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home : opinions : opinions
October 22, 2019

10/3/2019 7:30:00 AM
Our view
The confiscation of democracy, and of freedom itself

Several weeks ago, we reported on new initiatives planned by Democrats to, well, confiscate every law-abiding citizens' guns, or at least every gun they can get their hands on.

In a press conference, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers called for red-flag laws that would ratchet up government efforts to take guns from citizens who lawfully own them, all without due process; and, in yet another prong of the confiscation scheme, they would insert the government into private transactions in the sale of firearms.

Most boldly, Mr. Evers said he was open to a mandatory government gun buy-back program - in other words, confiscation served straight up.

All these measures would thrust the government into a frontier where our government has never before gone: the frontier of totalitarianism, a grim new world where the American people would swap their freedom for the promise of safety.

It's worth noting that, in the fine print of this promise, the people are supposed to surrender to the guaranteed reality of oppression before the government fulfills any promise of utopian safety. And we all know how utopias work out in the real world.

Now, at this point, some readers are bound to complain that we are engaging in doomsday hyperbole, that the Democrats are basically offering common-sense gun control ideas, and that Mr. Evers was merely saying he was open to mandatory gun buy-back programs like the kind offered by Democratic presidential contender Beto O'Rourke.

True enough about Mr. Evers, but let's take a look at how Mr. O'Rourke characterizes his proposal, as he did in a recent Democratic presidential debate: "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, we're not going to allow it to be used on fellow Americans anymore."

Given that the AR-15 is one of the most popular hunting rifles in America, it's safe to say that, if elected, Mr. O'Rourke would be coming to take our guns, as in confiscate them. After all, he emphasized the word 'take,' which, last we looked in the dictionary, means 'to confiscate.'

It's his words, not ours, and apparently Mr. Evers would be tagging right along.

So how would a mandatory buy-back scheme work? Well, the government has a list of all registered guns, so, for those guns it wants - which ultimately would be all of them - it issues a directive for you to surrender them, and the government will pay you for your trouble. If you don't offer it up, the government will fine you, and take the firearm anyway.

That raises a host of problematic questions. For one, how will the government take those firearms that citizens refuse to sell back? How will it find unregistered guns? The only thing we can think of is door-to-door confiscation, but who will do that?

Assuming that Mr. O'Rourke and Mr. Evers are too cowardly to do it themselves - and also they would be busy thinking up other ways to oppress free people - it would seem to fall to law enforcement.

But, here in Oneida County, sheriff Grady Hartman has already said his department would not participate in any such effort as long as he is sheriff, much to his credit, and we imagine the reaction will be the same in police and sheriff's departments around the country.

The military, maybe? They could try, but a volunteer citizen Army would likely be more interested in protecting the U.S. constitution than in serving totalitarian masters.

More likely it would require the kind of tactics employed in Nazi Germany when it pursued firearms' confiscation, where the paramilitary private police of the Nazi Party enforced the regime's dictates once disarmament began to drag when carried out by regular police. The regime went on to disarm, first, those who owned military-style weapons (sound familiar?), then those who did not belong to Nazi-approved political organizations, and then Jews, though there was some overlap in the chronological order.

It's also worth noting, by the way, that the first gun control laws against military-style weapons in Germany were actually passed by the liberal Weimar government that preceded the Nazi regime. The Law on the Disarmament of the People passed in 1920, which established an office to decide what weapons were "military weapons" and subject to seizure.

As with everything else, the Weimar Republic wasn't very effective in taking away peoples' guns, but what the liberals couldn't get done, their left-wing totalitarian successors, the Nazis, did. Not only that, but the "reformers" of the Weimar Republic legitimized with their laws the notion of confiscation.

So we should be very careful when we hear "liberal reformers" and U.S. progressives bellow about coming to take away our guns, whether on the national stage with current Democratic presidential contenders or on the state stage with Gov. Evers and his comrades. They are serious, and they are setting the stage for a far more radical assault on our constitutional rights.

We should be mindful, too, that confiscation can be dressed in many colorful outfits. The so-called red flag laws supported by Democrats are an attempt to take away guns from citizens before they have ever committed a crime, and without knowing if they ever would, without any probable cause or due process. It is an attack not only on the Second Amendment but on the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution.

The truth is, state law already provides for a process that would allow citizens considered likely to harm themselves or others to be deprived temporarily of their firearms under civil commitment statutes. The trick is, that process demands probable cause and guarantees due process.

The only thing red flag laws will do is strip away the need for those probable-cause demands and due-process guarantees. They are unconstitutional by definition.

Evers and his Democratic colleagues don't stop there. They would also criminalize private transfers of firearms by forcing people to get the government's approval before doing so. That includes your family members.

Hey, dear Democratic Party benevolent leaders, is it OK if I trade a gun with my brother or sister, or give one as a gift? Such nonsensical and offensive government intrusion will most certainly not save lives, and studies back up that assertion.

In the end, all these schemes do not make the country safer. How many people who illegally possess firearms will surrender them to a buyback? How many people who are inclined to make a straw purchase, or to steal a gun, will be persuaded not to do so by yet another law, when they have ignored all the laws before? How many people will be unfairly persecuted under red-flag laws?

The bottom line is, confiscation emboldens criminals, who will keep their guns, and makes the nation less free and less safe by taking them from law-abiding citizens. But the all-powerful government will be happy.

Make no mistake, when Gov. Tony Evers and his Democratic colleagues talk confiscation in code words, they are not just talking about the confiscation of firearms.

They are talking about the confiscation of our democracy, and of freedom itself.

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