EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of articles on gun rights. Each addresses a common anti-gun trope.


“The government doesn’t want to take your guns away!”

This lesson is a follow-up to Lesson #831, wherein I challenged the declaration by those who favor increased gun restrictions that “No one’s trying to take your guns away, your gun rights are safe!” While it remains that there has been much positive progress in the defense and restoration of our gun rights in the past few decades, a recent event reminds us that, in the words of Wendell Phillips, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few.

Hurricane Irma, which at the time of this writing has strengthened to Category 5 power and is on a path to strike the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and eventually southern Florida, has prompted Kenneth Mapp, the governor of the US Virgin Islands, to mobilize the National Guard there. This is a proper and expected precaution in the face of a storm with 185 mph winds.

However, the order to do so includes this language:

The Adjutant General is authorized and directed to seize arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material and any other property that may be required by the military forces for the performance of this emergency mission…

What are we to make of this? Are the USVI National Guard’s 1000+ soldiers so ill-equipped as to need to steak the citizens’ guns and leave them defenseless ahead of an emergency? Or is rounding up the guns a pre-emptive action against Bad People doing Bad Things?

Lest anyone think this action is unprecedented or one-off, consider that Ray Nagin, then-mayor of New Orleans, signed a similar decree back in 2005, ahead of Hurricane Katrina, one that was halted by the courts. Congress subsequently wrote legislation that prohibited this sort of seizing in the future.

I’m presuming, here, that this legislation does not extend to the USVI. But, even if it does, getting injunctive relief in the USVI ahead of the hurricane is very unlikely to happen, and the governor’s edict will be in force for the time span that matters. While it may very well be that the USVI National Guard is indeed under-equipped to perform its mission during and after this hurricane event, that lack of preparedness in no way justifies the confiscation of arms from the citizenry (and leaving citizens unable to defend themselves in a time of extreme duress and over-extension of government authority).

The USVI already has very restrictive gun laws, with licensing requirements even for the purchase of rifles and shotguns. Thus, the government knows who has the guns and where they are, so the confiscation cannot be thwarted by simple denial of possession. Herein lies the core problem with arguments in favor of gun registration: when the government knows where all the guns are, one of the core purposes of an armed populace: a final bulwark against tyranny, is crippled. When the government knows where all the guns are, it can, with a stroke of a pen, take them away. Sure, laws stand in the way of doing so, but laws can similarly be stricken from the books. Furthermore, even in the case of unconstitutional efforts at confiscation, relief via the courts can take years, and I’d say “good luck” to anyone who wanted to get his guns back after confiscation.

Mandatory registration has been used many times in history as a precursor to full confiscation, and full confiscation has widely been recognized as a necessary precursor to the rise of dictatorial/tyrannical power. The path of gun control laws to confiscation to dictatorship to mass murder by government is evinced by the Turkey (1911), Germany (1919-1928-1938), the Soviet Union (1929), China (1935), Cambodia (1956), Guatemala (1964), Uganda (1970), and Rwanda, (1994). Registration-to-confiscation/banning has taken place in the UK, New Zealand, Canada, California, Chicago, New York City, Greece, Jamaica, Bermuda, Cuba, Afghanistan, Kenya, South Sudan, Australia, and other nations/locales.

Individual rights are easily taken away, but restored only with great difficulty. It is not in the nature of those who seek power to prioritize things that undermine that power, and it is the rare politician who stands up for rights absent a loud clamor from his constituency. Every nibble of our rights is presented as “common sense” and baselined on “what we have today is not good enough.” Every nibble quickly becomes the new baseline, and the cycle repeats if not constantly resisted. And, in the case of firearms confiscation, that which has been taken away doesn’t get given back.

Anyone who thinks that there isn’t a large number of people in America who’d happily empower the government to take all guns away from private citizens’ hands is either self-delusional or willfully ignorant. Indeed, some of our most prominent politicians (hello, Ms. Clinton?) have voiced admiration for Australia’s confiscation scheme.

Do you actually believe that politicians and restrictionists are honest when they say they don’t want to take your guns away? News flash, from the pages of the New York Times, no less: All politicians lie.

So,

Gun rights lesson #940: The government can only confiscate your guns if it knows you have them. Oppose registration laws and advocate for their repeal.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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