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Gun confiscation

Cracked.com recently ran a series called “If Every Lie on the Internet Was True“, in which this picture was included:

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The lie here isn’t that government agents will actively confiscate guns, it’s that gun rights supporters say that government agents will actively confiscate guns.

Here’s the thing, outside Alex Jones and a few other conspiratorial nutjobs, no one is saying this will happen. In fact the platform people like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck enjoy is actually the reason it won’t happen. The last thing gun control and gun ban proponents want is Alex Jones and Glenn Beck having a reason to say “we tried to warn you” or “we were right all along, and you should’ve listened to us”.

The issue here is the definition of “confiscation”. Too many people think of confiscation as a person taking something from you, such as when a teacher confiscates something from a student. But like many words in the English language, “confiscate” has more than one definition. Here’s the other one (emphasis added): “to seize as forfeited to the public domain; appropriate, by way of penalty, for public use”.

Remember when word of these first hit the news (from NBC News) after the TSA changed the rules, yet again, on what passengers were allowed to carry onto the plane:

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This is also a form of government confiscation. But these fliers have no choice but to surrender these items voluntarily before being searched by DHS agents, where they would ultimately be seized if they weren’t surrendered up front. The difference between that and a firearm is failing to surrender a water bottle won’t get you sent to jail, as it’ll just be seized from you later. Failure to surrender a firearm you are no longer legally able to have within the timeframe the statute or law enforcement allows for surrender becomes possession of an illegal firearm, which is a felony.

When a firearm you own is outlawed, you have two options: surrender it to law enforcement or sell it. Sure you can try to argue in Court how the law is an ex poste facto law, but by the time that argument comes around, you’ve already lost your firearm anyway.

That is what gun right supporters mean by confiscation.

But there’s another statement that many gun rights proponents have said: “Gun registration leads to confiscation”. And this is another thing that has already been seen in recent years. Many States and jurisdictions have gun registration. After the passage of New York’s inaptly named SAFE Act declared illegal numerous firearms – along with requiring a background check to purchase ammunition or bring it into the State – law enforcement took to the gun registry to determine what registered firearms were now illegal.

Did they then go driving around to each person’s house to confiscate the now-illegal weapons? No.

Instead they sent form letters naming the firearms in question – including make, model and serial number – that were now illegal under the law and declaring that they had a certain period of time to surrender the firearm or lawfully transfer it out of the State.

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This, folks, is what “gun confiscation” looks like. Not government agents going door-to-door to seize firearms, but law enforcement sending out letters demanding people surrender firearms, transfer them out of the State, or have them permanently modified to be in compliance with some law.

And whenever you hear of “gun confiscation” from a gun rights proponent, it is this to which we are referring.

But because gun control proponents have this insatiable desire to constantly portray gun rights proponents as if we are batshit insane, they’re going to still keep using the schoolhouse definition of “confiscate” when talking about firearms.

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  • joe

    Thats funny because i have a misdemenor on my record which i was told would not affect my ability to register my ar15. I chose not to believe the hype and registered. On friday aug 15th 2014 sfate police came to my home and told me they had to take my 2000 dollar rifle, along with the 50 dollar tool in the bag the 250 dollar scope on the gun the 40 dollar trigger lock on the gun and the 100 dollar case the gun was in. I did not receive a letter, with options. I got 2 men in bullet proof vests knocks on my door and while they were very nice and agreed the didnt feel this was right i still had to give them my belongings. Say what you will but if my misdemeanor was so bad and im so incapable of owning this rifle was did the police allow me to go upstairs unaccompanied the retrieve the gun and bring it out to them?