National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre baselessly warned that proponents of stronger gun laws could implement a firearm “confiscation scheme” in his latest unhinged column for The Daily Caller.
Despite LaPierre's warnings of a draconian gun registration and confiscation scheme that he wrote “could happen to us if we fail to stand and fight,” the plot LaPierre described is illegal under current federal law, has not been proposed by the supporters of stronger gun laws LaPierre singled out in his column, and would likely violate the United States Constitution.
LaPierre's column was published on August 19, the day before BuzzFeed reported that the NRA itself uses a variety of data collection methods to gather information on gun owners. In an article that described myriad ways the NRA collects data on gun owners, BuzzFeed contributor Steve Friess noted the tension between the NRA's warnings about government gun owner databases and the gun rights organization's own actions:
The National Rifle Association has rallied gun owners -- and raised tens of millions of dollars -- campaigning against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners.
But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself. The country's largest privately held database of current, former, and prospective gun owners is one of the powerful lobby's secret weapons, expanding its influence well beyond its estimated 3 million members and bolstering its political supremacy.
That database has been built through years of acquiring gun permit registration lists from state and county offices, gathering names of new owners from the thousands of gun-safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors and by buying lists of attendees of gun shows, subscribers to gun magazines, and more, BuzzFeed has learned.
LaPierre's Daily Caller column is demonstrative of the outlandish gun registration and confiscation plots the NRA warns of while apparently simultaneously collecting information on gun owners for its own purposes.
After identifying “New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his cabal of machine politicians, and the likes of anti-gun U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein” as the culprits, LaPierre suggested that these politicians seek to implement a “confiscation scheme -- 'universal gun owner licensing and registration'” where “Acquisition, transfer or continued ownership of firearms could depend on the whim of federal bureaucrats -- just like the IRS operation -- in analyzing questionnaires that gun owners would be required by law to answer.”
According to LaPierre, gun owners could be forced to satisfy government bureaucrats with answers to a series of questions in order to buy or continue owning a gun and also provide the government with the serial numbers of any guns owned:
Topmost on pages and pages of questions you would be required to answer to own a gun would be a long list detailing your personal history including “the purpose for owning firearms subject to this form.”
"Do you belong to the NRA or a similar organization? How long? What standing?
"Do members of your immediate family approve of this purchase?
"Do you belong to a gun club or shooting club? If so, list the club's officers.
"Have you ever written Congress opposing 'commonsense gun safety'? If so, provide copies of all correspondence and emails.
"Do you believe the Second Amendment protects a guaranteed right?
“List all other firearms you own, making sure to include serial number, make and model of each and how these firearms are stored in your home.”
So, you take the forms home, fill them out, take them back to the firearm licensing officer and you are told that you will be notified of the results sometime in the future.
If federal “czars” decide your answers are not sufficient, they will ask for clarification, or decide your answers are not truthful and opt to prosecute you for perjury.
There is no set deadline for the government to act, so you wait for approval that may never come. [emphasis original]
Despite LaPierre's warning that his scenario “could happen to us if we fail to stand and fight,” such a system would be illegal under current federal law and likely unconstitutional.
The Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986 provides that it is illegal for the federal government to create a database of gun owners. In order to enforce this provision, the federal government destroys within 24 hours information it collects about gun owners in order to perform background checks. Despite the NRA's misinformation, a failed Senate proposal to expand background checks would not have changed how the federal government handles and disposes of gun owner information.
The scenario LaPierre describes, where membership in the NRA could serve as grounds to deny gun ownership, would also almost certainly be unconstitutional under the 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, which guarantees the right of individuals -- who are not subject to “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms” -- to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense.
While facts have not deterred the NRA from its numerous conspiracies about supposed gun registration and confiscation plots undertaken by the federal government, it is the gun rights organization itself that possesses the most comprehensive information about gun owners in the United States.