Gun rights organizations have long held that registration leads to confiscation and that such disarmament is the ultimate true goal of so-called “reasonable and common sense restrictions.” And, for just as long, proponents of those restrictions have labeled the notion “paranoid” and disparaged as irrational extremists those that embrace it.
Well, as the expression goes, “it’s not paranoia when they really are out to get you.” And calling people names or disparaging their intellect, character or state of mental health is a poor substitute for refuting their arguments or addressing their objections.
Breaking things down in simple terms, background checks on sales of firearms between private citizens – checks forced into law in Colorado in 2013 – can only be confirmed to have taken place if there is some record of a specific firearm being owned by a specific person. By definition, such a record would be registration. Keep this in mind as you read further.
Also in 2013, the state of Connecticut had its own barrage of reactionary, agenda-driven gun laws forced onto the populace despite overwhelming protest. However, these laws were far more egregious than what was passed in Colorado and included a mandate for owners of newly-categorized “assault weapons” to register their rifles by December 31, 2013. Going beyond only the firearms, owners of magazines holding more than ten rounds were also required to register their feeding devices (interesting, since such “boxes with springs” are generally not serialized or uniquely identifiable).
Only a meager percentage of estimated owners of such rifles and/or magazines, fearing the potential of facing the newly-minted felony charge, chose to register by the deadline. This inspired the Hartford Courant to run an editorial that included the following recommendation on what to do with the non-compliant gun owners:
“But the bottom line is that the state must try to enforce the law. Authorities should use the background check database as a way to find assault weapon purchasers who might not have registered those guns in compliance with the new law.”
It somewhat dilutes the label “paranoid” when you have an anti-gun newspaper insisting that law enforcement do precisely what opponents of background checks feared they would – keep data on background checks as a de facto registration to be exploited and abused at some future time.
Unfortunately for a small subset of registering owners, not all registrations were processed in a timely enough manner. Those poor souls were caught in the unfortunate position of having alerted the authorities to their possession of an “assault device” but having no way to make them legal. The result? They recently began receiving a letter advising them that they have four options – render the device inoperable; sell the device to a licensed dealer; remove it from the state; or relinquish the device to a local police station. This is almost identical to the letter received by residents of New York City after the passage of the ironically-named “SAFE Act” – and after registration rolls were searched for any make and model of gun that could take a magazine holding more than seven rounds. Of course, this shouldn’t be any surprise to residents of that city. They got the same letters after several of their registered long guns were “reclassified” in 1991.
It is sometimes argued that “it’s not really confiscation if they don’t send someone to take it.” This goes beyond disingenuous and straight to utter falsehood. Per Merriam-Webster, “confiscation” is the act of “depriving of property” by authority. Physical seizure is the most honest method of doing that but forcing someone to divest themselves of their personal property under threat of legal penalty is equally as effective – if more cowardly. And the fact is, the phrase “law-abiding gun owner” is so commonly used because most gun owners tend to, well, obey the laws. When sent a letter such as the ones described above, most owners will comply. While the “or else” is implied, confiscating authorities haven’t yet had a need to follow through (though Chicago PD’s CAGE unit is specifically charged with going to folks with expired Firearms Owner Identification cards and demanding surrender of their firearms) because they have targeted members of society who do not have criminal or rebellious tendencies.
Further complicating the issue, neither the NYC nor CT letters offer requirements for proving that the “remedial actions” have been taken or deadlines for that proof to be offered. It wouldn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to picture the recipients’ fears. Will someone be knocking on – or even down – the door? How do I prove that I sold this out of state? Could I end up a felon because I didn’t get rid of my private property – that was legal just a few weeks ago – fast enough?
And, while they aren’t Americans, our neighbors to the north are facing similar abuses and following the same patterns. On February 27, 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police unilaterally reclassified three (possibly more by now) models of rifles to “prohibited,” requiring them to be turned in before a yet-to-be-announced date. Currently, no compensation is being offered for these rifles and a provision in Canada’s gun laws allows for seized guns to be “reallocated for police use,” which comes across a lot like government stealing from its citizenry with impunity. These arms have been legally imported, sold for over a decade, not used in even a single crime…and are registered. This is how the RCMP knows where to send the letters – and the Mounties, should a citizen decide that they don’t wish to have their property “legally stolen.”
When you receive a letter from a law enforcement agency telling you that you must destroy, sell or turn in your guns, it is confiscation despite any amount of legal wordplay and weaseling. And when there is an openly documented track record of multiple government agencies accessing registration rolls to target gun owners, disbelieving assurances that “it won’t happen this time” is not irrational. In fact, expecting the same outcome is the most rational position a logical person could take.
Background checks lead to registration. Registration leads to confiscation. And it’s happening right now. This isn’t paranoia, nor is it fear mongering. This is a sober reality for citizens of the U.S. and Canada who just happen to own a gun that caught the negative attention of some bureaucrat.
As you read these words, free citizens such as yourself are pondering their futures, now threatened by the whim of politicians who believe they know best what you “should be allowed to have.” Honest adults of all classes, professions and walks of life are contemplating a choice between complying with an unjust, unfair laws and risking becoming a felon in an instant – losing their rights, jeopardizing their families’ safety and financial security, destroying their futures.
We wish the citizens of Connecticut, New York and Canada good luck in their fights and will continue to push back against this encroachment here in Colorado.