Will They Confiscate Your Guns?
John A. Sutter
decades I have heard gun owners claim that the government would never be able to
confiscate our firearms because the government would lose too many men. The implication being, of course, that gun owners would
actively resist confiscation, even to the point of shooting back.
But I believe this thinking is outdated and doesn’t align very well
with reality. But before you tell
me how big your honor guard in Hell will be when that day comes, let’s think
about how the government could really do it.
for the sake of argument, the government bans all civilian possession of
firearms at the end of this month. Congress
passes a total ban and the President cuts his own re-election throat by signing
it. Gun owners get some grace
period to turn them in, even beyond the deadline, without being charged with a
crime. If we use Australia and
Britain as examples there will still be a significant number of firearms that
are not turned in. Some estimates
put the Australian turn-in at less than 25% and the British faired only about
28%. But Australians and the British have long been used to
obeying almost every gun control law. Not so the Americans. When laws are passed
that we don’t like, we bite. We scratch. We vote.
So here we sit after the guns have been collected and the amnesties have
run out. Now what? Send
out the personnel carriers, swat and shock troops to seize the guns from those
militia “terrorists” who refused to turn them in?
Don’t be silly.
government has lots of records about you. If you purchased a firearm since 1968,
chances are that they have some record of it somewhere.
Most likely, it will take quite some time for them to compile all the
serial numbers of “surrendered” guns (surrendered essentially at gunpoint)
and cross off the ones you turned in. It’ll
take more time for them to attempt to “clean up” their data. Say, about two years, maybe three. Add to that the hordes of
people keypunching in hundreds of thousands of sales and registration records
from hundreds of gun stores forced out of business. At some point the government decides they have something
approaching a “good” database of unaccounted-for guns.
next thing you’ll get from the government is an official looking notice that
they think you still have a firearm. Their information will probably include all
the information from registration forms, right down to the serial number.
That notice will tell you that you’re in violation of the law, subject
to prosecution and imprisonment. It
will give you some period of time to surrender the gun. It will also give you a very limited number of days to return
the form with an explanation of why you don’t have the gun, any proof you
have, and your signature that the gun was lawfully disposed of. For many people the idea that the government “knows” they
didn’t turn in that pistol or rifle and they have the detailed information
about it will be enough to get them to surrender the gun. Some people will
ignore the letter, others will scrawl a note that “I sold this in 1982 in a
private sale”. After some time, the government will figure out how many guns
are still out there and what the “compliance rate” is with the gun ban. More importantly, they’ll start sorting their database by
the number of guns someone supposedly has “unaccounted”.
you think they’ll come at these multiple-gun owners with a swat team, guess
again. Their most likely tactic will be yet another letter (maybe
two more) that generate what they’ll call “insufficient responses”.
That means they can’t track a gun after you owned it. This
they’ll use as fodder for a search warrant and/or perjury charges at a later
date if they can. My guess is that
the time between April and August will be a bad time for a lot of “former”
gun owners. Remember that the BATF is an arm of the Treasury
department and they control the IRS.
You’ll probably get a notice in the mail that the IRS has some questions about
your taxes or wants to audit you. When
you make the appointment to visit the IRS they will pass that information to the
BATF. While you are sweating over
your deductions, the BATF and local police will execute a search warrant and
search your home looking for guns. With
you safely off site and distracted, essentially forced into “the royal
presence” of the IRS they will snag your guns.
Expect them to use slow-scan and ground penetrating radar to search
walls, yards, under the patio or deck, the basement, etc.
You might even find your hot tub has been drained and moved.
Yes, they’ll search your car in the IRS parking lot too.
you are one of the those people they suspect of having multiple guns and they
don’t find any guns at your home, expect them to find and search storage
facilities, safety deposit boxes and other places you might use. Warn your
relatives who live nearby that they can expect a visit too, even (or perhaps
especially) if they never owned a gun. If they are thorough, I’d expect the
government agents to check your neighbors to see which of them previously owned
a gun and perhaps search their homes, arguing that your neighbor could have held
your guns while agents searched your home. Remember that at this point
the government authorities don’t have much to fear from the general
population. And by the time your complaints are run through the mill, rejected
and turned into lawsuits, they’ll have changed the rules.
you only have one gun you say? Fine.
They won’t come looking for it. But they will make sure that possession of
ammunition is also a serious crime. Don’t leave any loose cartridges around
and where will you hide that case of ammo you rushed out to buy? Expect any
“gun parts” to be made illegal at some point in time too. Spare magazines,
maybe even old cleaning kits. Anything that says “gun” will be interpreted
as “probable cause” to search your entire home.
Also expect that you can never use that gun without becoming a serious
felon in the eyes of the government. Even
if some thug has repeatedly stabbed you with a large knife and threatened to
rape your six year old daughter, they won’t forgive you for having the gun. They may even give you extra penalties for using it to save
your family. Especially if you are
one of the first few hundred people caught this way, they will use you to “set
an example”. This will cause
people to “bury” their guns away in hiding places, making them all but
useless. If the government does
come to confiscate it, you won’t be able to get to it fast enough and they
will probably find it.
moved several times since you bought a gun?
Remember showing your ID when you bought a gun? Remember writing down
your place of birth? Why do you
think the government has so many computers?
Linking you to your new driver’s license in another state shouldn’t
be too hard. Besides, the Treasury folks know where you work. Think you’re
safe because you had unregistered guns? Think
again. I would expect that the government’s database will contain a lot of old
data. Some of it might indicate that a gun was sold to a resident
at your address. If they can tie
you to ammo sales or range use with your credit card in the previous 2 years you
might get a surprise visit. Or that
seller might have remembered you bought that gun from him and filled out his gun
notice to get “off the hook” for that gun.
point of this article is that by thinking in limited terms of a “raid” to
confiscate guns we lose sight of the alternative methods the government can use.
Put yourself in the government’s position and think of your own methods to
avoid a conflict. Meanwhile,
let’s ensure that every gun owner votes
for gun rights this year and the next.
You can think of a thousand excuses not to vote, not to help a campaign, not to
help another gun owner register to vote. I can think of one important reason to
do all of those.
& Confiscation Section