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The New York Times’ Absurd Pitch To Register Guns, Fingerprint Owners

The New York Times’ Absurd Pitch To Register Guns, Fingerprint Owners

Photo credit: Mark Trost/GettyImages

The New York Times published an op-ed May 31 that uses some truly absurd “logic” to push national, federal registration of firearms and fingerprinting of gun owners as a solution to violent crime. 

Under the headline “Gun Control That Actually Works,” author Alan Berlow—who has demonstrated his journalistic “fairness” and lack of bias by labeling the NRA “a lobby for criminals” and “a twisted, paranoid organization whose main achievement is to have made law enforcement harder”—descends yet again into hyperbole and hokum by arguing, in essence, that the reason some people don’t commit crimes is because they’re law-abiding peopleUpshot: The reason some people don’t commit crimes is because they’re law-abiding people. Stop the presses!

Stop the presses! 

Berlow points to the National Firearms Act (NFA), a 1934 law that regulates the ownership of machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and short-barreled rifles, as “a model we should build on.” 

For those unfamiliar with the NFA, the law requires owners of those types of firearms to undergo a rigorous background check; register the NFA-covered firearms with the federal government by make, model and serial number; pay a $200-per-firearm fee; submit a photograph and the fingerprints of the owner; and abide by various other regulations. 

Berlow writes: 

“N.F.A.-classified weapons do show up at crime scenes. But nearly all of them were unregistered, so the simple act of possession was a crime. According to A.T.F. analysis, among N.F.A. weapon owners there were only 12 felony convictions between 2006 and 2014, and those crimes did not involve an N.F.A. weapon. If that conviction rate were applied to the owners of the other privately owned firearms in the United States, gun crime would virtually disappear.” 

Yet instead of connecting the dots so clearly in front of him, and observing the obvious underlying idea—that people who obey the laws governing ownership of such firearms also obey the other laws on the books, and that criminals are as unlikely to obey the National Firearms Act as they are to obey any other law—Berlow manages to conclude that the NFA somehow prevents people from committing crimes


As Berlow concludes, “Eighty years of experience with the N.F.A. have demonstrated that people who register weapons rarely commit crimes.” 

Yet that’s like saying that the reason Right-to-Carry permit holders commit far fewer crimes, per capita, than the general population—which is true—is because Right-to-Carry laws somehow prevent these law-abiding gun owners from committing crimes. 

It’s absurd. And the fact that The New York Times would even print such hogwash is a testament to the newspaper’s blind, unquestioning anti-gun bias. 

Eighty years of experience with the NFA may not tell us anything useful about gun ownership and crime, but far more history—not just in the United States, but around the world—has shown that gun confiscation depends upon gun registration in much the same way that thunder depends upon lightning. “A government which does not trust its citizens to be armed is not itself to be trusted.” — Machiavelli

Gun registration lists have been used to confiscate firearms in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Cuba, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, the Philippines, Soviet Georgia and other places, including here in the United States, from New York to California.  

That’s why the U.S. federal government specifically prohibited firearm registration in 1941, and has barred the creation of a federal registry of firearms or firearm owners numerous times since then. 

If, as is generally agreed, a primary purpose of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is to deter and defeat any tyrannical government that should ever arise, as history shows us they inevitably do, then allowing any government to create the one tool it needs to disarm the people—a central national registry of firearms and their owners—cannot help but defeat the purpose of the Second Amendment. 

That’s not some wild-eyed conspiracy theory. It’s documented history

And it’s not some modern fabrication of NRA fundraisers, it’s a proven principle going back to Aristotle, who said some 23 centuries ago that the single best indicator of how free any society is, is the degree to which its rulers or governments trust the people with arms. 

One of the framers of the U.S. Constitution, John Adams, hearkened back to that classical tradition when he wrote that “one consequence” of popular arms ownership was “that nothing could at any time be imposed upon the people but by their consent ... As Aristotle tells us, in his fourth book of Politics, the Grecian states ever had special care to place the use and exercise of arms in the people, because the commonwealth is theirs who hold the arms: the sword and sovereignty ever walk hand in hand together.” 

Or—to view that same principle from a different perspective—as Machiavelli wrote: “A government which does not trust its citizens to be armed is not itself to be trusted.”

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