Saturday, January 2, 2016
In preparation for more anti-gun measures . . .
. . . Mr. B. discusses some interesting options for those who are concerned about possible attempts to confiscate their firearms. I urge you to click over there and read his thoughts for yourself. I suspect more than a few people have already done something similar. I hope they've all taken steps to ensure that their storage containers are weatherproof and watertight, and that the same applies to any ammunition and accessories they may have stashed.
As pure speculation, for informational purposes only, let's take a look at what might be involved if attempts are made to confiscate firearms.
The problem, of course, is that too many people think that storing a gun or two with friends, in an unmarked container in their garage or something like that, is sufficient to conceal its existence. It isn't, because the kind of friends that'll agree to do something like that (often in exchange for someone doing the same for them) are also the kind of friends who will probably be on the radar of those looking to confiscate firearms. If so, they're going to be getting a visit as well.
Even if no search warrant is involved, if an ATF or FBI agent asks any question and you lie in response, you're in trouble, because you've made a false statement. That's a criminal offense, right there. It's what put Martha Stewart in jail. (Your answer should always be, "I won't answer any questions except in the presence and on the advice of my lawyer." If necessary, your lawyer may advise you to plead the Fifth Amendment. Do so. That's what it's there for - and the exercise of a constitutional right can't be held against you.) Any denial will also be disproved if the authorities search for (with or without a warrant) and find the firearms in question. That's where Mr. B's advice might come in very useful (provided you own some remote property that can be used for the purpose).
Many firearm owners have already taken steps to 'anonymize' their primary battery. They've traded for guns on the used market, where background checks and paperwork are non-existent; or they've taken part in 'swap meets', where owners of similar firearms exchange their weapons so that each now has a gun that isn't 'papered' to his name. I know several who've done the latter multiple times, to confuse the trail even further. That way, if anyone says "You filled out this Form 4473 in 2012 when you bought this gun. Where is it?", you can answer, completely truthfully, "I sold it" or "I traded it". That's entirely legal, and there's no law (at present) requiring you to keep records of who you sold or traded it to, so if you can't remember the other party's name, that can't be held against you (although I'm sure the authorities will try to find a way to do so). The next question may be, "What guns have you bought, or do you own, that were acquired through private trading?" You'll have to figure out how to answer that without 'making a false statement'. If all your trading was during a period when it wasn't legally required to keep records of such purchases, a simple 'I can't remember' will probably suffice. After all, if it's good enough for Hillary Clinton, even under oath, why shouldn't it be good enough for you? (And don't be afraid to say that, either, if challenged!)
Remember that if any gun confiscation effort gains serious traction, the authorities will be looking for circumstantial evidence. If they find enough of it, they can use it to build a convincing case against you. Have you bought magazines for an AR-15 rifle from an online vendor? They'll have a record of the transaction - just as Amazon.com has a record of everything you've ever bought from them - and that will indicate you probably own a rifle that uses those magazines. (Yes, I know, you "bought them as a present for a friend" . . . but if you've bought such magazines more than once, or in large quantities, that's not going to be a very convincing explanation!) The same goes for online ammunition purchases. You bought a thousand rounds of 5.56x45mm. ball? What for? Surely not for your bolt-action varmint rifle? (If you have one of the latter, that might help to make your case; but if you don't, don't use that excuse!) If you've bought containers designed to be buried, such as the Mono Vault, that's also going to cause questions to be asked. "Why did you buy this? What did you put in it? Where is it now?" You can make your own containers out of PVC plumber's pipe and fittings, which is a lot more anonymous.
Some argue that because, under federal law, the part designated as a 'firearm' is the receiver of the gun (which is the only part required to have a serial number), they can surrender that, but strip off all the other components and keep them. (This is particularly tempting because one can buy 80%-complete receivers and finish the machining operations oneself - such parts aren't legally classified as firearms and don't carry a serial number. When they've been completed, the parts from another gun can be installed to make them fully functional firearms.) However, there's a catch. If the authorities want to confiscate guns, they may pass a law requiring that receivers plus all parts required to make them functioning firearms must be surrendered. The anti-gunners aren't stupid. If you hand in a receiver without any other parts, you're going to be asked some hard questions. One might therefore be better advised to buy the parts one needs to complete a firearm from other sources. (If one person buys a number of parts on behalf of friends, that might be useful, too. He can quite legitimately say that he bought them on behalf of a group of people who were building guns for themselves. Who were they? Well, the group was just an informal gathering of people he met at the range, and broke up after a few weeks. No, he doesn't remember their names . . . He, of course, will hand over any gun he built using those parts. He'll have others, I'm sure, using parts bought by friends and not 'papered' to him.)
I know a few individuals who own what they refer to as 'sacrifice guns', sometimes stored in a relatively visible 'sacrifice gun safe'. The primary purpose is to attract thieves who might break into their homes. They're likely to go for the 'easy target' of the highly visible gun safe (which will have a few cheap guns inside it, usually deliberately rendered inoperable), and not waste their time looking for something that's better hidden. However, if guns of a certain type are banned, the 'sacrifice guns' (possibly including a few more expensive, working examples) can be surrendered. They're usually 'papered' to the owner, so there's no point in trying to deny their existence. That's not to say those are all the guns that they own, of course. There may be value in such an approach.
Finally, don't brag in a public forum about what firearms you own, or how many you own. People are listening. There are those who'll talk, either willingly or unwillingly. It's a standard law enforcement tactic to catch someone doing something wrong, then offer to 'go easy' on them if they'll give you information that'll help you catch a 'bigger fish'. If they catch Joe Blow with a single 'illegal' firearm, and offer to let him go with a warning if he'll rat out his friends who have more guns than he does, the odds are pretty good that he'll co-operate, particularly if he has a family that can't cope without his support. That will hang you out to dry. In the same way, blog posts, forum comments, etc. can and will be used against you.
If you're widely known (as I am) to be a firearms owner and enthusiast, there's no point in trying to conceal the fact. If the authorities come for your guns, I suggest you simply open your safe and let them take what they want from what they find inside. I'm certainly not advocating criminal conduct, you understand. This entire discussion has been speculative in nature, for information only, as we said at the beginning.