Do the arithmetic

There are those that advocate complete registration of firearms with annual verification by the police. Those people have not done the arithmetic. It’s not even math, it’s simple arithmetic.

The exact numbers are unknown but the estimates are that there are about 200,000,000 firearms in private hands in this country. Again, exact numbers are unknown, but it is estimated there are about 80,000,000 gun owners.

The identity of each gun owner would have to be verified otherwise just like in Chicago where the cemeteries are full of registered voters a similar thing would happen with gun registration. Assuming this takes five minutes per gun owner this would consume a total of about 400,000,000 minutes or about 6,700,000 police man-hours per year.

The gun owner addresses would need to be verified every year as well. Otherwise the straw purchaser would simply give false addresses while living in a different state or live out of their motor home. Assuming some sort of efficient “address verification visits” are done to a specific area of town each day and the rural areas don’t dominate, and the gun owners are home when the police visit this is going to take something on the order of about 30 minutes per verification. This will consume about 2,400,000,000 minutes or about 40,000,000 police man-hours per year.

And if, on the average, each of those gun owners moves once every five years then the addresses would need to be updated in the system. Assuming it takes five minutes per address change this would mean it would require about 80,000,000 minutes or about 1,300,000 police man-hours per year.

Assuming it takes five minutes for each gun to be removed from its case, the serial number read, and put back in it’s case that would mean it would consume about 1,000,000,000 minutes or about 17,000,000 police man-hours per year.

This brings the total to about 65 (6.7 + 40 + 1.3 + 17) million police man-hours per year for this registration scheme to work—assuming all the gun owners were reasonably cooperative. Or about assuming 2000 man-hours per man-year this is, without any addition support or management personal, about 32,500 people involved full time. With salary, benefits, office space, and equipment this probably will come to about $100,000 per year per person. This means it would cost at least $3,250,000,000 per year.

There are about 10,000 murders committed with firearms per year so each of those murders could have 3.25 full time additional investigators and  prosecutors instead of the registration scheme.

The above is a very low estimate of the costs and ignores the following issues which increase the costs and decrease any benefits dramatically:

  • Known felons cannot be required to register their firearms (see Haynes v. U.S., 390 U.S. 85)
  • The potential for police corruption will be very high
  • The Canadian experience with firearms registration showed that millions of gun owners will not register their firearms
  • If registration would work then why didn’t the government try registration with recreational drugs or alcohol during prohibition?
  • Registration to exercise a specific enumerated right is likely to be struck down as unconstitutional
  • There will be thousands of gun owners who insist the bullets be registered before the guns and deliver those to government buildings, equipment, and employees before bringing in their guns

Update: Linoge, via email, pointed out an error in my arithmetic. I had minutes in a case where it should have been hours. This bumped the total up dramatically.

Update2: Because of additional input from the comments I fixed some typos and added words to point out this is very conservative because it assumes no additional supervisors or support staff.

38 thoughts on “Do the arithmetic

  1. There will be thousands of gun owners who insist the bullets be registered before the guns and deliver those to government buildings, equipment, and employees before bringing in their guns

    Joe, should I infer from the above statement that delivery for registration would occur one-at-a-time?

  2. Known felons cannot be required to register their firearms (see Haynes v. U.S., 390 U.S. 85)

    But I thought that was the whole point Joe. To be able to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals.
    Given the fact that criminals would be exempt, and the law abiding would have to cooperate, it begs the question, what is the real goal of registration? Given the number of people they would have to hire as you said, corruption would be high. I wonder how many gun owners would be extorted out of cash, because if they don’t a record might be lost and they would be in non compliance.

    Two words come to mind regarding registration. First one is 4 letters, starts with F, ends with K. Second word three letters, starts with O, ends in F. It could also be referred to in the British vernacular as Bullocks.

    Too many have died at the hands of registration schemes and gun control. As far as I’m concerned all the laws currently on the books should be scrubbed of for that reason alone.

  3. Mock it all you want, and distort it all you want with your pseudo-intellectual “arithmetic,” but this kind of scheme would eliminate straw purchasing. In spite of what fanboy Barron says, the real goal of registration would be to constrain you boys to hang onto your guns, something you obviously can’t do now.

  4. This will consume about 40,000,000 minutes or about 5,000,000 police man-hours per year.

    Um, I think you mean something closer to 667,000 man hours. UOM error. It looks like you divided by hours/day vs. min/hr.

