by James O.E. Norell - Wednesday, September 30, 2015
“I want to be absolutely clear … I believe in people’s right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away. There are common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in, but I am not going to take your guns away.”
Those words—spoken in Barack Obama’s condescending faux-redneck accent—were delivered in a 2008 campaign appearance. Like so many other “absolutely clear” statements from now-President Obama, this was a lie. Want proof?
In the case of over 177,000 veterans who selflessly served their country, the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has anonymously declared them to be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms and individually subject to prosecution for owning or possessing firearms as if they were common criminals. You might think this is due to some finding that these veterans are a true danger to themselves or others, but you’d be wrong. They have done nothing more than have a fiduciary assigned to manage their benefits. If you’re a veteran who can’t handle bank accounts or cash government checks—you are now prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms.
You might wonder how this could be happening. The Gun Control Act (GCA) includes as prohibited persons those who have “been adjudicated as a mental defective.” But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has interpreted this provision to include those who can’t “manage their own affairs.” Obviously, BATFE has gone well beyond the bounds of congressional intent, or even common sense.
Under BATFE’s expansive interpretation, federal agencies like the VA are given free rein to destroy our Second Amendment-protected rights. To Obama’s VA bureaucrats, if you’re a veteran who can’t handle bank accounts or cash government checks—you are now prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms.
And let’s be clear what this means. For these instant “mental defectives,” owning a firearm is a crime, and their guns are subject to government confiscation.
The law, however, states “adjudicated,” meaning that a determination has been made before an open court proceeding where American citizens are entitled to a full defense of their liberty. But the law means nothing to Obama and his minions. In Obama’s veterans disarmament program, there is no due process.
National Rifle Association President Allan Cors calls the fate of those trapped in this “felonizing” of elderly and disabled veterans “a data-entry life sentence.”
Using BATFE’s unilateral and lawless definition of “mental defective,” the Obama Social Security Administration was reportedly working on a similar plan to transfer the names of 4.2 million Social Security recipients to the FBI prohibited persons database as well. The NRA is working with members of Congress to thwart this attack, but remember this: Foiled by Congress or the courts, this president creates executive power out of thin air.
The relentless attack by Obama administration bureaucrats represents a strategic shift for the gun-ban movement. Instead of limiting or restricting firearm ownership, government agencies are moving into the realm of massive gun bans by creating broad new classes of “prohibited persons” under federal and state law. Is it really a stretch to imagine seizures will eventually follow? If you think so, read on.
A Look Back
There are a few dots to the past that are worth connecting here.
Remember early in the Obama administration when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report that said that veterans, along with people who criticized the government or even displayed pro-Second Amendment bumper stickers, were to be eyeballed by police as potential “domestic terrorists”?
That 2009 DHS report contains a section headed “recognizing the signs of extremism,” which included this description of clues to overt domestic terrorism:
“Members of extremist groups may reveal their affiliations in a number of ways. … Specifically, extremists’ vehicles may sport bumper stickers with anti-government or pro-gun sentiments. … Additionally, officers may have seen the vehicle or its occupants at locations where extremist groups assemble.”
Remember the feds recently taking photos of license plates of ordinary Americans attending gun shows? Mesh that with the DHS “you are a domestic terrorist if …” paranoia. Now tie that in with this contemporary description by the Brady Campaign:
“Gun shows all too often provide a dangerous mix of hate-filled extremists, racist paraphernalia that inspires and attracts them, and easy access to all the guns they desire. … In essence, extremists can buy and sell all the necessary tools to carry out hate crimes—training materials along with deadly firearms. … It is no exaggeration to say that those events are a breeding ground for hate and intolerance.”
In the 2009 DHS declaration—which was ultimately withdrawn after a massive citizen protest—all sorts of ordinary Americans were tagged as potential “domestic terrorists.”
One section intoned: “Many right-wing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues including … restrictions on firearms.”
Or this: “Many right-wing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms, and in response have increased weapons and ammunition stockpiling.”
DHS called Americans’ concern over the future of the Second Amendment “a heightened level of extremist paranoia.”
Connecting More Dots
That leads us to more dots that must be connected.
In truth, the real paranoia was owned by DHS. It was designed to create a public panic to support legislation introduced by then-U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to give power to Obama’s U.S. Justice Department to declare something called “dangerous terrorist determination”—a secret edict that specifically strips individual Americans of their Second Amendment rights and any rights to due process. It would literally give the attorney general, whoever that might be, stealth power to turn citizens into instant felons.The Times said the door-to-door gun grab “is a sign that enlightened lawmakers unhindered by gun lobby scare tactics and Capitol Hill filibustering is possible in American politics.
Lautenberg’s legislation, widely embraced by the media, was titled the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009.”
As I described it then in the pages of America’s 1st Freedom, the legislation “would empower the Justice Department to secretly determine, through a totally closed process, that an individual cannot buy a gun and ultimately cannot possess firearms if he or she: ‘… is known (or appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources for terrorism.’”
