Gun-Related Ruling Seen as Step Toward Confiscations

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - An appeals court ruling allowing federal agents to maintain the records of legal gun buyers for six months not only violates Brady Act tenets, an NRA spokeswoman said, but lays the groundwork for government confiscations of weapons.

A member from the Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence called that claim a "scare tactic," however, and said the Justice Department's request for more time to perform background checks was entirely understandable. That request was upheld in federal court Tuesday in a 2-1 vote that defeated a National Rifle Association of America appeal.

"This isn't a huge issue for us," Coalition spokesman Desmond Riley said, "but we support anything that makes background checks more efficient. The Justice Department has said they need to hold these records for six months to do various checks, and we support that claim.

"I don't even know what they do with it for six months. They said that they need to ensure something with the records system," Riley continued, "and we support that."

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did not return a telephone call from seeking clarification.

Spokeswoman Kelly Whitley of the NRA said the ruling could be construed as a major step toward realizing such government interference with gun ownership rights as seen previously in England, in Australia, and currently in Canada.

"If you look at the Brady laws and the national instant checking system, (the FBI checks) were designed so that any information, if you pass the instant checks, would be destroyed. They said they wouldn't have a registry, but the six-month allowance creates one.

"We view this as an illegal national registry of gun owners," Whitley continued. "That means the government has a list of every law-abiding gun owner ... (which) could someday lead to the government knocking on your door and confiscating your weapon."

A similar fate to Tuesday's ruling was handed as well to gun owners in England and Australia, she said, after strict laws were imposed in the hopes of lowering violent crime rates. The laws, however, did little to diminish violence and gun-related crimes, according to an NRA fact sheet.

The NRA document dealing with Australia portrays the continent's declining "firearm-related death" and "firearm-related homicide" rates for the years 1980 to 1995, a period in which gun purchases reportedly could be made with little government interference.

"Despite this real progress over a decade and a half," the fact sheet outlined, "the demented acts of a lone gunman ... were used to launch a massive campaign against law-abiding Australian gun owners."

The government passed more stringent gun control laws during that time frame, the fact sheet stated, that led to increases in 1997 and 1998 in armed robberies, assaults, and all violent crimes except murder.

A similar situation occurred in England in 1903, the NRA said, after Parliamentary officials approved legislation prohibiting the sales of guns unless the potential purchasers first obtained licenses.

"Within a few years ... (those) who wanted to own handguns and rifles had to prove they had good reason for receiving a police permit," the England fact sheet documented, giving the government opportunity to decide and control who would be allowed to make purchases.

Whitley said NRA attorneys are considering "further appellate review," but she could not say when that decision would be made.