  5. I believe you have made an egregious math error. Assuming 30 minutes per gun owner per year for address verification is not 40,000,000 minutes but 30*80,000,000 minutes or 40,000,000 hours (8 times the 5 million that you state). This would more than double your final total to 75 million man hours. More than $3.7 billion dollars.

    The good news is you erred on the the side of caution, so even assuming that everyting is super efficient and it only takes 4 minutes per address verification, then your $1.5 billion holds. Of course, then we would have to suspend all belief because where have we had a government operation take 4 minutes for a verification?

  6. Last time I heard, the best guestimate was closer to 290,000,000 guns, not 200,000,000. And I bet that’s still on the low side.

  7. MikeB302000,

    The last time I checked arithmetic is not pseudo-intellectual–unless you are living in a different universe than I am.

    And if it is not affordable and/or impractical then it cannot achieve the desired goals any more than prohibition or “The War on Drugs” did.

    I have two words for you Mike, Molōn labe!

  8. Mike, shut the hell up. You’ve already proved that you’re a puritan and a GFW.

    I keep hearing that all these gun owners are doing straw purchases. Really!? I find it hard to believe that, and I fail to see how forcing law abiding citizens to register their firearms are going to stop people who are already violating the law. Registration has absolutely jack to do with keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals.

    You keep portraying thins as if all gun owners do X. When in fact it’s the sever minority, and even then it’s not actually main stream gun owners. They’re criminals who maintain a clean record to purchase firearms for their friends, there by breaking the law. They just haven’t been caught yet.

    You can not tell me that a registration system would not be used for confiscation, because every time I turn around some dumb ass such as yourself calls for Banning X. With registration now they can come around and confiscate my property, that I bought with MY money, because YOU say I shouldn’t have it. But remember the felons are exempt from registration.

    So fess up to your real goal and stop lying you fucking shithook.

  9. Actually Mr. Barnett that would be “bollocks”. A “bullock” is a bovine bereft of his bollocks. But I like what you are saying nonetheless.

  10. MikeB302000,

    and distort it all you want with your pseudo-intellectual “arithmetic,”

    Does this mean you don’t even consider yourself to be at the level of a ‘pseudo-intellectual’?

    You have proposed this registration and visitation scheme in the past — can you not even mount more of a defense than a 5 year old argument of “don’t make fun of it”?

    In spite of what fanboy Barron says, the real goal of registration would be to constrain you boys to hang onto your guns, something you obviously can’t do now.

    You might have more standing on this issue if you could/would tell us what happened to the firearms you owned, eh Sparky?

    Did your firearms end up in the hands of other criminals? Did you follow any of the laws in effect at the time? Did you follow any of the laws you propose?

    Before you start trying to remove the imaginary splinter from our eyes, you might want to pull the hypocritical plank from yours.

  11. Joe,
    Here a couple more ways this is a conservative estimate that you might want to add to your list:

    These 32,500 cops have 0 additional supervisors.

    A mere 2 weeks of training, vacation and sick (combined) is silly, especially when you’re talking about federal employees.

  12. Publius, thanks for correcting me so I don’t sound like another ignorant Yank. You learn something new every day. 🙂

    God I need to stop watching so much Top Gear, but it’s just so damn entertaining!

    B

  13. Even if it were possible to eliminate 100% of “straw purchases” there will be just as many criminals with guns as there are now. I don’t believe there are any straw purchases of illegal drugs, are there?

    But this is a distraction. Gun control is not and has never been about crime or safety., per se. It’s about control of the people, and we the sheep cannot be allowed the power that flows from the barrel of a gun. Only the shepherds may have that power, because they’re better and smarter than we. They know what’s best for us and we don’t.

    This ideal of course is completely contrary to the American founding principles. The left, as mikeb, believes in that shepherd/sheep ideal, but they’ll rarely if ever come right out and say it. Instead they’re forced to hide behind assertions of crime and safety, and the children and all the rest, in an attempt to hide their motivations and intentions. Where they get their way to the greatest extent, crime and safety get worse, yet they continue to push for more of the restrictions, controls and constitutional infringements that caused the problems in the first place, thus proving the deep, pathological lie that is Progressivism.

    Joe; check your numbers in paragraph six – there are a couple of extra zeros in there.

  14. …distort it all you want…

    Please, Mike, explain to us exactly how you think Joe distorted the situation; because, oddly enough, I agree with you – I firmly believe that he sorely underestimated the amount of time that would be necessary to confirm firearm owners’ identities, much less the time necessary to execute door-to-door examinations of inventories, which would result in that cost per year continuing to rise to the stratosphere. So, back up your words for once – where do you see a “distortion”?