At the time, the Brady Campaign published a manifesto titled “Guns and Hate” conjoined with Lautenberg’s bill. A few quotes from the Brady screed will give the flavor:
“The National Rifle Association and others in the gun lobby have for years employed inflammatory extremist and anti-government rhetoric that bears a chilly similarity to some of the language of hate groups followed by … dangerous extremists. … NRA should be aware of the ominous connection between its inflammatory rhetoric and violent acts of domestic terrorism.”
By extension, the then-leading gun-ban lobby was calling NRA members “terrorists” or charging that NRA members were providing material support for terrorists simply by exercising our First Amendment rights in criticizing and opposing government encroachment on a multitude of our civil rights.
Had Lautenberg’s awful bill been signed into law by Obama, whole classes of Americans who believe in and practice the Second Amendment might well have been secretly star-chambered into instant “terrorists,” and our guns summarily collected and destroyed.
And there are still more dots to be connected.
California And Confiscation
“Confiscation” was a term once avoided by the “gun control” crowd. With every effort to create databases of gun owners—registration, licensing, so-called “universal” background checks—they have denied the real intent.
Consider California. When it comes to “gun control,” the Golden State always represents the future envisioned by the gun-ban crowd. It is a place where every “good first step” is followed by another until the final step is a knock on the door by a swat team announcing, “We’re here to take your guns.”
A year ago, the California Legislature appropriated $24 million to fund special agents assigned to the virulent anti-Second Amendment Attorney General’s office to go house-to-house seizing guns.
A New York Times May 5, 2013, editorial headlined, “Real Gun Control From Sacramento,” says it all:
“A continent removed from Washington’s shameful resistance to new gun controls, California has just enacted a law that will speed up confiscation of firearms from an estimated 20,000 people who bought them legally but were later disqualified.” The Times said the door-to-door gun grab “is a sign that enlightened lawmakers unhindered by gun lobby scare tactics and Capitol Hill filibustering is possible in American politics.”
The Huffington Post, in a Jan. 2013 story headlined, “California Gun Confiscation Program Heralded As Model For Nation,” gushed, “California is the only U.S. state where law enforcement officials confiscate guns from the homes of individuals not legally permitted to own them.”
Remember the phrase, “from the homes,” because it’s important. The vast majority of people being disarmed are not violent street criminals who are driving California crime stats off the charts.
Perhaps the best description of the milieu these gun confiscation agents are operating in is found in a series of PBS broadcasts. A June 23, 2013, piece broadcast and published on “PBS NewsHour” saw correspondent Spencer Michels share a ride-along with the DOJ gun-collection squad.
“California, which has the country’s most comprehensive records of firearm purchases, is the only state sending agents door-to-door, confiscating legally purchased guns from people who later became barred from owning them.”In one instance, (L.A. police) told a woman that her car had been involved in a hit-and-run. Of course, she let them in to take a report.
“Agents use an automated system which compares the state’s massive database of people who have purchased guns legally with other databases that record every felony and violent misdemeanor conviction, involuntary mental illness confinement or temporary restraining order. The results can be impressive.”
“On a recent evening, we rode along as agents went to 13 residences. No guns were found. Most of the people they were looking for had moved away, some several years ago.” Residences.
In a follow-up PBS broadcast headlined “One By One, California Agents Track Down Illegally Owned Guns,” another correspondent described another ride-along:
“In a recent operation, a caravan of four unmarked trucks traversed the bedroom communities of San Francisco’s East Bay. The trucks carry nine state agents wearing bulletproof vests and armed with .40-caliber Glock pistols and Tasers. They’ll spend the next six hours looking for illegal guns, explains Special Agent Kisu Yo of the California Department of Justice.”
Residences? Homes? Bedroom communities? They are not talking about drug-saturated, high-violent-crime areas. They are talking about suburban neighborhoods.
In the earlier PBS broadcast, correspondent Michels explained the reason that generally quiet neighborhoods with “homes” are chosen:
“But it’s tricky work. Since law enforcement isn’t sure where the guns are today—many people on the list purchased their guns years ago—the agents usually don’t have the probable cause needed to obtain search warrants, so they use persuasion to gain access. If firearms are discovered that are registered to the person, an arrest can be made.” (Emphasis added.)
Seize property with no probable cause? Can’t get warrants? Does the U.S. Constitution apply in California? And where are the civil libertarians and the media?
Instead, they brag about this total lack of a constitutionally vetted judicial process. In a July 23, 2014, story, the Huffington Post matter-of-factly reports, “Because gun-confiscating agents do not obtain search warrants, their job involves convincing people to let them into their homes and hand over their guns. … If an individual does turn over a gun, he can be arrested on suspicion of illegally owning a firearm.” (Emphasis added.)
The truth is that without a warrant and no probable cause, the only way these gun confiscation cops can enter a home is if someone invites them in. And the DOJ gun cops lie to cross the threshold.
In one instance, they told a woman that her car had been involved in a hit-and-run. Of course, she let them in to take a report.
