Let’s return to the days of poll taxes

By Peter Hodges
After all, why not?
For those that are confused by the title, perhaps you are unfamiliar with the recent ruling in Heller vs. Washington, D. C. in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of citizens to bear arms as individuals. Furthermore, they ruled that the law in Washington, D.C. banning handguns was unconstitutional.

Washington, D. C. has responded to the court ruling with this document (pdf format, Adobe Acrobat required). There are a few requirements for exercising your constitutional rights:

You must be 21 years of age.
While I think it’s ludicrous that you can enlist in the military and be entrusted to protect our country with deadly force at the age of 18 but not be responsible enough to own a gun, I can’t really say “No” to this one. Twenty-one seems to be a good age, where responsibility might finally begin to catch up to capability.

Complete a firearms application.
No one has to apply for free speech or to practice a religion. Why should they have to “apply” to own a firearm? This is something guaranteed. The application is pointless and unnecessary.

Bring proof of residency.
See above; this is undoubtedly to satisfy the D.C. Secret Police that you are, indeed, in their jurisdiction.

Bring two passport photos, front-facing.
I’m not the one requiring registration. If you, as a municipal body are wanting to register me to own a firearm, buy a camera and an inkjet with some glossy paper. It isn’t my responsibility to pander to the bureaucratic nonsense that you’re already wasting my tax dollars on.

Be fingerprinted.
What crime has a potential registrant committed that they must go through a pre-book? Does D.C. fear the murder machines so much that have to go ahead and have half of the booking process completed before you commit a crime? Or is it that if you want to own a firearm, you’re halfway to becoming a criminal already? Again, ludicrous. Go ahead and add DNA samples and a retinal scan while you’re at it. If you’re going to be Big Brother, at least do it right.

Pass a 20-question multiple choice test.
You can’t even require someone to read to be able to vote. How, then, you can make someone pass a test (that they don’t define) to exercise their second amendment right? What exactly is on this test?

Complete a notarized firearms eligibility statement.
This one is pure nonsense–it’s just another piece of paper that creates a job for a bureaucrat in D.C. Who pays the notary? The registrant does, I’m sure.

Once you have completed all the necessary paperwork, you must pay $13 dollars per firearm to register them, plus you must pay $35 for the fingerprint processing fee. That’s a total of $48. After you do all that, we find out that semi-automatic handguns are still banned in D.C. You can own a revolver, a rifle, or a shotgun, but the shotgun must be greater than 20″ in length (eliminating a host of home defense weapons with 18″ barrels) and the rifles must not hold more than twelve rounds (or be readily converted to HOLD more than twelve rounds). That means that anything that can take a magazine that holds more than that is right out. That includes popular weapons such as the AR-15, the Ruger Mini 14, a Ruger 10-22, or a lot of the pistol caliber carbines.

I envision D.C. going back to court on this one.

To bring this full circle, I would like to point out that poll taxes were declared unconstitutional in Harper vs. Virginia Board of Elections. This case is similar in that a local government was using a “fee” as a prequisite for exercising a right guaranteed under the auspices of the constitution. Even though the rights here are different, the principle is exactly the same.

Written by our friend:
Peter Hodges
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