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The Newtown families II

Thanks for the comments on Wednesday’s post. It’s nice to know someone is reading them.

A few points.

First, nobody is “pimping” the Newtown families. They organized on their own and sought out the publicity they’ve been getting.

Second, the Supreme Court ended the debate about an individual’s right to bear arms. It also ended the debate about whether the government may regulate firearms. You may, and it may.

Third, if you watch the CBS piece with the families, you’ll note that, despite their unimaginable losses, none of them want to ban even “assault” rifles. They are focused on magazine size and background checks.

Fourth, by law, National Instant Criminal Background Check System records are destroyed within 24 hours. The FBI retains records of those who applied to purchase a gun, but were denied. State sales record retention requirements vary widely.

Fifth, because there is no master list of gun owners, we don’t know exactly how many guns there are in the country. Most estimates put it at about 300 million. As a practical matter, how would you organize an effort to find and seize all those guns when you don’t know who has one?

Sixth, just for the sake of argument, let’s say you decide to at least make a dent in the number of guns and kick off your seizure and confiscation effort in one of the 22 states that requires sellers to retain records. Pennsylvania would be a good one. Gun dealers there have to keep their sales records for 20 years. You walk into a gun store and ask the owner for his records. Unless you (pardon the expression) hold a gun to his head, he will say, “No.” You go to a judge and ask the court to order the dealer to surrender his records. The judge says, “No,” because gun ownership is a right under the Constitution affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Nobody is going to confiscate anybody’s guns. It would be illegal, and impossible. An attempt to make that part of the current debate is at best a distraction, and at worst irresponsible.