Disenfranchising gun owners


WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 — One of the prevailing civil rights issues of recent years is the legitimacy of voter ID provisions. Should people be required to show ID when they vote in elections? Conservatives believe that there is rampant election fraud, and that individuals should be required to show some kind of identification proving who they are when they vote. Liberals believe that such provisions drives voters away from taking part in elections. They argue that adding an ID card is tantamount to a poll tax, which is against the law and discourages and disenfranchises voters from showing up on Election Day.

Both of these are valid points.

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However; if Liberals believe that requiring a state or federally issued card in order to vote is attempted disenfranchisement of a group of people seeking to exercise their Constitutional rights, why do the same people place expensive and intrusive restrictions upon those who would exercise their right to bear arms under the protection of that same document?

How is requiring voter ID cards voter disenfranchisement, but requiring firearms ID cards not the same?

The answer is, there is no difference.

Many opponents of the voter ID laws argue that proposed legislation requiring some sort of identification card would turn away individuals who neither have the money to acquire such a card, nor the means to convey them there. They also argue that there is no election fraud, and the alleged need for such measures is grossly exaggerated. But one might argue that if individuals can get to the polling place to vote, then they should be able to acquire a card to prove their identification. You have probably heard by now the repeated rhetoric of, if you have to show ID for drain cleaner, you should probably have to show ID to vote.

But these things are surmountable.

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Double driver’s licenses, social security cards, military ID, or any other Government Issue identification you would like to pick, as a valid form of identification for elections. If someone who is infirm or otherwise unable to make the trip to the polling place and votes absentee wants a voter ID card, the government should be able to make provisions to help them as well.

There should be no cost. You should not have to incur anything but the cost of travel in order to vote. It is your Constitutional right and it should not depend on your income.

The same should apply for firearms.

If you believe that requiring ID to vote disenfranchises potential voters, then you must then believe that placing financial roadblocks in the path of potential gun owners to be equally disenfranchising. There is no difference. Both are the basis of individual liberty and a check on government in our Republic, and they are both protected by the Constitution.

Let’s take a look at what roadblocks await potential gun owners.

In Maryland, in order to buy a handgun, one must pass a test and pay a $200 fee. One must get finger printed, and pay money to pass a background check. After all of the fees, fines, and procedures that the state of Maryland places before you, you are looking at over $300 just to buy a handgun or other regulated weapon before you even take possession of the item you also paid money for.

In the District of Columbia, home of the US Constitution, in order to legally own even a shell of ammunition a resident must register their weapons with the DC Metropolitan Police. This requires a $35 processing fee for long guns, and a $50 fee for handguns. Your serial number is taken down, ballistics tests are conducted, and your weapon is registered. Even having ammunition in DC without having the necessary firearm registered is a crime.

In Massachusetts and Illinois the restrictions are even tighter. In order to purchase and possess a firearm, and in some cases ammunition, an individual needs to pay to register their guns under a FOID card. FOID stands for Firearms Owner Identification. In Illinois you must fill out an application, provide a picture, a signature, and a $10 application fee. If for some reason you forget to renew your FOID application, which includes another fee, you are considered by the police to be illegally possessing firearm(s).

READ ALSO: Illinois legislators square off on gun rights

In Massachusetts, an individual has to apply to the police for a FID card (Firearms ID). They have to pay for their basic safety training, as well as a $100 processing fee, and any fee associated with procuring photos in order to prove their identity during the course of licensing. Again, that is hundreds of dollars before one even pays for their weapon.

How are these measures not tantamount to disenfranchisement? How are these fees any less dissuading and infringing than the fees that would be in place for a voter ID?

The government knows what it is doing when it comes to disenfranchising gun owners. Gun owners are far more likely to be Conservative, and private individuals who despise red tape and bureaucratic hassle. They are also far more likely to be dissuaded from doing something like applying for a firearms identification card by filling out forms, getting their picture taken, getting fingerprinted and having those records kept on file in what is basically tantamount to a gun owner registry vs. a gun registry.

The kind of people who own guns are the same people who prefer minimal government interference in their lives, and these provisions are more than enough to convince a gun owner that he or she should just refrain from owning a firearm.

It is difficult to believe that one can reconcile a belief that a voter identification card disenfranchises voters with the belief that the same kind of measures do not do the same to potential firearms owners. The only cost that a firearms purchaser should bear is the price of their firearm, and their ammunition. Anything else should be held in the same amount of contempt as a poll tax. These rights, to vote and to own firearms, are the fundamental pillars of our republic.

The right to own firearms at its basest level protects the right to vote.

READ ALSO: Gun Rights and the 14th Amendment

Both voting, and gun ownership should enjoy equal protection and reverence among politicians and media pundits, however as we have seen while it is allegedly un-American to require voter ID, it is apparently perfectly justifiable for the government to treat gun owners like criminals. Until these two sentiments are reconciled, politicians and the media will continue to pick and choose liberties which they will defend or ignore at the expense of the individual freedom of each and every American.

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  • RGZ_50

    In Mexico, all voters must have IDs for elections. If the individual is not able to afford the standardized and required ID, the government will furnish that ID at no charge – so, as Conor points out, there’s no griping about needing one to vote. I think Maryland, Massachussetts, D.C. and Illinois need to be brought back into court re what is clearly a work around for these governments that wish to economically ban gun ownership. The requirement for legal possession of ammo in D.C. is especially outrageous and unconscionable.

  • Sally Morris

    The Left’s stance on Voter ID is so hypocritical it is absurd.

  • Michael B

    Well stated points, but the writer misses a critical point. NOBODY is allowed to work in the US without presenting TWO forms of ID, usually a driver’s license or non-driver ID PLUS a Social Security Card, or a passport ($200 for passport in fees and costs!)

    If the liberals are that adamant about eliminating the “cost” of ID, why don’t they require all 50 states to eliminate FEES for driver’s licenses and non-driver ID?

    Why are there fees for the issue of a copy of a citizen’s birth certificate? Isn’t that a “poll tax” as well?