One of the great insights of the American Revolution is that a government’s authority derives from the consent of the governed.
The State of Connecticut passed a law saying everyone in the state must register so-called “assault” weapons and high capacity ammo magazines. Comes now the report that ten thousands of citizens in Connecticut — perhaps millions — have declined to obey. Registration schemes are plainly the first move in a game of confiscation. Many who intend not to surrender their arms are declining to register them.
This may turn out to be a very, very big deal. Failure to register a weapon in Connecticut is a class D felony. A class D felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. Despite that, gun owners in Connecticut collectively jutted their jaws and said, “Hell, no.”
How big is the problem? Connecticut estimates there are about 370,000 so-called “assault” weapons in Connecticut. Less than 50,000 have been registered. They estimate there are 2.4 million high capacity ammo magazines in the state. About 38,000 have been registered. Theoretically, Connecticut now has well over two million new felons.
You can be sure Connecticut pols see the problem just like I do. If a huge swath of the population responds with sullen defiance, the government no longer has the consent of the governed. How is it a legitimate government any more? And how do you recover that once it’s lost?
I see three options. 1) Connecticut can openly and humbly restore its legitimacy by repealing the law. 2) Officials can reduce enforcement to some low level that ruins a few people’s lives while leaving most violators untouched yet still under state threat. 3) The state can hire more SWAT teams, build way more prisons and start the crackdown.
Option 2 is most likely because the gun law was designed not to solve a problem but to make liberals feel good about themselves. Neither practicing humility nor engorging the prisons would serve that purpose, although criminalizing a bunch of rightwingers would. And if a few of them get busted, well, that’s the price one pays.
One problem: Reducing enforcement to a level that prevents serious conflict is claiming victory while hoisting a white flag. It’s like one of those dreams where you show up at work buck nekkid and nobody notices.
As Drudge says, “Developing…”