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Registration Means Confiscation

Registration Means Confiscation in California & Connecticut
by Stephen Cicero

Gun owners in California and Connecticut have discovered that it really CAN happen here. Advertising has been strong here in San Diego recently, urging all owners of the SKS "Sporter" to turn them in for a $230 reimbursement before January 1, 2000. "If you own an SKS Sporter, you canít sell it and you canít shoot it. You MUST turn it in before January 1 or face criminal charges and confiscation" goes the ad which has been run on local radio stations.

This particular problem started with passage of the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act in 1989. At that time there were two available models of the SKS rifle - one with a fixed magazine, and one designed to accept a detachable magazine, the "Sporter" model.

The Roberti-Roos law banned sales of the SKS Sporter rifle, but owners of the gun were able to keep them so long as they complied with a background check and had the gun registered. Apparently, most records of long gun sales were not retained, but the Sporter was treated differently. Ownership was actually registered, and the records kept.

There was additional confusion over the SKS since there were after-market kits available to convert the unregistered fixed-magazine model to accept a detachable magazine. In response to the confusion, California passed AB48 which granted immunity to SKS owners, but also established a buyback program. As an aside, the buyback pays a higher price than that for which the rifles were originally sold!

NOW, California has a new Attorney General, a Democratic Governor, and a State Legislature also controlled by the Democrats. NOW the law is being reinterpreted, and SKS owners who acted in good faith by complying with the terms of Roberti-Roos are left holding the bag. There are also some sixty additional models of "assault rifle", outlawed since 1992, which appear on the list currently designated for confiscation!

During his run for Governor in 1997, Former Attorney General Dan Lungren reversed his own earlier decision about the SKS Sporter. Bowing to political pressure, he declared them illegal, thus demonstrating that the trust of SKS owners was misplaced.

In Connecticut, Governor John Rowland has signed a new law that allows police to seize firearms from the home of any person whom authorities believe may be CONSIDERING a criminal act. A warrant must be issued based on probable cause, and the judge issuing the warrant may consider numerous factors including threats or acts of violence, cruelty to animals, and (of course) drug or alcohol abuse. This is probably the first law in the nation that allows confiscation prior to any overt violent act.

Of course, several people have raised Constitutional questions regarding both of these developments, but here is a chilling comment from Sam Paredes, deputy director of Gun Owners of California: "When people turn in these guns and they get their vouchers, you know their name is going into a hat. Itís going to go into a database as a previous owner of an illegal assault gun and that concerns us."

The California DOJ has admitted they have records, they know who own these firearms through the registration process, and have ordered seizure and/or prosecution by law enforcement agencies throughout the State.

A flyer printed by the San Diego Libertarian Party warns that "If this trend continues we can expect that, in the future, other semi-automatic firearms will be outlawed as well. The policies could well spread state by state countrywide, outlawing semi-automatic firearms of every sort. Seizure from those who abide by the law will follow. Subsequent laws will eventually be targeted at pistols, rifles and shotguns."

Some opponents of the new Connecticut law call it the 'turn in your neighbor' law. They fear some people might attempt to use the law to try to resolve petty disputes or to impose their views about guns on their neighbors.

"The Constitution is being broken apart, piece by piece," said another opponent of the new law.

The potential here for wholesale destruction of our remaining rights is enormous. Opportunistic politicians around the country are sure to jump onto the bandwagon unless we see serious political opposition, and see it soon. Remember that this event turned on a weakness in one political party which was quickly exploited by their victorious opponents, and even if the tide turns at next election, we have lost ground which will be difficult to regain.