Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Voter ID Laws

by Gerard Emershaw

Democrats and Republicans are partisanly divided over the issue of voter ID laws. Whether or not a potential voter must present identification in order to vote, and if so, what forms of identification are acceptable, varies from state to state. Thirty states have enacted some form of voter ID law for the alleged purpose of preventing voter fraud.



Some claim that voter ID laws serve to disenfranchise minorities and the poor. President Obama has recently claimed that voter rights are threatened by voter ID laws. According to a study conducted by NYU’s Brennan Center, 11% of voting-age citizens (21 million) lack necessary photo ID. A disproportionate number of these Americans lacking photo ID are low income, racial and ethnic minorities, and the elderly. Many of these people cannot afford the fees associated with obtaining a photo ID. Some Americans—particularly elderly rural blacks—do not have a birth certificate and sometimes lack the means to acquire one in order to be eligible to receive a photo ID.



Those who support voter ID laws do so because they claim voter fraud is a significant danger. However, there is little evidence that voter fraud has been a widespread problem in American elections. For example, a 2007 analysis done by The New York Times found that there were only 120 cases of voter fraud filed in five years by the Department of Justice, and these resulted in only 86 convictions.



One need not be a cynic to view much of this as what it really is. Part of it is clearly a ploy by desperate RINOs to disenfranchise votes that are more likely to go to Democratic rivals. Instead of staying true to conservative principles and seeking to attract non-traditional Republicans to the conservative cause, RINOs simply wish to shrink the voting pool. This will not work for long, and will eventually just lead to the demise of the GOP. If Republicans want to ensure that voter fraud does not occur, why not in addition to voter ID laws, fund and staff programs to ensure that every adult American has an acceptable form of ID? The fact is that many Republicans want to disenfranchise Democratic voters and many want to have the issue to use as red meat to energize its conservative base.



However, Democrats are equally guilty here. Coming up with a national or state-by-state strategy in which citizens lacking a photo ID could be aided financially and logistically to obtain one would not be particularly difficult or costly. The federal government and the state governments clearly waste taxpayer money on nonsense, so certainly some bored and lazy government workers and the necessary funds could be found to make this a reality. The truth is that the Democrats do not want those without photo ID to be empowered. They want these people to be dependent upon the government in general and upon the Democratic Party in particular. The Democrats want to have the race card to play as red meat for their base. The best way to prevent alleged racists from disenfranchising poor minority voters without photo IDs would be to help these voters get photo IDs. Yet, year after year, this does not happen.



Even if cases of voter ID prosecuted are rare, this does not mean that voter fraud is not a problem. Even if no cases are ever prosecuted, this does not mean that voter fraud does not occur. Even the possibility of voter fraud is unacceptable if it can be prevented. Democracy does not mean merely that periodically there is an election and people vote. Many nations have elections, but many of these nations are not even close to being true democratic republics. Consider Afghanistan and Iraq. Between candidates and parties being barred from running, crooked criminals and American puppets running, violence intimidating voters, and fraudulent practices, neither of these nations is likely to have a truly fair and democratic election anytime soon. American elections need to be kept as clean and fair as possible. There is often only a razor’s edge between a true democratic republic and a banana republic with bogus elections.


While the Constitution does not explicitly guarantee citizens a right to vote, it is obvious that such a right would be covered by the Ninth Amendment. Thus, in an important sense, denying eligible voters the ability to vote due to voter ID laws without ensuring that they can easily obtain the required type of ID is a violation of a natural right. 



This controversy is easily solved. Institute programs within the states to ensure that all American adults have photo IDs. Then institute and enforce voter ID laws. How difficult is this? Instead, despite the fact that there is generally so little relevant difference between the major American political parties, the Republicans and Democrats feel the need to play games and use the issue for propaganda purposes. This is yet another reason why mainstream American politics needs to change.

Monday, April 14, 2014

On Taxation

by Gerard Emershaw
With tax day approaching, it seems a good time to discuss a few various and sundry issues concerning taxation.

