Proposed gun registration law is far-fetched

By Editorial Board

Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a statewide gun registry law Feb. 9 that would require handgun owners to register their firearm with the state and pay a fee of $65 for each weapon. Supposedly, the law would help police track down suspects in violent crimes and combat illegal firearm trafficking in Chicago.

While a law that could help curb violence and crime as drastically as this one sounds like a great idea, Emanuel’s plan isn’t the solution, and it isn’t really fair to the rest of Illinois.

An important provision in the law is the $65 fee. For people who own one or two guns, this may not be such a steep price. But many families in rural parts of the state own multiple firearms, so following the law could set them back hundreds of dollars. After five years, owners must register the firearm again, but the fee is cut to $25 in an attempt to give gun owners a break.

While Emanuel’s law sounds great to Chicagoans, it isn’t fair for him to impose laws on the rest of the state that only benefit Chicago. People in southern Illinois already hate Chicago for the most part, so asking them for money to help us probably doesn’t sound appealing to them.

Another objection, raised by pro-gun activists, is that taxing firearms violates civil rights. Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association called Emanuel’s proposal “preposterous.”

“It’s a civil right [to own a gun],” Pearson told the Chicago Sun-Times. “You don’t have to pay for a civil right. It’s like a poll tax. He’s trying to limit handguns for criminals, and he’s attacking law-abiding citizens. There are 1.4 million firearms owners in this state, and he wants to tax them all $65. It’s crazy.”

He is right. The right to bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, and taxing a civil liberty is an entire debate in itself.

Emanuel’s plan simply won’t pass, and it shouldn’t. Though he claims funds from the new tax will aid in improving two criminal databases, Emanuel’s aggressive push for speed-camera tickets and other money-raising ordinances bring up the question of whether this plan is a money-making ploy. This idea could be another way to close Chicago’s budget deficit, and the mayor should find other solutions that won’t hurt responsible gun owners.