Registration Means Confiscation
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 can’t sell it and you
can’t 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
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. It’s going to
go into a database as a previous owner of an illegal assault gun and that concerns
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
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.