On Wednesday, June 17th, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published the proposed “Driver’s License/SSN/National Identification Document” guidelines which will compel all states to comply with federal identification standards over the next two years. States that do not comply will find that their citizens will not be allowed to participate in routine, life-essential functions after the imposed federal deadline of October 1, 2000. 

The legislative basis for this rule is Section 656 (b) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. This section, titled “State-Issued Driver’s Licenses and Comparable Identification Documents,” requires Federal agencies to prohibit the use of state driver’s licenses after October 1, 2000 unless they conform to the Secretary of the Transportation’s standards. 

Part of the compliance of this section requires states to use Social Security numbers (SSN) as the unique numeric identifier. The effect of the law and the proposed DOT regulations will be to create a National ID card that will allow the government to monitor your movements and track your medical, financial, and firearm transactions. 

There are several specific concerns with this proposal: 1) The regulations violate the most fundamental principles of federalism and separation of powers, because Congress has ordered states to implement federal policy on an inherently state matter and function; 2) The regulations would further the use of the SSN as the National Unique Personal Identifier which has been consistently opposed by gun owners and the American public; 3) The DOT has grossly underestimated the cost of this program in order to avoid the $100 million cap established by the Unfunded Mandates Act; 4) While the authorizing legislation was designed to curb the flow of illegal immigration, the regulations will have virtually no impact on the problem, and yet would treat all US citizens as suspected illegal aliens; 5) This national I.D. card will be used to register gun owners despite the fact that there is no federal gun owner registration law; 6) Neither Congress nor the Clinton Administration has the constitutional authority to impose such a draconian numbering scheme upon the law-abiding American public. 

Gun owners should demand that their Congressman and U.S. Senators repeal this provision in Public Law 104-208. Congressmen Bob Barr and Ron Paul have introduced a measure H.R. 4197, the “Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act” that will do exactly that. Let’s not allow our government to number, track and electronically monitor every citizen. Such a measure is a direct threat to our most basic constitutional freedoms and the notion of limited government.