Gun owners must be wondering what in bloody blue blazes the malfunctioning media is talking about when referring to the gun legislation just defeated in the Senate as a background-check bill.
“Don’t we already have those?”, they’d be asking themselves. And they’d be right.
If you’ve purchased a gun from a dealer, and you have a Concealed Pistol License, you’ve undergone a background check. I have. According to the law in my state, the firearms dealer must run you through the NICS—National Instant Criminal Background Check System— for an instant check prior to delivery.
Most states have similar laws.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama delivered a canned performance of righteous indignation, with activists beating on breast behind him over the defeat of the savior bill. A “shameful day for Washington,” raged Obama, who is master of the cliche.
The defeated Manchin-Toomey amendment has been misrepresented by the jokers of the media as no more than “a compromise on a fraction of the comprehensive gun control package the president called for after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.”
However, the extent of the Obama media’s doublespeak becomes clear when the legal implications of Toomey-Manchin are unpacked by Second-Amendment scholar David Kopel.
The “badly miswritten” Toomey-Manchin Amendment was “in fact a major advancement for gun control,” writes Kopel at The Volokh Conspiracy, a group blog written by law professors.
Particularly interesting is what Kopel has discovered with respect to “The provision which claims to outlaw national gun registration.” It “in fact authorizes a national gun registry”:
Let’s start with registration. Here’s the Machin-Toomey text.
(c) Prohibition of National Gun Registry.-Section 923 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
“(m) The Attorney General may not consolidate or centralize the records of the
“(1) acquisition or disposition of firearms, or any portion thereof, maintained by
“(A) a person with a valid, current license under this chapter;
“(B) an unlicensed transferor under section 922(t); or
“(2) possession or ownership of a firearm, maintained by any medical or health insurance entity.”.
The limit on creating a registry applies only to the Attorney General (and thus to entities under his direct control, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). By a straightforward application of inclusio unius exclusio alterius it is permissible for entities other than the Attorney General to create gun registries, using whatever information they can acquire from their own operations. For example, the Secretary of HHS may consolidate and centralize whatever firearms records are maintained by any medical or health insurance entity. The Secretary of the Army may consolidate and centralize records about personal guns owned by military personnel and their families.
The Attorney General may not create a registry from the records of “a person with a valid, current license under this chapter.” In other words, the AG may not harvest the records of persons who currently hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Thus, pursuant to inclusio unius, the AG may centralize and consolidate the records of FFLs who have retired from their business.