Further, if people rightfully ask for a warrant, DOJ agents sometimes threaten them with arrest. Lawyers advise to refuse a search without a warrant, say nothing and immediately call an attorney.
Often the crimes on the list are decades old. One example was a man who pleaded guilty to marijuana possession in 1970. The gun seizure agents knocked on his door and took his guns. The firearms were ultimately returned because his original charge had been reduced to a misdemeanor.
One of the DOJ special agents involved in the confiscation effort bragged, “It’s a great program. Whenever you take out one firearm off the street, you’re making a difference. But when we go out, we’re taking out five, 10, 20, 30, 40 guns, depending on the night.”
Forget The Mean Streets
Yet this is not “off the street”—this is taking guns out of Americans’ homes.
In a series of viral reports, the NRA’s Ginny Simone exposed the unconstitutional and fraudulent nature of the door-to-door confiscation effort. Featured in her broadcast is former DOJ Special Agent Greg Cameron, who says, “95 percent to 98 percent of the firearms we confiscated, I really questioned why we were confiscating them. … We would show up with way too many agents for the circumstance, and it didn’t make any sense; there was no need for it.”
Asserting that, “Armed Prohibited Persons Systems cases does absolutely nothing to curtail crime,” Cameron warned, “… there’s an intimidation factor there that makes people allow—or think that they need to allow—law enforcement into their house.”
In addition to the door-to-door warrantless seizures, California embarked on a new gun confiscation scheme in 2014 when the Legislature enacted a law under which a relative can file a complaint claiming a family member should not possess firearms because that individual might be a danger to himself or others.
What follows is an ex parte decision by a magistrate or lower court officer where the accused individual must forfeit privately owned firearms. Ex parte means the person who is about to lose his rights “temporarily” has no say, no defense and doesn’t even need to be present. In this case, a warrant is issued, and the individual must ultimately prove he should not be prohibited.
The New York Times waded in again with an Oct. 5, 2014, editorial crowing, “California Wisely Included Families in Gun Seizure Law.”
The Times says, “The California law cleverly confronts gun rights advocates whose customary response after a shooting spree is to try to get people to focus on complex mental health issues so as to divert attention from the need for gun safety legislation.”
“Cleverly confronts” gun rights advocates? How about cleverly confronting a host of constitutional protections such as the rights of citizens against unlawful search and seizure, or the right to due process? The new game plan of the gun-ban crowd has dramatically shifted. First, create massive new classes of “prohibited persons.” Then remove their firearms so they can be destroyed.
Taking Confiscation Nationwide
What is really scary about all of this is that two California U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, are pushing to expand California’s attack on civil liberties to the rest of the nation. The “Pause for Safety Act” would provide federal grants empowering states to adopt the unconstitutional California gun seizure model.
In a Boxer press release announcing the expansion of the California confiscation concept nationally, the ominous purpose was to “ensure that law enforcement makes full use of all existing state and local databases when assessing a tip, warning or request from a concerned family member or ‘other close associate.’”
So an individual—in a closed process—must forfeit firearms with no adjudication, on nothing more than a “tip.” Can Boxer and Feinstein spell K-a-n-g-a-r-o-o C-o-u-r-t?
The legislation even spells out who the tipster can be that causes a citizen to immediately lose his or her Second Amendment rights. Family member is defined as “spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent of the individual.”
And it gets even worse. A magistrate or other low-level court officer can actually depend on the unsubstantiated complaint of just about anyone. In the definition section of the bill, “close associate” means … “a dating partner, friend, co-worker or neighbor; or any other person who has a relationship with the individual so as to be concerned about the safety and well-being of the individual as determined by the state.”
By that definition, “any other person” might mean a “friend” on Facebook or someone following you on Twitter.
The result is easy to see. Anger a neighbor. Raise your voice. Offend someone over politics. Drink too much. You are subject to a star chamber in which your guilt is established and assumed by innuendo.
The gun forfeiture and seizure order is good for 30 days, after which the accused can petition for the return of the confiscated private property at a court hearing. In essence, the newly prohibited person has to prove the anonymous tipster is wrong. He or she is guilty until proven innocent.
The Pause for Safety Act of 2015 has been introduced in the house as HR 410 by U.S. Rep. Lois Capps.
Closing The Circle
All of this reconnects the dots to the Obama administration’s creation of a whole new class of criminals—veterans, Social Security recipients, and others universally declared as “mental defectives.”
The new game plan of the gun-ban crowd has dramatically shifted. First, create massive new classes of “prohibited persons.” Then remove their firearms so they can be destroyed.
All of this clarifies why former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made so-called “universal” background checks his ultimate dream. His goal, and the perhaps unwitting goal of his followers in the U.S. Congress, is to create the ultimate database—with a hundred million names and detailed information about their gun ownership.
The purpose of all of this is to replicate the California tyranny nationwide. Consequently, it is the duty of all who love freedom to do all we can to ensure that government confiscation of guns without due process doesn’t become a common practice in what is currently the freest country on earth.
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