Registration papers, please

Is there anything today that doesn’t come with a long trail of paperwork, data files, hidden cookies, and attendant malware? Every product that costs more than pocket change comes with forms to fill out and return to the manufacturer on the promise of an extended warranty, and anything I sign up for on-line wants an e-mail address included — only for messages from the creators that they promise me I’ll be interested in receiving, of course. And my current state of residence has decided that when I renew my driver’s license, yet another piece of documentation in my life, to be granted the benefits of Real ID ©, I’ll need a stack of other official papers to verify that I am who I say I am. Fortunately, I don’t feel myself to be some gender other than what those papers currently say I am, or I’d have to go through a lot more hassle — as tempting as it would be to insist that I be labeled “pissed as fuck” on the little plastic card that the government demands that I present from time to time.

To exercise the right to participate in the leadership of my society, I have to identify myself at the polling station — the station that recently got moved without anyone asking me about the matter. I do live in a blue splotch in a red state, if that has anything to do with it. So far, I’ve only had to show my voter registration card, a card that I received after filling out a form and signing my name as an oath on it. What harassment may come in the future is anyone’s guess. But if I’m willing to hand over information about myself to cast a ballot, why do I oppose having to give the same or some other level of government a list of the firearms that I own?

For one thing, firearms registries are not currently the law in my state or on the federal level. It’s a good rule not to give up willingly what hasn’t been asked of you so far. Yes, there are laws requiring the listing of some guns in some states, and the gun control freaks would love to make such things national and universal, but why let them get away with that without a fight?

If that sounds paranoid, consider voter registration. The objection that is raised to the many new laws, enacted or proposed by the Republicans, is that the purpose of such bills is to make voting more difficult, thereby keeping people they regard as undesirables from doing it. And so it is, but if I’m unwilling to let the right wing get away with curtailing a right, why would I turn around and give the left wing permission to do the same to a right that many of them despise?

I’ve said in the past that I’m not a libertarian, and I stand by that, but I do value the idea of checks, balances, and brakes on government power. I’m open-minded enough to contemplate the idea of letting anyone who shows up to the polling place on election day cast a vote on the grounds that anyone who cares enough to participate is more likely than the average person to have something to say on the matters under consideration, though I realize that this is more permissiveness than would be tolerated. At the same time, I recognize the importance of keeping some information out of the dirty little minds of bureaucrats. I’m sure that they feel the darkest urges to know what guns I have, and that’s a good enough reason to me to deny them that information.

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