By Chip DeBlock
The idea of law enforcement officers (LEOs) or our military being ordered to take guns from law abiding U.S. citizens sounds pretty bizarre, especially in this day and age, right? When I came up with the idea for this story a month or two ago, I simply wanted to challenge every LEO to consider how he would respond should he ever be in that hypothetical situation. Some thought I should not do the story because it was a little farfetched. I must admit, until I started researching the subject, I thought it was too. What would you say if I told you that it’s already started happening and that the stage is being set for more confiscations and even arrests? Unfortunately this is true and that’s why there is a need for this story.
What’s Happened Recently
In 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, “New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Police Superintendent P. Eddie Compass unleashed a wave of confiscations with these chilling words: ‘No one will be able to be armed. We will take all weapons. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.’”1 As a result, thousands of firearms were seized from law abiding citizens without any paperwork or receipts. There is even video online showing a New Orleans police officer wrestling an elderly female to the ground in her own home in order to confiscate her firearm and evict her. This video also shows interviews of other victims whose firearms were seized by multiple agencies (including the National Guard).
The Stage Being Set
One concern from citizens is the government accessing firearm registration lists to confiscate guns from legal owners. While that in and of itself would be illegal, the concern is genuine. As one publication puts it, “To take arms from men requires men with arms. There’s no other way to do it.”2 Even though the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that a citizen’s right to bear arms is neither granted by nor dependent upon the U.S. Constitution (United States v. Cruikshank in 1876), there is renewed scrutiny on this right as well as the applicability of the 2nd and 14th Amendments. Yes, even with the Gun Control Act of 1968 and then the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. As of late, this scrutiny has been fueled by incidents such as the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Ironically, gun registration would not have prevented that massacre or many others. So what’s in store for us after Katrina and should you be concerned? Read on…
In 2010 Operation Vigilant Guard was exposed which entails the National Guard going door to door confiscating guns. “It’s an operation set up by the Federal Government to first, disarm all law abiding citizens…”3
In 2013 the state of Connecticut passed SB 1160 which bans assault weapons and magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. If someone wants to legally possess one of these banned items, they must register them. “If gun owners didn’t register their firearms or magazines prior to the December 31, 2013 deadline mandated by the legislation, their firearms will be subject to confiscation and the owners considered guilty of a felony.”4 It is estimated that there is now an additional 50,000 to 350,000 felons in Connecticut because less than 50,000 gun owners registered their firearms by the deadline. This law was upheld on 01/30/14 by Federal District Court Judge Alfred V. Covello in Shew v. Malloy. Now a gun rights organization by the name of Connecticut Carry is challenging the government to go after gun owners.
On 06/22/2015 during an interview “President Obama cited Australia’s gun laws as an example the United States should follow”.2 After a gunman killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania 1996, Australia enacted strict gun controls (outlawed semi-automatic rifles, certain categories of shotguns and implemented strict licensing and registration requirements5) and mandated participation in a gun buyback program. If the citizens did not surrender their firearms, they faced the threat of government force being used against them. Australia’s gun buyback program netted 650,000 to 1,000,000 guns. “This was, depending on the estimate, a fifth to a third of Australia’s gun stock.”5 The United States, in comparison, was estimated to have 105 million firearms (and 105 million people) in 2009 (that’s 35 times the size of Australia’s gun stock). If every law enforcement officer was tasked with the job of confiscating guns, that means every LEO (about 1 million in the U.S.) would have to seize over 100 guns.
In New York “you may only possess a handgun if you have a license, and the license lists every single handgun you own.”6 In the mid-1960s New York City Council and Mayor John Lindsay instituted long gun registration. In 1991, Mayor David Dinkins spearheaded an effort to get City Council to ban assault weapons. “After that, the New York state police used registration lists to conduct home inspections of every individual whose registered gun had been outlawed. The police were ensuring that the registered guns had been moved out of the city or already surrendered to the government.”6
The History Of Gun Confiscations In The U.S.
“Historically, these mass violations of rights have occurred during times of crisis or war. These are the situations in which troops can be most easily convinced that restricting the liberties of the people is actually for their own good. Indeed, it could happen here. And it has.”7:
In 1775 Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage ordered British soldiers to seize an arms cache held by civilian colonists (in Lexington and Concord, near Boston) in order to thwart a rebellion. Not only did the rebellious colonials resist and win, but this action sparked the American Revolutionary War.
In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Confiscation Act which authorized troops to confiscate firearms from civilians. This was done after prohibiting states from seceding from the Union and in preparation to use the military to reacquire the South.
In 1890 U.S. troops took arms from the Lakota tribe under the guise of doing so for their own safety and protection. This was done during the American Indian relocation effort and most of the tribe was killed after a deaf Lakota man refused to turn his rifle over to soldiers.
In 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt confiscated firearms and other property from thousands of Japanese Americans classified as “enemy aliens”. Afterwards these individuals were placed in concentration camps until 1945. The action used to justify this was an attack on Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii by the Japanese.
The facts presented in this article should convince every reader that the question is not IF LEOs and military personnel are going to be ordered to take guns from law abiding citizens again, but WHEN!
Dan O’Kelly is a recently retired Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) special agent and founder of the International Firearms Specialist Academy at GUNLEARN.COM.8 When I asked him to comment on this subject, O’Kelly stated:
“When I was still an active Agent, I repeatedly said that I would refuse to do so if ordered to.
On the other hand, the issue begs the question: At the point of having been ordered to do so, has the mere possession of a gun in the home by a non-prohibited person (according to the 8 categories under Title 18 U.S. Code 921) been made illegal? We certainly (I hope) would not begin to take personal property without due process of law, in violation of the 5th Amendment.
On the other hand, if mere possession has been made illegal by that point, then the guns would be as much contraband under the law, as a pipe bomb is today. If an Officer/Agent refused to take them under those circumstances, it would equate to refusal to do one’s job, and would certainly bring disciplinary action or removal. In light of that, I believe that most of those who swear that they would not do it, would grudgingly do so anyway, versus finding themselves in the unemployment line.
I can only pray that it never gets to the point that mere possession in the home is illegal. However, the last several years’ trend of people leaning to the political left so as to not appear out of style is taking us dangerously in that direction. Not seeing liberalism for the damage it does to our society is the real problem.”
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1 Alex Jones’ INFOWARS.COM
NRA: The Untold Story of Gun Confiscation after Katrina – 04/23/08
2 Bearing Arms – Guns & Patriots
Obama Dreams Of Gun Confiscation – by Bob Owens – 06/25/15
3 Patriot Newswire
Breaking! National Guard Going Door To Door Confiscating Guns! – by Timothy Tuttle – 03/10/15
Molon Labe: Connecticut’s Terrifying Start of Gun Confiscation – by Rachel Alexander – 03/10/14
5 The Federalist – Guns
The Australia Gun Control Fallacy – by Varad Mehta
The Catastrophic Consequences of Gun Registration – by Dave Kopel
7 Police State USA
What would a large-scale gun confiscation look like? – 03/08/14
8 Daniel O’Kelly, Director and Retired ATF Special Agent
International Firearms Specialist Academy
P.O. Box 338
Lake Dallas, TX 75065