Half of Americans Fear That Background Checks Would Lead to a Gun Registry

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 4 2013 9:20 AM

Half of Americans Fear That Background Checks Would Lead to a Gun Registry

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Nerses Karapetyan tests out a gun at the Gun Gallery in Glendale, California in 2007.

Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Aaron Blake makes a great catch from the national Quinnipiac poll.

More than 9 in 10 Americans (91 percent) support the idea of universal background checks for purchasing firearms, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. But nearly half of those polled also said they thought the establishment of such checks would result in the government confiscating guns that had been purchased through legal channels.
Just 38 percent of those polled said background checks wouldn’t lead to such confiscations, compared to 48 percent who said they would.
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So, a national gun registry is illegal. It has been ever since the 1986 passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act. Look over there:

No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary’s authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.

This law regularly kills law enforcement attempts to build a registry of firearms. You could pass a law that changed this and legalized gun registration, but that's not part of the bill. There's just an inchoate fear that background checks will get us there, and while Democrats think they've banished the ghost, they haven't.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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