Cory Booker’s Dangerous Gun-Control Plan

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
By Paul Martin

NationalReview.com
May 7, 2019

Having thus far failed to break through in the Democratic primary, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey is seeking to gain an edge in the contest by advancing the most extreme package of gun-control proposals to be touted by any presidential aspirant in two decades. In addition to the usual laundry list — “universal” background checks, a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” the prohibition of standard-capacity magazines — Booker hopes to establish not only a federal registry of guns, but a federal registry of gun owners, too. Under the terms of Booker’s plan, Americans wishing to exercise their Second Amendment rights would have to apply to Washington for permission — not just once, but every five years — and to inform the executive branch of each weapon they own in their home. Exit, Spartacus; enter, Big Brother. As Orwell might have said: He who controls the records, controls the people.

As anyone who has watched the Venezuelan government’s recent confiscation drive can attest, registries of guns and of the people who own them are dangerous and illiberal per se, which is one reason that they remain illegal under federal law. It should be spectacularly obvious that a registry of firearms and their owners is, in effect, a giant map that can be used by its keeper to locate who is armed and how, and, thus, to make their disarmament possible. If that sounds alarmist, look no further than to Senator Booker himself, who continues to argue that the government should use the “terror watch list” — that is, the sprawling, error-ridden list of mostly innocent people that the federal government keeps in secret — to disarm “suspicious” Americans who have been accused, charged, or convicted of no crimes whatsoever. Edmund Burke once wrote that Americans were unique among the people of the world in that they did not wait for an “actual grievance” but instead “augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” Once again, that tainted breeze has arrived.

Regardless, it remains the case that guns-and-people registries are useless on their own terms, which is why they have been abandoned in failure almost everywhere they have been tried. Perhaps the best example of such failure comes from Canada, which founded a long-gun registry to great fanfare in 2003 and . . . abolished it just nine years later after it had cost over one thousand times more than was projected and had failed to help solve a single crime. In Canada, in New Zealand, and at various levels within the United States, gun registries have routinely been exposed as expensive, pointless, and, because they divert resources from anti-crime measures that actually work, counterproductive. Nothing about Senator Booker’s plan gives us confidence that it would end differently.

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