likely that Obama, Feinstein, and their congressional cohorts have deliberately aimed high with their sweeping gun and magazine bans in order to compromise to reach a seemingly lesser goal. They may even act disappointed when settling for mandatory background checks, but these checks could easily set the stage for full-scale registration and eventual confiscation.
There is nothing reasonable or common sense about allowing government to consider you a criminal until you prove otherwise. Nor is it wise to convert the natural right of self-defense into a privilege requiring the state’s permission.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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