The Senate failed to achieve cloture (54-46) on the gun grabbing, magazine banning, civil rights reduction bill known as the gun bill, of which the Toomey-Manchin amendment to expand intrusive background checks and provide the basis for a national gun registry was the last man standing, with defectors from both sides of the party divide. Preznit No-Drama Obama reacted angrily, speaking from atop a (metaphorical) pile of dead children and wounded women:
“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Mr. Obama said in the White House rose garden about 90 minutes after the vote. “It came down to politics.”Five democrats, mostly from rural western states voted against cloture, and four republicans, McCain, Kirk, Toomey and Collins voted for it.
As he spoke, Mr. Obama was surrounded by family members of victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Also with him was former Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona, wounded in an assassination attempt.
Senators voted 54-46 late Wednesday to expand background checks of gun purchases, six votes shy of the 60 needed for passage of the amendment.
“They claimed that it would create some sort of big-brother gun registry, even though it did the opposite,” Mr. Obama said. “This pattern of spreading untruths … served a purpose. A minority in the U.S. Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms, even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery. It’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans just voted against that idea.”Of course, some serious legal minds looked at the proposed legislation and concluded that it pretty much did exactly that, opened the way to a national gun registry:
The limit on creating a registry applies only to the Attorney General (and thus to entities under his direct control, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). By a straightforward application of inclusio unius exclusio alterius it is permissible for entities other than the Attorney General to create gun registries, using whatever information they can acquire from their own operations. For example, the Secretary of HHS may consolidate and centralize whatever firearms records are maintained by any medical or health insurance entity. The Secretary of the Army may consolidate and centralize records about personal guns owned by military personnel and their families.So who's lying now?
The Attorney General may not create a registry from the records of “a person with a valid, current license under this chapter.” In other words, the AG may not harvest the records of persons who currently hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Thus, pursuant to inclusio unius, the AG may centralize and consolidate the records of FFLs who have retired from their business.
Under current law, retired FFLs must send their sales records to BATFE. 18 USC 923(g)(4); 27 CFR 478.127. During the Clinton administration, a program was begun to put these records into a consolidated gun registry. The program was controversial and (as far as we know) was eventually stopped. Manchin-Toomey provides it with legal legitimacy.
The vast majority of FFLs are small businesses, often single proprietorships. Only a tiny fraction of FFLs are enduring corporate entities (e.g., Bass Pro Shops) which will never surrender their FFL. By consolidating and centralizing the records of all out-of-business FFLs, BATFE will be able to build a list of most people in the U.S. who have bought a gun from a store. The list will not be fully up-to-date for every gun owned by every individual, but the list will identify the very large majority of gun owners.