    …your pseudo-intellectual “arithmetic,”…

    I almost do not know what to say to that. You do realize that everything Joe did above was nothing more than basic addition, multiplication, and division, right? He just happened to use large numbers, but those are the kinds of functions we generally expect middle schoolers to be wholly capable of performing – are you admitting that your own personal education/intelligence is lower than that of a middle schooler?

    …the real goal of registration would be to constrain you boys to hang onto your guns…

    Thanks for admitting that you have absolutely no interest in attempting to control criminals, but are instead focusing your authoritarian wet dreams on people who have committed no crime and broken no law. Remind me again why I should be forced to do anything because someone else broke a law?

    And, speaking of, where, exactly, do you propose coming up with the four billion dollars to run this program?

    …something you obviously can’t do now.

    *checks* Yup, all of my firearms are exactly where I left them. You were saying?

    Whew. I mean, we already knew you are incapable of doing mid-level comparative analysis, and you already admitted to being incapable of understanding multiplication, but… seriously? Have you never heard of a calculator? How do you honestly expect anyone to take anything you have to say seriously when you throw out idiotic crap like this?

  15. “There are those that advocate complete registration of firearms with annual verification by the police.”

    Not even LCAV wants “annual verification by the police.” http://www.lcav.org/content/registration_firearms.pdf

    They view gun registration as something similar to auto registration or driver’s licenses. Civilian clerks could run the annual background checks. You would self-report your annual registration. Unless you have hundreds of guns, this doesn’t seem terribly difficult.

  16. ubu52,

    This post was specifically aimed at MikeB302000 who explicitly did propose annual verification.

    The comparison to automobiles doesn’t work because automobiles are readily available to anyone with a little bit of money and free to walk around unsupervised. As soon as restrictions are placed on object in demand in the marketplace the potential for a black market exists.

    Automobile registration is primarily for taxation purposes. This is not the case for firearms. The reasons proposed for firearm registrations are: 1) To keep firearms from those who are forbidden by law to own them; and 2) To solve crimes when a firearm is found and connected to a crime. Neither of these goals have been met by any firearms registration scheme ever implemented. What the registration schemes have been successfully used for is confiscation of those firearms.

    The reasons for the lack of success in meeting the proposed reasons are that a black market will always attempt to find a way around the restriction. The “annual police verification” is required to have any hope defeating the black market. But as I have shown it requires a tremendous amount of resources to implement and creates more opportunities for corruption of public officials. Those resources are always better spent on catching and punishing people that commit actual crimes against innocent victims rather than creating victimless crimes and the associated black markets. Think of prohibition and the “War on Drugs”.

  17. The AW registration scheme in California has been successful in confiscating UNREGISTERED weapons and sending people to prison. If your weapon is unregistered, it is not legal to own.

    Felons are people who commit crimes. If failing to register a gun is a crime, you are a criminal if you haven’t registered your gun. When your firearm is found (perhaps with you attached at the shooting range), you will be found committing a crime.

    The idea of annual verification is silly. The crime is committed when someone takes an unregistered gun out in public or allows their unregistered gun to be “known.”

    Just because there is no victim, doesn’t mean something isn’t a crime. Looks at speeding laws, jaywalking, etc.

  18. ubu52,

    You really need to look up Haynes v. U.S., 390 U.S. 85. No law can require convicted felons register their firearms. They can be prosecuted for possession but not for failure to register them.

    If the goal is to send people to prison then I guess you could consider it successful. But that doesn’t mean public safety has improved any more than if you put occasional recreational drug users in prison.

    So what is your desired goal with registration? Is it to put gun owners in prison or is it to improve public safety?

  19. Why would anyone expect convicted felons to register guns? They aren’t supposed to have guns!

    The purpose of gun registration is to track guns — to know who has guns (legally) and to know where the guns are (in the possession of the legal gun owner or missing). If gun registration becomes law, to not register a gun would make a person a lawbreaker (a criminal). Yes, this is for public safety.

    You guys all seem to want to say: If it wasn’t for the speeding laws, I wouldn’t be caught illegally speeding! If murder wasn’t a crime, no murderer would be a criminal! Same thing with gun registration: If registering a gun makes you a legal gun owner, not registering a gun makes you a criminal.

