Why Your Gun Rights Should Be Protected
South Dakota citizens enjoy robust protection of their gun rights. State law prohibits any government agency from creating any kind of registration, list or record of privately owned guns, gun owners or concealed weapons permit holders. This law is practically written out in crayon on construction paper to make the point very, very clear. It is plainly declared that any kind of record keeping by any government entity or employee in South Dakota that allows tracking gun owners or ownership is prohibited. Period. Full stop.
Private Party Gun Registries
Since 2011, the city of Sioux Falls has maintained a registry of every gun that passes through local pawn shops. Approximately 16,000 guns have been registered with the city and ran through a private, third party database. Let that sink in for a minute. A private, third party gun registry.
Nobody likes stolen guns, in fact the author of this article has been a victim of gun theft. I’d rather never see my stolen property again than have thousands of legal gun owners tracked by a third party on behalf of the city of Sioux Falls.
Stolen guns are already recorded and tracked by the ATF. Law enforcement can access that database at any time to check a serial number. They do not need to maintain a record beyond the time it takes to run the check and dispose of the personal information. The fact that a third party firm is out there offering a stolen gun check service is horrifying, and an affront to every American who values privacy.
Brandon Maddox, owner of Silencer Central has been pushing back against this affront to our privacy and rights. He has routinely pointed out to Sioux Falls city leadership that their database is redundant and meaningless, given the number of existing tools available to law enforcement.
Sioux Falls also requires anyone selling guns in the city to register with the city, pay a licensing fee and report their guns to the police for third party tracking.
The Risk To Our Rights
Maddox fears this puts collectors, small licensed dealers who travel to gun shows, and private sellers looking to get rid of unwanted guns at risk of arrest and prosecution at the annual Dakota Territory Gun Collectors Association’s gun show held in Sioux Falls. This reasonable fear of heavy handed enforcement by city officials was addressed in a recent Sioux Falls Argus-Leader editorial.
This editorial is full of trite platitudes and is frankly insulting to anyone of average intelligence. The newspaper would have you believe that Sioux Falls residents live in a high crime world, where guns are somehow leaping out of nowhere to commit murder and mayhem. They treat any effort to reign in decades of unrelenting attacks on gun rights as a risk to society, and see no problem with allowing a private third party to track gun sales.
While on the surface the goal of recovering stolen guns seems laudable, the method is horrendous and redundant. In fact, of the 16,000 guns monitored by Sioux Falls police, only a tiny fraction of a percent – about 0.10% turned out to be reported stolen, or around 25 guns. The risk to privacy, civil rights, and danger of putting gun registries in the hands of private people and an out of control police force simply isn’t worth the minimal reward, especially when non invasive tools to track those guns already exist.
Instead, city officials are doubling down. They think removing “gun dealer” from their law will somehow make it all legal now, and create a fiction where the registry is continued, but under a shiny new name.
The Argus-Leader endorsement of this registry, and opposition to attempts to end it demonstrates a painful ignorance of law and history. Turning law enforcement work over to a private party only opens up innocent people to the risk of data breaches and stolen gun sales records. Records that nobody but the FFL in question should ever have.
The Solution is Obvious
Sioux Falls needs to get in line with South Dakota law. The state has made it extremely clear that only the state can pass laws concerning the sale and possession of firearms, and that no government entity may create any kind of record involving gun ownership. We might hope the state attorney general steps in and sues the city of Sioux Falls to prevent further use of their gun registry.
Every tool law enforcement needs to track stolen guns exists already without the need to farm such work out to a nebulous private third party. Sioux Falls has created a nightmare scenario where gun shows could be raided and shut down by aggressive city officials enraged at the impotence of their own authority and law, private citizens could have personal information exposed in a data breech, and the rate of recovering stolen guns will not change.
It is not unreasonable for a pawn shop to do a serial check on a gun to make sure it isn’t stolen. It is also the author’s personal experience that such can be done in a couple minutes with an officer on the phone logged into the ATF stolen gun database. No record keeping, no paperwork, no tracking of private citizens. With barely one or two guns per thousand found by Sioux Falls to be stolen, this is the cheaper, easier and more effective approach. Of course this method lacks the appeal of a defacto registry that anti gunners love so much.
Brandon Maddox points out the obvious slippery slope Sioux Falls has created, while ignoring the reality that given enough slopes, things will start slipping. The anti-gun left is fast to point out slippery slopes they find convenient, and just as fast to mock the ones they created to entrap others.
Sioux Falls needs to fall into compliance with South Dakota law right now. Stop playing at social control and failed progressive agendas that endanger the rights and privacy of all South Dakota citizens.