Licensing And Registration Doesn't Change Due To Technology

While I’m not really an early adopter of technology, I’m still fond of it. I’m constantly amazed how just how things have changed in my life. I couldn’t imagine how awful a lockdown would have been in my childhood. As annoying as it was in 2020, at least we had the internet, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Zoom, and a plethora of other products that simply didn’t exist when I graduated high school.

Yet let’s be honest, technology doesn’t really change a thing. Whether watching a show on television or on a streaming service doesn’t change the nature of that program. On that same token, though, new technology doesn’t change gun registration.

Having tried and failed to impose a national firearm licensing and registration scheme on an unwilling American public for more than half a century, gun control advocates have spruced up the policy for the 21st century. In a paper titled “A Decentralized and Encrypted National Gun Registry,” a group of Brown University researchers working with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) advanced a gun licensing and registration scheme where cryptography would purportedly protect gun owners’ data from criminal and government overreach. In fact, the proposal failed to address the primary reasons gun owners oppose firearm licensing and registration – something the researchers come close to admitting in the course of their paper.

Firearm policy has received a significant amount of attention in recent years. With that attention has come interest from an array of professional and academic fields. Individuals from far flung disciplines have attempted to wade into the gun policy debate with little depth of knowledge about the legal, political, practical, and cultural factors attendant to the issue.

Gun owners oppose firearm licensing and registration for a number of reasons. Licensing and registration measures are an infringement upon the Second Amendment right. Such measures are cumbersome, and thus burden and discourage gun ownership and use. The data could be used by criminals to target gun owners for property crime. Firearm registration is ineffective, as proven by Canada’s experiment with the long-gun registry. A RAND corporation survey of the available research on gun registration stated that the researchers “found no qualifying studies showing that firearm sales reporting, recording, and registration requirements decreased” violent crime, mass shootings, or suicide.

However, the overriding reason that gun owners oppose firearm registration is that they know for certain that government will abuse any such registry.

Precisely.

See, encrypting data is only useful if the people you’re concerned about accessing that data doesn’t have the key. For any registration scheme to be useful to the government–the primary reason it’s proposed is so the government can use that data, after all–the government must have some level of access.

Encrypting the data may help prevent unauthorized access to that data, which is certainly one concern, but it doesn’t shield anyone from a government that decides it’s now time to take the guns away, which is likely what any gun registration scheme will boil down to.

As noted above, they don’t stop violent crime, mass shootings, or suicide.

What they do, though, is allow politicians to appear like they’re making a tough stand against these things, which is really what any of this is all about. It’s about appearing tough without having to actually do anything to address the problem. After all, if you address the real problem, you won’t get a continuing crisis to use for your own purposes.

Technology won’t change any of that. All it will do is muddy the waters just a bit and pretend that they’re taking our concerns seriously, all without really understanding those concerns in the first place.

No, technologically-advanced licensing and registration don’t somehow make it more palatable and it never will.

 

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