    Some AWs have been illegal in California since the early 1990s. People who owned legal weapons but didn’t register them can’t use them. They also can’t sell them (it’s very hard to). They also can’t tell their “friends” they have this great unregistered gun because guess what? Snitches abound when it comes to prison time. So, there were a lot of foolish people who didn’t register when they could have. Unless the USA has a civil war, those weapons will likely never see the light of day again. (http://www.gunlaw.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=95 See #6 and #4)

  20. That’s exactly what we’re saying, except that for the murder one someone actively did something to someone else–so that’s a crime. OTOH, consider speeding–as long as it doesn’t result in a car accident (property damage & possible injuries) no one is hurting anyone–so leave well enough alone. Similarly, failure to register a weapon does not, in and of itself, harm or endanger anyone so it is not a crime (though if certain legislative actions were taken it might become illegal). I don’t buy the “endangering is the same thing as a crime” bit–to me, that’s worth no more than a verbal warning of the danger & potential consequences.

    In sum, I would argue that just because something is illegal does not make it a “crime” in that sense (violating a person’s rights to life, limb, liberty, and property) and just because something is a crime does not necessarily make it illegal.

    (Except for the fact that it seems like everything is illegal. If that were indeed the case, it would be true that if it is a crime, then it is illegal. But that’s a little beside the point at hand).

  21. If it wasn’t for the speeding laws, I wouldn’t be caught illegally speeding! If murder wasn’t a crime, no murderer would be a criminal! Same thing with gun registration: If registering a gun makes you a legal gun owner, not registering a gun makes you a criminal.

    Let us look at that list. One constitutes specific and intentional harm against another human being. One constitutes a potential situation for more-serious harm to another human being, but only if certain circumstances are met, or certain failures occur. And one constitutes no harm to any other human being unless the player in question decides to break other laws already in place.

    If you cannot see the logical and semantical distinctions, there is really no point in trying to continue the conversation.

  22. Well, since we see from crime statistics that there are many more black people in jail than white people, we can tell that they’re just more dangerous. Which is why we should make being black illegal. And, of course, once being black is against the law, then anyone who is black will be a criminal.

    It’s just that simple.

    —-

    (If he comes back with an argument against this based on an amendment to the Constitution my brain might just melt from irony overload.)

    (Yes, I’m sorry I have nothing to contribute save mockery of this ubu52 character.)

  23. If you guys don’t like the speeding analogy, look at the laws against child pornography. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ceos/citizensguide_porn.html

    Who gets hurt if you “possess” or “receive” photos of a 16-year old in a sexually suggestive pose? Wouldn’t this be a victimless crime if you didn’t take the photo or send it yourself?

    And what does any of this have to do with gun registration? I’m certain gun registration passes constitutional muster since it’s been in effect in numerous US locales for decades and has gone through the court process.

    Gun registration won’t turn people into criminals. Law-abiding citizens would register their guns because it’s the law. Those who don’t give a hoot about the law won’t, but criminals have never been known to be “law-abiding.”

  24. I don’t have a problem with someone possessing or receiving a photo of a 16-year (or 2-year) old child as long as there was no actual child involved. That is, if it was entirely artificially created (computer simulation, painting, etc). As soon as there was an actual underage child in the “chain” somewhere I have a problem with it.

    This is a poor analogy because the victims are at the opposite end of chain in these two cases. In one case the victim is at the very end of the chain and in the other case they are at the beginning. When the victim is at the beginning everything that flows from there is “poisoned fruit” so to speak. This is similar to the way we treat the data the Nazis and Japanese obtained from their medical experiments on humans. We do not allow that data to be used for anything. It is poisoned fruit.

    Firearms and their possession do not became “poisoned fruit” until they are used to create a victim.

    Registration has not been tested in the courts since the Heller decision. There are lots of other cases where the courts have ruled one cannot be required to get a license to exercise a fundamental right. This precedent will result in a conflict that will ultimately appear before the Supreme Court. To say that it will pass constitutional muster because “in numerous US locales for decades and has gone through the court process” is to ignore the history of the civil rights movement for blacks. Gun owners are the ni**ers of the 21st Century and a lot of people are going to be shocked and dismayed as we reclaim our rightful status as first class citizens.

  25. Joe,

    I think “registration” would fall under the “regulated” part of 2A. Licenses and permits are required to exercise certain things under the 1st Amendment. I can’t see why 2A would be any different.

  26. Also from Heller: “Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.”

    There would be no reason for the Supreme Court to rule that the District must permit him to REGISTER HIS HANDGUN if registration itself were illegal. (And I think I just trumped you all with that!) 🙂

  27. I left plenty of time for a response here and got none.

    You know, it’s interesting that the Heller court said this: “Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home” because this presumes that not only registration is legal, but licensing is also.

