Days after it appeared that a proposed expansion of the background check had hit a major speed bump in Olympia, a similar proposal before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has also run into trouble as Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has refused to make a deal on the measure because it contains a record-keeping provision.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, had agreed to negotiate with state lawmakers over so-called “universal background check” legislation, but his conditions included no record-keeping, and more importantly, the state pistol registry would have to be abolished.
In “the other Washington,” Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Judiciary Committee is considering bills that also would ban so-called “assault weapons” and magazines that hold more than ten cartridges, and crack down on gun trafficking and straw purchases, which are already crimes.
Coburn cannot support the legislation as currently written, pushed by anti-gun Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) that has a record-keeping requirement for private transactions.
This new development on Capitol Hill underscores what has happened in Olympia. Gottlieb, who was both praised and vilified by various gun rights activists for even agreeing to talk about background check legislation, draws the line at record keeping. It’s a de facto registration scheme that would also apply to rifles and shotguns. His desire to abolish the state pistol registry became a sticking point with a law enforcement lobbying group.
The parallels between what is happening in both Washingtons on background check proposals is revealing. This is not so much about the stubbornness of pro-gunners Gottlieb and Coburn, but the insistence by anti-gunners that some form of record-keeping be maintained to essentially identify who has a firearm.
Gun rights activists maintain that it is nobody’s business, and certainly no business of the government, whether someone owns a firearm, unless and until that individual commits a crime with that gun. Gun prohibitionists seem to believe that any gun owner is a potential criminal, so it is their right to know who has a gun, or a concealed pistol license, and that the government must have the authority to strictly regulate guns and gun owners. Pro-gunners contend this relegates the exercise of a constitutionally-protected civil right to the level of a heavily-regulated privilege.
According to Yahoo News, Leahy’s gun trafficking legislation has the best chance of passing a Senate floor vote, while the proposed ban on so-called “assault weapons,” sponsored by anti-gun Sen. Dianne Feinstein, probably will fail.
The important question about these record-keeping mandates is “Why?” What purpose would be served for private citizens to be required to maintain a record about a firearm, or firearms, they sell or give away? Gun owners are wary.