The Economic Royalist Mantra

Almost half of all Americans pay no federal income tax! Many so-called conservatives have been lamenting this for years. If Sean Hannity did not have this dead equine to clobber, his show would only be a half hour long instead of an hour. Libertarians tend to believe that taxation is theft. Many go so far as to claim—following those like Ayn Rand—that taxation is akin to slavery. One would think that conservatives would share the view that forcing Americans at the barrel of a gun to pay tribute to the government is a bad thing. So why do so many on the right act like whiny economic royalists? Complaining that 43% of Americans pay no federal income tax is like saying that 43% of Americans are not enslaved. The goal should be to one day say with glee that 0% of Americans pay no federal income tax not to one day say that 100% of Americans pay federal income tax. Complaining about those who pay no federal income tax is a perverse sour grapes view that is like a wrongly imprisoned political dissident complaining that there are like-minded dissidents who are not in prison.

One might say that the problem is that those who do not pay federal income tax have no skin in the game. Therefore, since they do not pay federal income tax, they will be willing to support increases for those who do. Of course, one way to solve this problem would be to increase the size of the economic pie so that there is more prosperity and more wealth. One way to get more people to pay federal income tax is to create a state of affairs where more Americans earn more money, and hence, are legally required to pay federal income tax under the current system.

The whiny economic royalist mantra also ignores that many who do not pay federal income tax nevertheless have income tax withheld during the year which is later refunded. Given that these taxpayers are denied the time value of their money, they do in fact pay a tax. Those Americans who do not even have any income tax withheld still pay the myriad of other taxes imposed by the bloated and out of control federal government. And, of course, all but the wealthiest and best politically connected pay the “inflation tax” that is imposed by the Federal Reserve as it continues to “print” money and destroy the value of the dollar.

Whiny economic royalists help the tyrannical government with its “divide and conquer” strategy. Americans of all races, religions, socio-economic classes, etc. should be united against an increasingly despotic government and not fighting among themselves.

The Flat Tax

Many conservatives and even some libertarians have espoused a flat tax in which all Americans would pay the same amount of federal income tax. Oddly, such advocates of a flat tax often say that it is only fair that everyone pay the same percentage in tax. Such a regressive tax proposal is monstrous and would target the middle class and the poor unfairly. The reason that it would be unfair is that the wealthy simply receive more government services than the poor. Even if the nation followed a non-interventionist policy, it would still be true that defense spending would protect the considerable wealth and assets of the wealthy far more than that of the less affluent. The military simply does not protect the mansion of the homeless man. A corporatist military such as the United States currently has wastes tax money protecting the interests of multi-national corporations. The poor person who does not own considerable stock in Halliburton, an oil company, or the like simply does not benefit from this the way the wealthy do. To make matters even worse, corporate welfare costs taxpayers more than welfare for the needy. This is yet another example of how the government provides more services to the rich than the poor. Hence, the “fair share” of a wealthy individual or corporation should be much higher than that of a less affluent person. Even more egregious than corporate welfare is foreign aid. In 2012, the federal government gave nearly $37 billion in foreign aid. Giving money to rich foreign dictators hardly seems fair.

National Sales Tax

Another suggestion often made is a national sales tax. One problem with such a suggestion is that the federal government is most likely to install a national sales tax without abolishing the income tax. In essence, it will come in for yet another pound of flesh. Even if it were to abolish the income tax in favor of a national sales tax, this would be monstrously regressive. Poor people spend all of their income and then some whereas the wealthy spend only a fraction of their income. Basically, a pure national sales tax would be a massive wealth redistribution program which would employ a reverse Robin Hood strategy of taking from the poor to give to the rich.

A national sales tax would most likely lead to an increased black market. This will give organized crime yet another entry point into the economy. If anything, the government should be decreasing the influence and profitability of organized crime by ending drug prohibition. Instead, instituting a national sales tax would simply be giving the Mafia, the Triads, and street gangs another large stream of income.

The FairTax is a national sales tax that includes a “prebate,” which refunds the amount of sales tax that would be paid by a family at the poverty level. While this makes such a plan less regressive, it makes the system expensive to administer and ripe for fraud.

It is a general rule that one should tax something that one wants less of. A national sales tax is a way to decrease spending. This is no better than a federal income tax which decreases the incentive to work. The government should seek to remain neutral and not discourage either human activity. Of course, back when the federal government was Constitution-sized, it relied mainly on tariffs. Non-protectionist tariffs and excise taxes might be at least the start of a rational alternative to both federal income and sales taxes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Is the Problem with Mozilla CEO Incident?

by Gerard Emershaw
On April 3, newly appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich stepped down. Following Eich’s appointment as CEO of the internet browser company, a number of its employees took to Twitter and began tweeting their displeasure over this appointment. In addition, three members of Mozilla’s Board resigned following Eich’s appointment. At issue was political contributions that Eich made in 2008 in support of California’s Proposition 8 which opposed same-sex marriage.

