The deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said this week that it was a crying shame that Washington politicians had failed to create a national database to track gun ownership in the United States. Thomas Brandon sat down for an interview with CBS’s Sunday Morning program and defended his agency against the claims of some who believe the Obama administration is out to destroy the right to bear arms.

“Public safety is the reason we exist; it’s not to take people’s guns,” said Brandon. “It’s to regulate firearms that can be misused. You know, we’re a small agency with a big job.”

Brandon said that job could be made easier if ATF officials had a searchable database of gun sales. Under current law, the development of such a database is prohibited. Critics say that a national gun registry could easily be the first step on the long road to widespread confiscation. Brandon, however, said that such opposition simply didn’t make sense.

“But there’s a lot of things that don’t make sense in this town, you know?” he joked. “And so yeah, would it be efficient and effective? Absolutely. Would the taxpayers benefit with public safety? Absolutely. Are we allowed to do it? No.”

No, not yet, and there’s plenty of logical sense behind it. A computerized database of the sort Brandon is asking for would give liberal lawmakers all the tools they need to begin slowly chipping away at the Second Amendment. Gun ownership would gradually morph from a right into a privilege, and our freedom to defend ourselves would be subject to the whims of whichever political party happened to be in power at the time. In other countries, the creation of such a database has preceded forcible confiscation and the erosion of individual rights. Those countries didn’t have the protection of the Second Amendment, of course, but many Democrats believe that our right to bear arms does not mean what most people think it means. If they ever get a Supreme Court decision that codifies this belief into law, only military personnel would be granted the right to carry firearms. Everyone else’s rights would be up in the air.

Like the vast majority of liberal gun control proposals, a national database would have little to no effect on the rates of violent gun crime. Legal gun owners are responsible for only a tiny sliver of these crimes; the rest are carried out by criminals using stolen weaponry or guns purchased on the black market. Therefore, a registry would penalize Americans who obey the law and do nothing about those who don’t. It’s needless, dangerous, and it’s an expensive distraction from the solutions that might actually work.