The mainstream media is pointing at reports that few Americans own the majority of guns in the nation. Gun grabbers are paying attention– and they’ll soon be talking about new schemes to monitor high volume gun owners.
One of the few things the press and government investigators have been able to tell Americans about Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock is that he was able to buy multiple high caliber rifles within the span of several months without setting off any alarms on background checks.
For the anti-gun left, that presents an opportunity to push regulations that focus less on banning classes of firearms and more on scrutinizing the people purchasing them.
And because gun owners are in the minority in America, it may be easier than you think.
Consider this 2013 analysis from Pew:
There are by various estimates anywhere from 270 million to 310 million guns in the United States — close to one firearm for every man, woman and child. But in point of fact, only a minority of Americans own guns.
Gun ownership is one of the hardest things for researchers to pin down… A Pew Research Center survey conducted in February found that 37% of households had an adult who owned a gun — 24% said they owned a gun, and 13% said someone else in their household did.
The UK’s Guardian similarly noted last year: “Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every American adult, according to the most definitive portrait of US gun ownership in two decades. But the new survey estimates that 133m of these guns are concentrated in the hands of just 3% of American adults – a group of super-owners who have amassed an average of 17 guns each.”
That means anti-gun factions are likely to begin arguing that American policymakers need to learn more about the small percentage of Americans who own the highest number of firearms. And with that will come calls for new reporting requirements for those who purchase more than a certain number of firearms or what regulators deem high volumes of ammunition.
If that sounds unlikely, consider that many states already have laws on the books aimed at tracking individuals’ firearm purchasing habits. In both Maryland and California, laws exist prohibiting residents from purchasing more than one handgun or (in Maryland) “assault weapon” within any 30-day period. And New Jersey law prohibits FFL dealers to transfer more than one handgun to an individual within any 30 day period under most circumstances.
Along the nation’s southern border, meanwhile, gun trafficking schemes involving cartels also create special requirements for multi-firearm purchases.
As explained by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:
[B]ecause long guns have become Mexican cartels’ “weapons of choice,” in 2011 ATF began requiring FFLs in four states along the Mexican border (Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas) to report multiple sales of certain semiautomatic rifles. More specifically, the reporting requirement applies to semiautomatic rifles with a caliber greater than .22 and the ability to accept a detachable magazine. FFLs who are dealers or pawnbrokers must report to ATF whenever they sell or transfer two or more such weapons to the same person at one time or during any five consecutive business days.
The federal reporting requirements have helped ATF combat gun trafficking. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “multiple sales reports provide ATF with timely, actionable leads that can enable it to more quickly identify suspected firearms traffickers and disrupt their operations.” During the first eight months after the long gun reporting requirement went into effect for four states bordering Mexico, ATF used those reports to initiate 120 investigations and recommended prosecution of more than 100 defendants in 25 separate cases.
Be sure that a national version of this scheme is currently in the works. But that won’t be the end. If enacted, new purchase reporting schemes will be the first stop on the way to a national firearm registry.
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