Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has been raising fears that expanding background checks would bring about a national gun registry, conceded Wednesday that the legislation doesn’t actually do that. But he warned that the bill would encourage future efforts to allow a registry.
Federal law prohibits the creation of a national gun registry. And the Manchin-Toomey background check legislation makes it a felony, punishable by a fine and 15 years in prison. TPM asked Cruz on Wednesday morning how the bill would lead to a registry.“I don’t disagree that on its face, the currently pending legislation does not purport to create a national gun registry,” Cruz said. But he argued that the bill wouldn’t achieve the desired results without a registry and motivate gun control supporters to push for the creation of one.
“The Department of Justice has been explicit that when you require background checks for private firearms transactions, the only way to make that effective is through a national gun registry,” he said. “So if the bill that is pending on the floor of the Senate passed, the next step in the process would be that critics would say, ‘Well this isn’t effective. We don’t know if you’re selling your firearm to someone else unless we know you have your firearm.’ And in my judgment a federal registry of firearms … would be terrible policy and would be inconsistent with the Constitution.”
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) have gone to great lengths to dispel the notion that their bill would bring about a gun registry. Both have “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association and vociferously oppose the idea. But the myth persists, and Democrats have been exasperated by its endurance.
“I believe that this legislation could lead to the creation of a national gun registry,” said Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) late Tuesday, announcing his opposition to Manchin-Toomey.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the claims of a national gun registry “nothing more than shameful scare tactics,” pointing out on the floor Wednesday morning that the Manchin-Toomey legislation “not only bans a registry, but also carries a 15 year felony sentence for any government official found storing gun records.”
This post has been updated to correct a typo in Cruz’s quote.