Most gun owners don’t know exactly how many guns they own. That should not be a surprise: most mechanics couldn’t tell you how many wrenches they have, either. Guns are tools, and sometimes objects of collection, sometimes heirlooms, sometimes wall decorations. So a person might say: “We have around thirty guns” and be pretty close to right. Two-three carry pistols per family member, rimfire rifles and pistols for plinking, shotguns for defense and sport and hunting, rifles for varmints and for deer, and another for unbidden 3am guests. Oh, and that heirloom gallery rifle, and great-grandma’s purse revolver that’s so old it has no serial number. And great-grandpa’s WW2 bringbacks. “I think that’s it.” So all thirty guns get turned in to the government, right?
If that family has only an approximate idea of how many guns they have, government officials are unlikely to know the true number with any greater accuracy. If the officials are convinced that more guns are on hand than the people actually have, how are the victims to cough up the balance or prove the unprovable? During WW2, occupying armies would check local gun registries and shoot those who couldn’t produce everything listed. A gun being lost or destroyed years prior was no excuse.
Or the government record might indicate thirty and the reality is thirty six. Now the officials have to worry about a trained group of people who have a legitimate gripe and some weapons still on hand. Even if they get all guns currently owned, more may be manufactured, bought, traded or stolen from official users. As a result, they forever have to worry about competent and motivated insurgents. Historically, such problem was solved with executions or imprisonment of the newly disarmed.
With those two options, gunowners cannot afford to give up anything at all — to do otherwise would be to condemn themselves and their whole families to immediate and dire peril. Both sides know it, and government bullies dare not deal a small injury to their constituents…some hold out for the opportunity to strike big, others try to encroach by degrees. In the 1930s Europe, encroachment by degrees took several years, culminating in mass murder. In Venezuela, more recently, the transition from gun confiscation to mass murder of dissenters took only a few weeks.