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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Firearm Registration: It's No Megan's Law

I'm going to make a couple of uncomfortable - but apparently necessary - comparisons.

In today's announcement in regards to gun control, President Obama made it clear that one of his main goals is to tighten regulations concerning firearm registration and the requirements individuals must meet in order to obtain said registrations. As part of tightening those regulations, the President has issued executive orders allowing doctors to circumvent HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). This means that your personal health information - information that doctors *used to be* legally bound to keep private - can now be divulged to the clerk at your local sporting goods store simply because you have chosen to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights.

Something doesn't seem quite right about that, am I right?

What about the idea of law-abiding citizens being forced to obtain permits and register legal weapons in the first place? 

(Here's where the uncomfortable comparisons come in.)

In 2003, a case called Smith v. Doe came before the Supreme Court. Two defendants (referred to in this case as John Doe I and John Doe II) claimed that, after being convicted of sexual offenses, being forced to comply with Megan's Law (forcing them to register as sex offenders on state databases) was a violation of the Constitution's ex post facto clause, since Megan's Law was not passed until after their respective convictions.

The court held that because the intent of Megan's Law was not punishment (which would have been precluded by ex post facto) but rather to disseminate information that would increase public safety, it was perfectly legal for the states to force prior offenders to comply.

Why is this relevant? Justices Ginsburg and Breyer dissented, claiming that the registration and reporting provisions of Megan's Law imposed "onerous and intrusive obligations on convicted sex offenders, and exposed them to humiliation and ostracism."

How is forcing a citizen to place his name on a list, expose himself to possibly being outed by a public media outlet, and allowing any sporting goods salesman to access his private medical records any less of an "onerous and intrusive obligation"? Not to mention the fact that in this case, the "onerous and intrusive burden" is laid upon someone who is attempting to follow the law rather than one who has proven he has no regard for doing so.

To take it one step further: how is enforced individual firearm registration any different than Nazi Germany forcing all Jews to wear the Star of David? In both cases, the government is setting a particular group of law-abiding citizens apart - labeling them - so that at the opportune time they can be more easily singled out.

Also, I'm thoroughly enjoying the irony that both Ginsburg and Breyer in particular find it onerous and burdensome for convicted sex offenders to be forced to register their names and locations but not for every citizen to be forced to buy health insurance. But that's another matter entirely.

Another kick in the pants, in regards to irony: the state of Kansas has repeatedly refused to release the medical records of underage children who have had abortions (and remember, a pregnancy in a child under the age of consent is a fair indicator that a crime has taken place) for purposes of prosecuting the perpetrators of incest and statutory rape - but the guy at the hobby store can have your medical history if you decide you want to own a gun...


  1. This kid has an answer to the pedophile issue:

  2. Megan's Law (forcing them to register guild wars 2 gold as sex offenders on state databases) was a violation of the Constitution's ex post facto clause, since Megan's Law was not passed until after their dark fall wars gold respective convictions