The gun-control debate is making strange bedfellows. The Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association, and American Civil Liberties Union are all raising concerns about language contained in Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s gun legislation could allow for the creation of a national firearms registry.
The Reid bill requires individuals to use licensed importers, dealers, or manufacturers to sell or transfer firearms, and mandates that “a record of transaction of any transfer that occurred between an unlicensed transferor and an unlicensed transferee” be kept. It does not, however, explain what sort of record should be kept or who must create and keep the records. Reid’s legislation does not include a prohibition on the creation of a national gun registry, which was included in 1993′s Brady Bill (specifically, regarding the National Instant Criminal Background Check System).
At the Heritage Foundation, David Addington, former chief of staff and legal counsel to vice president Dick Cheney, warns that “the loose language could be construed to allow the Department of Justice itself (or another agency specified by the Attorney General) to keep centralized records of who received what guns and where, by sale or gift from one individual to another.” The NRA’s director of public affairs, Andrew Arulanandam, tells National Review Online, “David is absolutely right.”
Meanwhile, citing the same record-keeping requirement, the American Civil Liberties Union is also warning about a gun registry. “Unfortunately, we have seen in the past that the creation of these types of records leads sometimes to the creation of government databases and collections of personal information on all of us,” a lobbyist for the organization, Chris Calabrese, told The Daily Caller. ”We think that the kind of record keeping requirement could result in keeping long-term detailed records of purchases and [the] creation of a new government database.”