Gun Laws & Legislation

KORWIN: The Manchin-Toomey Gun Myth

Alan Korwin Contributor
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It’s one thing for progressives to push us backwards by introducing laws that are magical mystery tours of gun fantasy, proposing solutions to nonexistent problems, irrationally hoping they can quell their own internal fears. Make-believe gun-free zones, invisible x-ray-proof guns, “dum-dum” bullets that are actually safe hollow ammo police insist upon (because it’s safer). I’ll get to those, be patient.

We need to start first with the Manchin-Toomey gun-control bill Congress wisely turned down. Obama praised it (and scolded Congress) during his Jan. 7 town hall gun-control show.

It was sold as a simple, common sense, reasonable background check bill everyone could agree upon. And now—with a 90% approval rating!—the president tried selling it again. Manchin-Toomey is a check, plus a ban on gun registration. That’s a myth. Look behind the curtain.

When you find out how our laws work, you learn to your surprise that the names of the sections aren’t law, have no effect on the law, don’t count for anything really, they’re just names. This let’s people making laws call them anything, to help get them passed, even if the names are deceitful. It’s done all the time:

When the FBI wanted to tap everyone’s phone from a single convenient location, they introduced it as the Telephony Privacy Improvement Act. Seriously. It was defeated. But later passed and signed by Bill Clinton.

Gun registration by the feds is a really bad thing, which I won’t delve into now (briefly, how does writing my name on a list help stop crime? It doesn’t, and you can’t list criminals because they have 5th Amendment rights against it. It’s complicated.

The Manchin-Toomey bill claims to ban the creation of a nation firearms registry, so this is a selling point. But you have to be careful with the bottom-feeding maggots who draft these things and pitch them to you, and I don’t say that lightly. The part of the bill that CREATES a national registry of guns and gun owners in the Manchin-Toomey bill is entitled: “(c) PROHIBITION OF NATIONAL GUN REGISTRY.” Seriously.

In an artful use of language and strategic omissions, this section of law empowers government to create a national gun registry. It stops nothing. Remember—the title is not law and counts for nothing. It is window dressing used by the drafters for whatever they like. These are the kinds of people we’re dealing with.

Go to this link to find the full language (and wade through it) with the cool background. If enacted, 18 USC §923 would prevent “consolidating or centralizing” one type of record only, which government hasn’t got, by only one person. Getting around that is so easy it is tactfully enabled by the narrow scope. When a bill is written to really prohibit something, expansive language gets used so nothing escapes.

This bill should say no agency in any branch of government, nor any contractor or employee working in any capacity with the government, nor any foreign government or agency may establish a gun registry. Instead, it says the Attorney General may not. It doesn’t ban the Justice Dept., the FBI, the ATF. Officials will argue that by implication the AG includes anyone. Until it passes—when no such limit will be found, and “Attorney General” excludes her staff, obviously.

Nothing in the language even hints at preventing officials from recording, storing, collating, compiling, distributing, securing, retrieving, integrating, merging, using or backing up records forever, just no consolidating or centralizing. There’s no audit trail and no penalty for failing to comply.

The kicker: Manchin-Toomey requires you to get a background check for a private sale at a gun show, but it doesn’t require anybody to give you one. Doing a background check on someone you’re not selling a gun to is actually prohibited—a separate federal crime. Use of NICS is reserved to FFLs for prospective sales. You can’t look up your daughter’s boyfriend, or anything else, on pain of prison, fines and loss of license. Sloppy drafting? No—they’re asking us to accept myths.


Alan Korwin is the author of 14 books, 10 of them on gun law. His book After You Shoot examines ways to lower your risks after a self-defense shooting. Reach him at, where he is the publisher of Bloomfield Press. They just got in the 2016 Travelers Guide to the Gun Laws of the 50 States.