One fellow inherited a deer rifle from his wife's deceased uncle. The uncle had bought the gun legally in a store in Mississippi, and later moved to another state. When he passed, the gun ended up with his niece's husband.
On a recent deer hunting trip to Texas, the fellow worried himself sick because his father was driving too fast, they were sure to be stopped and he had this unregistered deer rifle that had been brought in from another state. He was certain he would be arrested.
Another gentleman was asking how to set up a blackpowder shooting match as a fundraiser for the local fire department. And he wanted to be sure to get the local sheriff's office involved to be able to check and make sure all the guns used in the contest were properly registered.
In every case, these honest, law-abiding citizens, most of whom had legally received a firearm from an individual or were preparing to purchase one from another individual, were asking either how to go about registering their firearm or change the registration in their own names.
What frightened me most about these questions was the absolute naivete of these people - their acceptance of a supposed condition that should be abhorrent to them.
But all too many people today, in spite of the gun confiscations of the citizenry of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Heller case to overthrow the restrictive gun ownership laws of Washington D.C., still do not understand the dangers of gun registration.
And this means we as members of the gun culture are doing a poor job of educating our fellow citizens to the threat to personal liberty that will occur if we ever see some form of national gun registration.
I think many people are confused on the laws, and many of these are gun owners. One of the actions that muddies the water, and make many people believe we actually have gun registration is the FBI NICS check.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System ("NICS") is a background check that must be performed by any Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) when he sells a gun to an individual.
When a person goes to a store to buy a gun, he (or she) must fill out a standard federal firearms purchase Form 4473, which asks some cursory background questions. The dealer then calls the NICS number and reads the individual information to an FBI computer geek.
A quick background check of the individual purchaser is run to determine if he/she has outstanding warrants or has been convicted of a felony or other criminal activity.
Normally this action takes only a few seconds, and the NICS checker gives the retailer the go-ahead to proceed with the sale.
If the information on the individual is not instantly available, or if there is a computer problem, the retailer is instructed to hold the sale. The customer will then be told to return in three days. If the NICS system has not contacted the retailer in that time, the retailer may at his discretion sell the gun to the individual.
Here's the beautiful part. Once the NICS system has given the go-ahead to allow the sale to proceed, all pertinent information on the purchaser must be eradicated from the system within 24 hours. The FBI has been mandated by Congress and federal law not to use this information to build a firearms owner data base.
The Form 4473 that is filled out by the purchaser stays in the possession of the gun dealer. It is not transmitted to the federal government in any way, although Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) compliance agents make periodic checks of gun retailers to ensure they are keeping proper records.
But because of these forms, and the checking through NICS, many people assume some form of gun registration is in place. That they are not offended by this presumption absolutely frightens me.
Another important thing to remember is there is no need to register a gun or conduct an NICS check on sales or transfers of guns between individuals. One of the questions I received less than a month ago was how one person could transfer the registration of a handgun from the guy selling to the guy buying. I actually fielded this question twice in one week.
There is no registration of guns sold or given by one individual to another in most states. It would behoove you to get a bill of sale describing the gun, its serial number and the name of the person you are buying it from. This will forego any problems if the gun should turn up as stolen. You can then show you made an honest purchase, or received the gun as a gift, and direct the law-enforcement personnel to the person from which you received the gun.
So please, please spread the word. There is no need for official background investigations in gun transfers between private individuals. And the background checks through licensed dealers are exactly that - cursory background checks - and the information must be destroyed in 24 hours if the sale is allowed to proceed.
And while you are educating your friends, tell them why they should be afraid of something they seem so readily able to accept - that registration leads to confiscation - and it is our guns that keep us free.
The Second Amendment was not, and was never intended to be, a protection of hunting rights or the right to keep a gun for fun. As stated on the dedication page of The Great New Orleans Gun Grab, the Second Amendment was designed by the founding fathers to give the people a way to protect themselves from the founding fathers.Gordon Hutchinson's newest book, written with Todd Masson, is The Great New Orleans Gun Grab. A searing expose' of the scandal of gun confiscations in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it is available online at www.neworleansgungrab.com
Hutchinson's first book, The Quest and the Quarry, is a celebration of Southern deer hunting. It's a generational tale that parallels the lives of a line of trophy bucks and the youth of a farming family that hunts them. It is available at www.thequestandthequarry.com.
Both books were chosen as Books of the Year by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. Both are available by calling the publisher at (800) 538-4355.
Visit Hutchinson's new blog on guns and the shooting sports at www.lashootist.blogspot.com, or www.theshootist.net.