By Alexandria Kincaid, Second Amendment Attorney
Hawaii has become the nation’s leader in creating a national registry of gun owners. Hawaii residents who own firearms will now be reported to a federal criminal record database called “Rap Back,” where they will be monitored for possible wrongdoing anywhere in the country. Ignoring the mandate of “innocent until proven guilty,” FBI reports will be made to Hawaii law enforcement officials upon a gun owner’s arrest for any criminal activity, not a conviction.
While gun owners’ eyes are on Congress, state governments can and will take away our rights. As federal gun control legislation once again fails, a state government has now “acted where Congress has not.” Obama is not the only one who can use this tactic. Watch and be active in your state governments! Some of the worst gun control laws in the country have come from state legislation, not federal. Currently, the courts are not protecting us from it.
If such state reporting to the FBI is allowed by our courts, then states can simply 1) require universal background checks; and 2) report all gun owners in the state to the FBI “Rap Back” list.
This state reporting flies in the face of current federal law that was designed to prevent a national gun owner registry. While the federal Gun Control Act (GCA) requires background checks on anyone who purchases a gun from a dealer, the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) prevents the creation of a national gun owner registry from those records. You can even read this on the FBI’s own website, which recites that “The NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] is not to be used to establish a federal firearm registry.”
Anyone who has bought a gun from a licensed dealer has witnessed the GCA and FOPA in action, because the GCA (with limited exceptions) requires the dealer to contact the FBI to conduct a background check whenever someone purchases a gun. This is why we fill out ATF Form 4473 each and every time we buy a gun from a licensed dealer. That form, however, is not supposed to go to the federal government. Instead, the paperwork (or electronic record) is kept at the gun shop, and in addition, federal law requires the FBI to destroy any record of the background check within 24 hours. Of course, we know that the government still has many records of these transactions (read more about how the government gets these records in my book, Infringed.) Hawaii’s new law circumvents the bit of federal protection for gun owners’ privacy that was included in the FOPA.
History clearly shows us that registration precedes confiscation. As more and more states pass universal background check and gun owner registration laws, these states need only to include a requirement that registered gun owners also be reported to the federal database, and voila, the federal government knows who you are, what guns you have, and where you have them.