Cracked.com recently ran a series called “If Every Lie on the Internet Was True“, in which this picture was included:
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”. To appropriate, by way of penalty (although not for public use). In other words, give it up or face the consequences.
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:
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 in virtually every jurisdiction in the United States.
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 rights 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.
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, with threat of arrest and prosecution if they refuse or fail to do so.
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.