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NYT Opinion: Register All Guns, License All Gun Owners


On February 24 New York Times op-ed contributors Abner Mikva and Lawrence Rosenthal argued that it is time to register all guns and license all gun owners; background checks are not enough.

Moreover, the authors suggested such licensing and registration would not violate the Second Amendment.


According to the NYT op-ed, background checks are not sufficient, there are too many ways to go around them. “A more effective system would require everyone who owns or acquires a gun to register it.” And a second component to this “effective system” would be a licensing requirement for all persons who wish to register guns.

The licensing requirement would allegedly force every would-be gun owner to prove he or she could “use a gun responsibly.” It would be like a background check that tries to guess the future.

The result:

Registration records could create a comprehensive database of all guns and their owners. During a criminal investigation, when a gun was recovered from a person who was not its registered owner, that person would face serious penalties. But so, too, would the registered owner if he had failed to report that the weapon was no longer in his possession.

Mikva and Rosenthal do not explain how much time the licensed gun owner of a registered gun would have to report it missing before being liable for its misuse by unauthorized persons. They simply make clear that punishing the “registered owner” would be an outgrowth of licensing and registration.

The NYT op-ed then moves on to bigger and better things, suggesting that licensing and registration could blaze a trail for “recording the unique characteristics of a firearm’s barrel” and/or “stamping ammunition with identifiers.” These ideas–commonly referred to as micro-stamping or ballistic fingerprinting–are easily defeated by criminals and do not help solve crimes. In November 2015, Breitbart News reported that Maryland ended its ballistic-finger printing program after 15 years, $5 million, and no crimes solved.

But registration, a licensing requirement, and ballistic fingerprinting would certainly do one thing; namely, drive up the prices of gun ownership, thereby depriving more and more poorer families of the ability to exercise their right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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