The question is why anyone other than a Mozilla shareholder or a Mozilla shareholder cares about this. What exactly is the problem here? Mozilla has the right to have any CEO that it chooses. Brendan Eich has the right to take the job when offered but also has the right to step down from the job if he so chooses. Mozilla employees have the right to their opinion. The government is not involved in this situation in any way, so neither the First Amendment nor any other Constitutional right is at play.

Conservatives have been complaining about a politically correct “lynch mob” mentality at Mozilla. Oddly, these types of critics tend to be the very same kind of people who champion the rights of corporate entities. So why should Mozilla not have the right to do what it did? If the employees of a Christian company demanded that their CEO step down and the company forced that executive to do so after it was revealed that he or she had donated $1,000 to Planned Parenthood, would right wing critics whine about that? Doubtful.

Should Mozilla employees have been more tolerant? Perhaps. But they have a right not to be tolerant. The truth is that people on both the left and right of the political spectrum tend not to be tolerant. Would critics of Mozilla and its employees prefer that the Nanny State step in and mandate that social libertarians “play nice” with traditionalists? Or vice versa? Hopefully not.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Poll on the Pulse of America and the Future



by Gerard Emershaw
 
Reason–Rupe recently polled 1,003 adults on a number of important  social and political issues. The results present an interesting picture of the attitudes of Americans and give hints of what may be ahead for the nation. What follows is a summary and analysis of some of the data revealed by the poll.

Satisfaction (or lack thereof)

According to the poll, 30% believe that the United States is headed in the “right direction” while 60% believe that it is headed in the “wrong direction.” Only 43% approved of President Obama’s performance while 51% disapprove. Only a tiny 7% approve of the job that Congress is doing while 74% disapprove. One would think that this indicates a likelihood for political change in November of 2014 and 2016 at the polls. One may be wrong about that. Regarding the hot button issue of “Obamacare,” 36% have a favorable opinion of the law while 53% have an unfavorable opinion. All this suggests that President Obama’s presidency is viewed as a failure by the American people as he heads toward lame duck status.

The 2014 and 2016 Elections

40% said that if Congressional elections were held today they would vote for a Democratic candidate while 36% said they would vote for a Democratic candidate. 29% said that they would prefer the Democrats to control Congress, 24% said that they would prefer the Republicans to control Congress, and 43% would prefer neither in control. This indicates that most likely the current status quo will be maintained after the elections later this year with the Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and the Republicans maintaining control of the House. Divided government is often good since it means that fewer laws are likely to be passed.

2016 looks gloomy to say the least. A whopping 64% of self-identified Democrats say they would vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. While Republicans are divided, the highest total is 15% who say they would vote for Mike Huckabee. However, Independents favor Rand Paul over Mike Huckabee. It does not require Nostradamus to tell that Mike Huckabee will never be president. If the Republicans do nominate such a candidate, Hillary Clinton will certainly win the White House in 2016 if she opts to run.

Of those surveyed, 23% identified as Republicans, 31% identified as Democrats, and 38% identified as Independents. This indicates that unless a Republican candidate can win a large majority of Independents, a Democrat is likely to win the White House in 2016. A candidate such as Mike Huckabee will simply not appeal to Independents. According to the poll, only 3% of Independents would vote for Huckabee in a Republican primary compared with 11% for Rand Paul, 8% for Paul Ryan, 8% for Chris Christie, and 6% for Jeb Bush.

Minimum Wage

On the issue of raising the minimum wage, the survey found that 67% favor and 32% oppose. A plurality of 40% believe that raising the minimum wage will have no effect on jobs, while 38% believe that it will increase the number of jobs, and 20% believe that it will somehow miraculously increase the number of jobs. When it is stipulated that raising the minimum wage would decrease the number of jobs by causing employers to lay off workers, 58% oppose raising minimum wage while 39% still favor it. When it is stipulated that raising minimum wage will lead to price increases, 51% favored raising it while 46% opposed.