    This kind of blows up the whole idea of the “enumerated right” that has no restrictions. Obviously registration and licensing must be legal under Heller or else the court would have said they were not.

    Too funny that everyone missed this.

  28. I left plenty of time for a response here and got none.

    From you, that line is borderline hilarious.

    At any rate, as I said before, there is little point in continuing the conversation with you, because you still cannot form a logical thought – Heller vs. DC was in regards to DC’s laws, not federal laws, and you are attempting to ignorantly argue Federal laws on the basis that a city is permitted to do something. This is false:

    No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary’s authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.

    Hell, arguably, DC is only able to get away with their registry because they are not a State or “any political subdivision thereof”.

    Too funny that you are unfamiliar with federal law, and attempting to lecture others on its specifics.

    Moving back a little:

    Who gets hurt if you “possess” or “receive” photos of a 16-year old in a sexually suggestive pose? Wouldn’t this be a victimless crime if you didn’t take the photo or send it yourself?

    Do you even understand what the word “victimless” means? Or is that just a buzzphrase you were taught that you are now wielding about as effectively as a wet noodle? This analogy is no more valid than your previous ones, and arguably less so; but do stop trying to find ones that fit – watching you go through the mental gynmastics and come up short is frankly painful.

    Gun registration won’t turn people into criminals. Law-abiding citizens would register their guns because it’s the law.

    Yes, it will, because no, we will not. Registration invariably leads us down a road that even you would not want to travel (I hope), and some of us are unwilling to even set foot on that path. If that makes me a “criminal”, so be it.

  29. Linoge,

    The law you point out fails to prove that gun registration is unconstitutional. It is not. US Code based on FOPA can be changed by congress at any time, just like FOPA changed the previous code based on the 1934 NFA.

  30. Goddamn.

    I am honestly in awe of how much you move the goalposts.

    First it was your obvious ignorance of the topic at hand, and what your fellow anti-rights nuts are proposing, but that got shot full of holes, so you abandoned it.

    Then it was “we would only register to keep firearms out of criminals’ hands”, but then it got pointed out to you that criminals, amusingly enough, do not have to register their firearms, lest it infringe on their Fifth-Amendment protected rights, so that got shot full of holes, so you abandoned it.

    Then it was your idiotic analogies, but those got shot full of holes, so you abandoned those.

    Then it was “laws cannot make people criminals”, and that got shot full of holes, so you abandoned that.

    Then it was “registration is not illegal“, and that just got shot full of holes, so you abandoned that.

    And now it is “registration is not unconstitutional”.

    Is there ever anything even approximating a coherent, consistent chain of thought rattling around your head, or is that too much to ask for? ‘Course, if I fielded that degree of idiocy non-stop, I would jump from topic to topic with reckless abandon, just to keep ahead of the torpedoes…

    But, hey, considering the relative lack of pre-existing jurisprudence on whether or not registration would be Constitutional, feel free to scamper about screaming your silly little head off that it was… just like plantation owners were running around screaming that slavery was Constitutional… right up until it was not. Me, I should have listened to myself way back at the beginning – until you can admit to the logical and semantical problems inherent in your original analogies (something you still have not done, but, then, you have not apologized for attacking my parents over your mis-identification of sushi, either), there is no point in engaging you directly.

  31. I moved the goalposts?

    I posted this: “I’m certain gun registration passes constitutional muster since it’s been in effect in numerous US locales for decades and has gone through the court process.”

    And this: “I think “registration” would fall under the “regulated” part of 2A. Licenses and permits are required to exercise certain things under the 1st Amendment. I can’t see why 2A would be any different.”

    And this: “Also from Heller: “Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.” There would be no reason for the Supreme Court to rule that the District must permit him to REGISTER HIS HANDGUN if registration itself were illegal.”

    And you bring up FOPA? How does FOPA relate to the constitution, Heller (Supreme Court case), and the discussion going on? California has gun registration and California is a not a federal district or a city like DC is. (It would be a US locale as a state.)

    As a side note, thank you for this typical Linoge sentence: “Me, I should have listened to myself way back at the beginning – until you can admit to the logical and semantical problems inherent in your original analogies (something you still have not done, but, then, you have not apologized for attacking my parents over your mis-identification of sushi, either), there is no point in engaging you directly.”

  32. ubu, California does not have gun registration. It only has “registration” for a few models of guns that were grandfathered into a prohibition. (A prohibition that is unconstitutional under Heller by the way)

    Why is it that you are so ignorant of the laws that we actually do have in this country while advocating for more?

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