By James W. Porter II, President NRA
The long, sordid history of “gun control” tells us that losses of our rights have come a step at a time, always with assurances—lies—from the gun-ban crowd that law-abiding gun owners have nothing more to fear.
Today, in long-ago free states like New York, Connecticut, Maryland and California, peaceable citizens are in grave danger of being transformed into criminals for failing to waive the exercise of their right to keep and bear arms.
Take Connecticut. On the tide of horror and grief over the cold-blooded murders of schoolchildren and teachers in Newtown by a deranged killer in December 2012, the legislature trashed rules to enact a confiscatory ban on a long list of firearms deemed “assault weapons” and on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
Under a “grandfather clause,” citizens who could prove they owned such items of personal property before April 4, 2013, when the ban became law, were given until Jan. 1, 2014, to register their firearms and ammunition-feeding devices or face criminal prosecution and loss of their property. Any banned firearm or magazine obtained after April 4, 2013, was made contraband and could not be registered, and owners were liable to face severe punishment.
The day before the deadline, the state warned, “If you get caught with a banned assault weapon after tomorrow night then you’re going to be prosecuted as a felon. …” Add unregistered “high-cap” magazines to that threat.
In Connecticut, formerly law-abiding, but still-peaceable gun owners have little trust in promises that registering their “grandfathered” personal property would be the end of demands on their liberty.
We hear a lot nowadays about redistribution of wealth. But in those corners of the nation—like Connecticut—where our Second Amendment liberty is in gravest danger, the gun-ban crowd is forcing “redistribution of guilt” on good and decent citizens who have done no wrong.
For those who believe that confiscation of their registered property is the next and final step, free Americans can look to Australia and Great Britain where virtually all of those nations’ duly licensed gun owners were disarmed of registered firearms to pay the price for the acts of lone madmen. Registration led to confiscation. Period. It always will.
But Americans don’t have to look far to see tyranny.
While honest Connecticut citizens stood in long registration lines, licensed owners of registered long guns in New York City were receiving letters that began:
“It appears you are in possession of a Rifle and/or shotgun [listed below] that has an ammunition feeding device capable of holding more than [five] rounds of ammunition. Rifles and Shotguns capable of holding more than five  rounds of ammunition are unlawful to possess. …
“Immediately surrender your rifle and/or shotgun to your local police precinct, and notify this office of the invoice number. …”
In addition to forfeiting their property to police for destruction, licensed New York City gun owners were offered two other choices: permanently remove their guns to a location outside the city with proof or have their guns permanently altered by a city-approved gunsmith.
None of these registered firearms—all previously acceptable to New York City as “sporting,” including many .22s—nor their licensed owners ever had anything to do with violent crime.
In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court—in Haynes v. U.S.—declared that convicted felons can neither be forced to register their guns nor be prosecuted for failing to register, because to do so would violate their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Registration is only about you and me.
Consider this from a Dec. 28, 2013, New York Times editorial headlined “When the Mentally Ill Own Guns:”
“The common denominator in gun violence, however, is not deranged individuals; it is the easy access to assault rifles and other high-powered weapons afforded all Americans.” (emphasis added)
“… afforded all Americans?” That’s our freedom. That says it all. But the editorial goes on, “A few determined states are attempting to deal with this issue, but real solutions must involve federal legislation and national standards. …”
That gets us to President Obama and “universal background checks,” which amounts to gun owner registration. Remember Obama snidely saying, “I am not going to take your guns away.”
Immediately after the Connecticut legislature acted, Obama telegraphed his real agenda saying, “Connecticut has shown the way and now is the time for Congress to do the same.”
NRA, through court action, is doing all in our power to bring down the tyrannical laws in venues like New York and Connecticut. But to cancel out President Obama’s threat to spread a confiscatory ban, it is especially important to elect a pro-Second Amendment majority in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
James W. Porter II is the President of the National Rifle Association. His column appears in America’s 1st Freedom, American Rifleman and American Hunter. Join the NRA and receive a $10 discount on your annual membership.