Raising the minimum wage is almost certainly going to lead to both fewer jobs and higher prices. The fact that the majority do not want to raise minimum wage if it leads to lost jobs is a good sign. However, the economic illiteracy demonstrated here is a bit troubling.

Foreign Policy

The poll indicates that Americans are weary of American interventionist foreign policy. When it comes to the present situation in Ukraine, 58% said that the United States should stay out of the situation, 31% said that the United States should continue imposing economic sanctions, while a mere 8% were apocalyptic-minded enough to say that the United States should send troops and assets to Ukraine.

Even if Russia were to invade Ukraine, Americans are wary of intervention. In such a situation, 76% would oppose sending American troops while only 20% would favor it. Regarding military aid and weapons to Ukraine, 62% oppose and 33% favor. Unfortunately, Americans still appear to believe in the morality and effectiveness of sanctions as 61% would favor imposing stricter economic sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine while 32% oppose. However, overall this paints a picture of a growing spirit of non-interventionism in the United States.

Privacy

Americans believe that the NSA (36%) is more likely to invade their privacy than Facebook (26%), the IRS (18%), or Google (12%). However, they trust the IRS (35%) and the NSA (18%) more with their private information than Google (10%) or Facebook (5%). While the country is becoming so blatantly corporatist that sometimes it is difficult to determine where the government ends and powerful crony capitalist corporations begin, it is alarming that people would trust the government more than private internet companies when it comes to their private information. Companies like Google and Facebook clearly spy on their users. However, they are most likely to use this information to sell to other companies or to tailor the experience of their websites with particularity for their users. Even if these companies do abuse or misuse private data, they do not possess the ability to herd their users into prisons or concentration camps or assassinate them like the federal government does.

Big Government

Finally, Americans appear to favor a smaller rather than bigger and more powerful federal government. 50% believe “The less government the better,” while 47% believe “There are more things government should be doing.” 54% believe “People would be better able to handle today’s problems within a free market with less government involvement” while 43% believe “We need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems.” 49% believe government should not favor any particular values while 47% believe that government should promote traditional values.

This all suggests that Americans are now beginning to feel that the moralistic Nanny State needs to be scaled back. However, the problem is that people often claim to favor smaller government up until the point that they find out that smaller government means that they will be receiving fewer goodies from the government. It remains to be seen whether Americans are in love with smaller government or merely with the idea of smaller government. The former requires sacrifices while the latter is purely hypothetical and costs nothing. Of course, the latter also solves nothing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Are Members of Congress Underpaid?

by Gerard Emershaw
Virginia Congressman Jim Moran is clipping coupons and searching in between the cushions of his sofa for loose change. Perhaps one day soon he will have to join the 47 million Americans on food stamps. Yes, Congressman Moran thinks that members of Congress need more money or they will be carrying signs that read “WILL FILIBUSTER FOR FOOD.” Moran recently said: “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid. I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.” According to Moran, members of Congress simply cannot afford to live decent middle class existences on a mere $174,000 per year. The median American income is just over $51,000. Approximately 15% of American live below the poverty rate. If the federal government were to use honest unemployment figures, they would show that nearly one in four Americans is unemployed or underemployed. The median wealth of members of Congress was $2.8 million in 2012. Yet, Congressman Moran wants the American public to feel sorry for him and his colleagues.

Congressman Moran is calling for members of Congress to receive an additional housing stipend of $2,800 a year in addition to their salary. Over 600,000 Americans are homeless, so apparently Congressman Moran does not wish to add to that total. Of course, most homeless Americans make considerably less than $174,000 a year with excellent benefits.

In fairness, Congressman Moran is one of the poorer members of Congress. Of course, he has been a millionaire in the past due to marrying into money. A divorce and huge loses in options trading have contributed to his financial decline. It should also be mentioned that Congressman Moran received a sweetheart $450,000 loan at a low interest rate in 2002 as a possible quid pro quo. Apparently, a half million dollars does not go as far as it used to.

If Jim Moran is such a great asset, he is always free to leave office and work in the private sector. On the free market, he will be paid what he is worth. In fact, he has announced that he will retire at the end of his current term. Prior to becoming a Congressman, Moran worked as a government bureaucrat in Washington following a brief career as a stockbroker. One imagines that he will do fine after he leaves office and becomes a lobbyist or the like. In many ways Congress can be like a college that trains its members how to later become lobbyists. Like an undergrad student, a Congressman learns important skills while in office—such as gaming the system and getting around the law. Like an MBA student, members of Congress also meet the right people.

