The State of Connecticut is trying to make its citizens who own modern sporting rifles on the AR-15 platform (the gun liberals love to hate and call an “assault rifle’) register them. This appeared today in Glenn Reynolds column in USA Today, Americans Rising Up Against Government:
Meanwhile, in Connecticut a massive new gun-registration scheme is also facing civil disobedience. As J.D. Tuccille reports: “Three years ago, the Connecticut legislature estimated there were 372,000 rifles in the state of the sort that might be classified as ‘assault weapons,’ and 2 million plus high-capacity magazines. … But by the close of registration at the end of 2013, state officials received around 50,000 applications for ‘assault weapon’ registrations, and 38,000 applications for magazines.
Is Connecticut’s gun registration scheme Constitutional? Does a law abiding citizen have to register with the government to exercise their natural rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution? First, it should be acknowledged that rights, even natural rights, are always subject to the proviso that one who exercises their rights must to do without harming others. One must generally be law abiding to exercise the right to keep and bear arms, no argument there.
I think law abiding citizens have the right to refuse to register guns because the registration requirement violates the 2nd Amendment. I believe it also violates citizens’ right to substantive due process. A government violates substantive due process when it enacts a law that is arbitrary and capricious, i.e., a law that serves no justifiable purpose and is passed simply because politicians wanted to do it. Government must justify its intrusions on our liberty. A gun registration list has no law enforcement or public safety purpose. It is useful only to make future violations of our constitutional rights easier and more convenient for government officials.
That’s for law abiding citizens, and there can be reasonable arguments to the contrary, but I still don’t think those arguments carry the day in the current Second Amendment jurisprudence. There is one group, however, for which we know with certainty that Connecticut’s registration scheme is definitely unconstitutional because the U.S. Supreme Court has already said so. In Haynes v. United States, 390 U.S. 83 (1968), the Supreme Court ruled that requiring criminals to register their guns violates their 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
So criminals are exempt from Connecticut’s registration law. Only the good guys must comply. This makes sense to the liberals in the Connecticut legislature.