There's been a bunch of great posting recently on the perennial gun control argument. One thing that stands out for me this time around is (ignoring the sense of futility on the gun grabbers' side) the increasing calls for confiscation. Call it the "Australian Model" if you want to sugar coat it but it amounts to the same thing: collection of privately owned firearms by the police.
This made me wonder whether this would even be possible. It sure looks like it isn't. Let's take a look at why.
Nobody knows for sure just how many households in the USA own firearms, because there is no nation-wide registration requirement. Estimates that I've seen range from 70 million households to 90 million (or even higher). For today's thought experiment, let's take the lower number because that will make it easier for the gun grabbers. So we have 70 million houses that government will have to visit.
We know that the government will have to physically go to and search these houses because we see massive non-compliance to registration and reporting laws where they get passed (example: New York and Connecticut where non-compliance is certainly over 90% and may be over 95%). People just are not willing to line up at the local Police Station to turn in their guns. So the police would have to go house to house.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2008 there were 765,246 police officers in the United States. This is our starting point. Assume that you need to send 2 officers to search a house for firearms (this is very likely grotesquely under estimated given the expected resistance to 4th Amendment violating household searches; a man's home is his Castle and all that). This gives us 382,623 pairs of police for searches.
Assume it takes 2 hours per house to travel to the residence, search it, and write up the findings (or non-findings). Now for the math: 70 million houses divided by 382,000 pairs of police is 183 searches per police pair. At 2 hours each, this is 366 hours to complete the searches, or 9 weeks.
So the entire police force in the United States would have to take over 2 months to search for and confiscate the national stock of firearms.
But wait, it gets worse for the gun grabbers. Remember, people haven't reported the fact that they own firearms. While there are 70 million homes owning guns, the police don't know which households are in the 70 million gun owning group and which are not. The police would have to search all homes in the USA - The US Census reports that there are 118 million households in the country, so we're looking at 16 weeks (4 months) for the searches to complete.
But remember, this is every police officer in the country working full time on house to house searches. Crime would explode, and so you can't take the cops off the streets like that. Probably you couldn't devote more than 10% of the cops' time to searches, so the 16 weeks turns into 160 weeks to search everywhere.
160 weeks is 3 years. That's so long that once a house had been searched and "cleared", the owner could hide his shooting buddies' guns so that when their houses were searched, the guns were long gone. It's simply not possible to confiscate guns this way.
Notice that we don't need any speculation at all on how many gun owners might shoot at the police; 3 years of futile house to house searching simply won't do what the gun grabbers think it will.
This is just a thought experiment, of course. There are many practical issues that we haven't addressed:
- In an era of collapsing governmental legitimacy, what would police state style house to house searches do to our Republican form of government?
- How would Black Lives Matter react to such a massive police presence in minority neighborhoods?
- Just how big would police search teams have to be? It sure seems you'd need more than 2 officers.
- How many police officers would actually do this? How many would refuse, and how many would simply go through the motions to keep their job while not really looking for anything?
- The Democrat Party in 2009 controlled the White House, the House of Representatives, and had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. They didn't pass even watered down gun control then. What do they know that the gun grabbers don't?