Moran should be made aware that initially members of Congress earned only $6 a day. Taking inflation into account, $6 in 1800 is equal to just over $80 today. Members of Congress did not become fulltime until the middle of the 19th century. If members of Congress cannot make ends meet, perhaps they should return to the days of the part-time Congress. A Constitution-sized federal government would only require a part-time Congress anyway. Members of Congress can simply keep their day jobs and work on the Hill for a few weeks a year. Or perhaps taxpayers can simply pay them to stay home. If Congress would simply stay away from Washington and follow the Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm,” then that would actually make it worthwhile for taxpayers to kick in that additional $2,800 housing stipend.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Campaign Finance and the First Amendment: Why Justice Thomas Was Right

by Gerard Emershaw


Recently in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court voted 5–4 along ideological lines to overturn a campaign finance law which limited the amount that an individual could donate in a two-year election cycle to a total of $48,600 to candidates and $74,600 to political action committees. However, the Court ruled that the legal imposed limit of $5,200 to any individual candidate—$2,600 for primary election and another $2,600 for general election—was constitutionally valid.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Court should have also ruled this $5,200 limit on donations to any one individual candidate unconstitutional. Justice Thomas was correct.

The rationale for limits on how much an individual may donate to a single federal political candidate can be found in Buckley v. Valeo (1976). In that case, the Court ruled that the limiting of political donations that individuals can make to a candidate is a justified limitation of First Amendment rights for the following reason:

Under a system of private financing of elections, a candidate lacking immense personal or family wealth must depend on financial contributions from others to provide the resources necessary to conduct a successful campaign. The increasing importance of the communications media and sophisticated mass-mailing and polling operations to effective campaigning make the raising of large sums of money an ever more essential ingredient of an effective candidacy. To the extent that large contributions are given to secure a political quid pro quo from current and potential office holders, the integrity of our system of representative democracy is undermined.  

Justice Thomas focuses mainly on issues related to the First Amendment and the appropriate standard of review that should be imposed upon campaign contributions. Justice Thomas objects to the view in the Buckley ruling which stated that “[t]he quantity of communication by the contributor does not increase perceptibly with the size of his contribution,” and “[a]t most, the size of the contribution provides a very rough index of the intensity of the contributor’s support for the candidate. Instead, Justice Thomas claims that campaign contributions do increase the quantity of communication by allowing the candidate in question to amplify his or her voice. He also claims that larger contributions express the level of approval a donor has for the candidate in question. Justice Thomas also objects to the practice of limiting contributions but not limiting direct expenditures by a candidate because the two are just “two sides of the same First Amendment coin.”

What Justice Thomas does not discuss is the aforementioned worry about corruption. Without doubt if donors were allowed to give unlimited contributions, it would increase the worry that such a donor could “own” a candidate by having that candidate “in his [or her] pocket.” However, on the other side of that is the First Amendment which states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

While the Court far too often allows other considerations to outweigh free speech, they are wrong in doing so. The First Amendment says “no law.” It does not qualify this by saying “unless the government has a more important objective which outweighs the value of free speech.”

The real problem is this. The government has grown far beyond its Constitutional boundaries. The President is akin to a Caesar. The executive branch agencies do most of the true legislating in violation of Article I of the Constitution. Congress has surrendered most of its power to the executive branch, but it uses the Commerce Clause to do the bidding of its corporatist campaign contributors. So, how does Congress and the Supreme Court address all this unconstitutionality? By violating the Constitution once again by limiting free speech. This is wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right. This is a political version of swallowing the spider to catch the fly. The real question is why does the Court keep allowing the federal government to swallow that fly?

