As the “Land of Lincoln” grapples with the implications of a new gun control law, its citizens have spoken loudly and clearly: they are not in favor of overreaching gun regulations. With over 2.4 million registered gun owners, a paltry 0.1% have acquiesced to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s recent mandate requiring the registration of semi-automatic firearms. The tepid response from Illinois gun owners could be a bellwether for the Biden administration’s broader ambitions of universal gun registration.
Pritzker’s controversial Protect Illinois Communities Act was signed with the intention of curtailing the use of semi-automatic firearms, often mischaracterized as “weapons of war” by gun control proponents. Yet, despite the media’s frequent focus on these firearms, the majority of gun-related crimes in the U.S. involve handguns, not semi-automatic rifles. This selective targeting under the Act is further complicated by the January 1, 2024, registration deadline for those in possession of the now-prohibited guns. With each passing week, compliance wanes, highlighting a profound mistrust or disdain for the legislation.
President Biden’s administration, taking things a step further, is angling for a universal gun registration policy. Unlike the Illinois law, which focuses on a subset of firearms, Biden’s plan seeks to catalog all firearms in the hands of American citizens. This sweeping proposal, while presented under the banner of “public safety,” has roused concerns among gun rights advocates and constitutional scholars.
The dangers of universal registration are manifold. Centralizing a database of all gun owners could easily pave the way for potential confiscation, infringing upon Second Amendment rights. History provides countless examples where registration became the precursor to disarmament. Furthermore, the efficacy of such a system in genuinely curbing gun violence remains debatable, as criminals are unlikely to voluntarily register firearms. Instead, law-abiding citizens might feel deterred from their Second Amendment rights, potentially leaving them defenseless.
Illinois’ reluctance to embrace Pritzker’s semi-auto registration directive might just be the tip of the iceberg. If Biden and his administration push forward with their universal gun registration ambitions, they could encounter resistance on a national scale, echoing the sentiments currently reverberating through Illinois.
The core values enshrined in the Second Amendment stand as pillars of American freedom. Attempts to undermine or sidestep these values, whether at the state or federal level, are not just challenges to gun rights but to the fabric of American liberty. As the debate around gun control intensifies, policymakers would do well to remember the foundational principles upon which this nation was built.