I went to the store the other day to buy some Sudefed to help relieve the pressure in my sinuses. Those of you who've bought Sudafed know the procedure. In order to buy a box of Sudafed, I had to show my driver's license to the pharmacist, then sign my name on a form. The form basically stated that I was not buying Sudafed in order to make methamphedamine.
Methampedamine, or meth as it's commonly called, is a dangerous drug that can ruin people's lives. Pseudoephedrine, the common decongestant, contains a basic ingredient of meth, and has been abused by illegal drug manufacturers to produce meth.
The federal government put meth on its controlled substance list back in 1970, and has continued to try to control its manufacture and use over the decades. In 2005, the federal government, as part of renewing the Patriot Act, controlled the sale of pseudoephedrine as another attempt to limit meth production. It limited the amount of pseudoephedrine we could buy in a given period, and required pharmacies and drug stores to keep pseudoephedrine locked away to prevent theft.
After having to register my Sudafed (with a photo ID), I was curious to see how well the federal government was doing in controlling meth production. Take a look at the graph above. Since 2005, the federal government has attempted to control the production of meth by making law-abiding citizens register when buying pseudoephedrine-based decongestants. The blue line on the graph shows the amount of meth seized by the DEA over the years. The amount seized climbs more or less steadily until 1999, due to new meth production procedures. The Comprehensive Methamphedamine Control Act (MCA) brought a modest decline in 1996. Increased implementation of the MCA in 2002, brought a significant dip in meth seizures.
Yet since the federal government required mandatory registration of pseudoephedrine users (like you and me), the production of meth has increased sharply. In 2011, levels of meth seizures was back up to the "epidemic" amounts of 2004. Even though, as the red line shows, meth labs in the US have declined, meth continues to be produced and finds its way across the US.
What does this tell us about the government's ability to "control" meth? For starters, it tells us that the federal government can and does intrude in the lives of law-abiding citizens, in order to try to control illegal activities. While you and I have to register ourselves every time we want to get some relief using a pseudoephedrine-based decongestant, meth production and distribution has continued unabated.
Federal attempts to regulate meth have intruded into the lives of law-abiding citizens with little effect on the illegal drug trade.
Which brings me to gun control. The "crises" which has precipitated the rash of gun control legislation has exactly the same ideals and methods behind government's attempts to control meth. Every single bit of proposed legislation or proposed executive power has, at its root, the ideal of limiting or registering law-abiding citizens. Everyone knows, everyone except perhaps the Truly Converted Left, that such limitations do not work. Yet millions still petition the government to "do something" about gun violence, and so the government acts, by unconstitutionally limiting gun sales to regular citizens, or by creating registration schemes to identify legal gun owners.
Just as the government attempts to control meth in the US have shown, a federal registration of gun owners will not limit illegal activity. It will not reduce gun crimes and gun violence. The only thing it will do is limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. After all, look how well the federal government has controlled meth.