A Constitution-sized government is not a powerful government. The President as defined in the Constitution is no Caesar. The executive branch is not a one-headed legislator with a multitude of tentacles. Congress is very limited in what it can do. The Tenth Amendment further limits the power of the federal government. A Constitution-sized government has elected civil servants who do not have enough power to be worth buying. Even if they did, there is nothing preventing the people from amending the Constitution to enact term limits for members of Congress as was earlier done with the President. It would not even be impossible to further limit the President to merely one term if necessary. This would further the amount of time that elected federal civil servants could accept anything akin to bribes. The bottom line is that unless and until the people limit the power of the federal government to what is stated explicitly in the Constitution, bribery and corruption will be the rule rather than the exception regardless of any campaign contribution limits. There will always be ways around those.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

NY SAFE Act Makes Second Amendment Less Safe

by Gerard Emershaw
Last week more than 1,000 people protested the SAFE Act outside New York’s capital in Albany. The New York gun control law was passed over a year ago, but an upcoming deadline by which New Yorkers must register their assault weapons has created renewed fury on the part of the Empire State’s gun owners.

The SAFE Act—The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013—contains a number of important provisions:

  • It bans “high capacity magazines” of over ten rounds
  • It requires that ammunition dealers perform background checks
  • It creates a mandatory registry of New Yorkers who own assault weapons
  • It requires that mental health professionals who believe a mental health patient made a credible threat of harming others report the threat to a mental health director, who would then have to report serious threats to the state Department of Criminal Justice Service
  • It makes it a crime not to report a stolen gun within 24 hours
  • It requires a background check for all gun sales except to immediate family
  • It mandates that guns be “safely stored” from any household member who has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime, has been involuntarily committed, or is currently under an order of protection
  • It bans all internet gun sales in the state
  • It requires New York gun owners to renew their permits every five years
  • It allows law enforcement officials to preemptively seize one's firearms without a warrant or court order when there is probable cause the individual is mentally unstable or intends to use the weapons to commit a crime

I have previously made an absolutist defense of the Second Amendment, and these considerations still hold true. The fact that the Supreme Court has ever allowed the federal, state, or local governments to infringe the Second Amendment rights of Americans either means that they cannot read or that they have the hubris to think that they know better about what the Founding Fathers meant than the Founding Fathers did. It does not get much clearer than “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Banning “high capacity magazines” is clearly just an attempt to create an eventual slippery that will eventually lead to more bans on guns. What is so magic about ten rounds? Would it be so difficult for a mass shooter like Adam Lanza to carry three 10 round clips instead of one 30 clip? Is changing gun cartridges that difficult? Does the New York state legislature and Governor believe that the lives of the first ten would be victims do not matter? It seems that it should be all or nothing in this matter, and for the SAFE Act advocates, it is all or nothing. They want to ban all guns, but they are doing it in a gradualist fashion. Originally the SAFE Act made the limit 7 rounds, but that was struck down in court. Eventually, if gun control advocates get their way, the limit will be a zero round magazine.

Laws like the SAFE Act create solutions in search of a problem. Mass shootings in the United States are not on the rise. The total has held steady for the last 20 years. The 24/7 cable news culture and internet makes coverage of tragic crimes like Sandy Hook omnipresent, and this creates the illusion that such crimes are increasing. Enhanced background checks will likely not prevent such crimes. An examination of 93 mass shootings from 2009 through September 2013, conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, found no indication that any of the perpetrators were prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms.

The New York requirement that assault rifles be registered is clearly nothing but a way for the government to invade the privacy of its citizens and be able to single out gun owners in the state for potential future persecution. There is no reason why the government needs to know who owns an assault rifle. In 2010, there were only 358 murders carried out in the United States using a rifle of any kind. Twice as many were carried out by hands, fists, or feet. Assault weapons are simply not used in very many crimes. Therefore, it must be that the gun grabbers in New York are after something else.

One possibility is that they know that many will not register their assault weapons with the state, and thus, the New York government can magically turn law abiding New York gun owners into criminals through the use of this unconstitutional law. A similar law in Connecticut was ignored by scores of gun owners in that state, and there is little reason to believe that the same will not be true in New York. This will give the New York government ample reason to begin a witch hunt of gun registry evaders. It will allow it to use the SAFE Act’s unconstitutional gun grabbing provision to grab unregistered assault weapons without a warrant.

Background checks and government gun registries of any kind egregiously violate the Second Amendment. Self-defense—particularly against a tyrannical government—is a natural right of human beings. Laws such as the SAFE Act make Americans less safe by eroding the protection of that natural right. Such gun control measures are part of a death by one thousand cuts strategy by which guns will gradually be outlawed. Such a strategy must be opposed from the very beginning.