RPI Advisory Board Member Andrew Napolitano, speaking with Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Fox News regarding race and ethnicity questions people are required to answer to purchase a gun from a US government-licensed firearms dealer, explained that mandating answering questions on any form whatsoever violates speech and privacy rights. In short, Napolitano concludes, “It’s none of the government’s business who has guns.”
Napolitano, a former New Jersey state judge, explains that the right to keep and bear arms “is an extension of the natural right to defend yourself.”
In addition to violating privacy rights and the gun rights recognized in the Second Amendment, Napolitano details how the required completion of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) form 4473 violates the right of speech recognized in the First Amendment. Napolitano says:
This is called forced speech. The First Amendment says Congress can’t infringe speech. The courts have interpreted that to mean Congress can’t also compel you to speak. So, the government can’t say, “Hey, Hasselbeck, what’s your race, what’s your ethnicity, and why do you want that gun?” The government doesn’t have the lawful, moral authority to do that. But, yet, that is what it is trying to do with these forms.
Watch the complete interview here:
While not addressed by Napolitano explicitly in the Fox News interview, the mandated completion of ATF form 4473 also violates the Fifth Amendment-recognized right against self-incrimination by making individuals provide information about themselves to the US government in order to complete a purchase.
Additionally, the required answering of the form’s questions is a violation of the Tenth Amendment given that the Constitution nowhere delegates to the US government the power to impose the mandate.
Because of the ATF form 4473 mandate, the US government respects some constitutional rights less for a person who tries to buy a gun from a US government-licensed firearms dealer than for a person who the government alleges committed a crime. The alleged criminal can assert and often have respected through the entire criminal investigation and prosecution process the right to remain silent.
Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.