One of the inevitable results of a massively crowded Presidential candidate field is the proclamation of audacious and outrageous policy positions, as hopefuls compete for attention and to differentiate themselves from each other. The latest in-your-face, “bold” idea comes from Cory Booker, who has put forth a 14 point plan to combat gun violence.

Or, more accurately, to make a great big show of combating gun violence by imposing massive infringements on the rights of the law-abiding. His plan includes universal licensing, universal background checks (and the inevitable universal registration), including on private sales, bans on “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines, limits on frequency of purchases, measures against gun manufacturers, removals of privacy and fourth-amendment protections from citizens, dumping a pile of money into the ATF, coax states to pass red-flag laws, sic the IRS on the NRA (and, presumably, other gun advocacy groups), and several other anti-gun-owner measures.

Booker’s plan, from my reading, would require current owners to turn in their “assault weapons,” but doesn’t mention the buy-back that fellow Presidential hopeful Eric Swalwell has proposed. But, even if Booker’s plan did involve a buy-back (it might be required due to eminent domain concerns), past experience, in the US and elsewhere, suggests very low compliance. New York and Connecticut enacted registration requirements of assault weapons (not even confiscation, but mere registration), and got compliance rates in the single digits. Australia enacted a buy-back and ban, and got 19% compliance. A non-buy-back turn-in mandate would probably produce even lower compliance.

While it’s impossible to accurately determine how many “assault weapons” there are in America, because the term is both vague and defined differently in different jurisdictions (i.e. a particular rifle might be an “assault weapon” in New York, but not in New Jersey), a safe and low estimate is 15 million modern sporting rifles (MSRs) in America that would probably be banned under Booker’s proposal.

Both history and a look at the gun-rights political landscape tell us, with high probability, that compliance with Booker’s proposal would be very low. So, on his assault weapons ban alone, there’d be many millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans suddenly be made felons.

15 million MSRs represents less than 5% of the four hundred million guns in America. Most of these are unregistered, meaning that the government would have an extremely difficult time trying to determine who has what if citizens didn’t comply with registration mandates. Again, history tell us they won’t, and the number of people added to the felon ranks (hold that thought) beyond the MSR non-compliers would be in the tens of millions.

When asked about non-compliance, Booker suggested that criminal sanctions be imposed after a “reasonable period.” While he didn’t actually say he’d lock the noncompliant up (he’s smart enough to avoid such a red-meat gaffe), he implied enough to raise alarms in the pro-gun community.

In practice, Booker’s proposal, would massively expand federal bureaucracy, would require a massive law-enforcement effort, including millions of SWAT raids, and would throw tens of millions of Americans in jail. Given that our current prison population is 2.3 million, and prisons are already over-crowded, there’d have to be an infrastructure program that would dwarf Trump’s $2 billion monster of a proposal.

The up-side of putting tens of millions of currently law-abiding Americans in prison? Building (and staffing) all those new facilities would employ millions and would help un-burden public housing, since the government could seize the gun owners’ homes. What happens to their families? The government loves seizing assets, as its grotesque behavior in civil asset forfeiture demonstrates, so, tough luck – your daddy or mommy or husband or wife should have complied with the jack-boots.

Venezuelans, suffering under the horrors of socialism and the inevitable thug-dictatorship it produced, are now lamenting their past willingness to give up their guns. Millions of Americans are cognizant of that and the countless other lessons of history that show the perils of registration/confiscation, and won’t comply with Booker’s proposal should it become law. Sadly, millions of other Americans are far too willing to give up liberties for a quixotic delusion about addressing gun crime (many of the same want an open, unregulated Southern border across which tons of drugs (a consumable, rather than durable, product) already flow daily. Booker’s proposal is mere pandering, it stands little chance of becoming law, and even less chance of being “successful” in its goals, but it reflects a dangerous arrogance and an even more dangerous hostility to the rights of American citizens. Merely for proposing this, he should be disqualified from high public office by the voters.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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