The idea of gun confiscation is one of the most divisive issues surrounding gun owners. For opponents, it is seen as gun owners needlessly worrying about something that could never happen. They see the idea of a government coming to gather up all of the guns as nothing but an excuse to hold onto guns tighter. It is seen as fear mongering, whereas for gun owners there is a very real fear that it may happen. These fears are due to the changes and restrictions that owners must experience first hand every time a local, federal, or federal statute changes how they live their everyday life.
But how possible is the big one? Are there any grounds for these fears? Can our government truly come and take our guns from us or is it something that we are needlessly worrying about? Well, to understand this, we need to take a look into the history books.
Throughout history, there have been orders to take law-abiding citizens guns from them. That's right. This is not a fictitious idea manufactured by the firearms industry. Due to the government's perception of national urgency or imminent danger, there have been several times in our history it has happened.
Historically, these mass violations of rights have occurred during times of crisis or war. In these times U.S. troops have acted on behalf of their commanders and politicians to restrict the liberties of the people. What's more is that they actually get the masses to believe that it is for their own good.
The first time this happened in America, was a time when we weren't truly a country yet, but the principles that formed our Republic were in full effect. It was in 1775, during a time of palpable civil unrest among the colonies, that Massachusetts governor, General Thomas Gage ordered British soldiers to confiscate firearms from civilians in the interest of thwarting a rebellion. The citizens, not standing for this unjust violation of their rights and safety decided to take a stand. In doing so, they set off the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Now, you may be thinking that the prior case is different, due to the fact that it was not our American democracy in force, but rather a tyrant king at that time, but there are several more unfortunate incidents post-revolution where confiscation has occurred. In 1861, after rejecting the power of states to peacefully secede from the Union, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Confiscation Acts, thus authorizing federal troops to confiscate firearms from civilians in preparation for the upcoming invasion of the south and the beginning of the U.S. Civil War.
In 1890, during Native American “relocation” effort, U.S. troops disarmed the Lakota people “for their own safety and protection” as they were forcibly moved into their new and unwanted home. To add to the darkness, most of the Lakota tribe was massacred when a deaf Lakota man named Black Coyote refused to surrender his rifle to the federal soldiers. This was known as the massacre at Wounded Knee.
And even last century, in 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, under the preface of the attack on Pearl Harbor signed one of the most disgraceful acts in American History, rounding up Japanese citizens, confiscating weapons and property and forcing these American citizens into internment camps.
So to say that this has never happened in our history and that there is nothing but fear-mongering occurring amongst the gun lobby and industry is, as you can see, an unfortunate falsehood.
In 2005, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans became a veritable disaster area and was rife with violence and vandalism. The government’s response to the wave of crime was to launch a wholesale gun confiscation effort in the city.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared that the city was under a state of “martial law” while New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass stated “There’s a martial law declaration in place that gives us legal authority for mandatory evacuations,” Compass said. “No one will be able to be armed. We will take all weapons. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.”
Cops and National Guard units then went door-to-door to follow the orders of the mayor. More than 1,000 firearms were seized, and untold numbers of people, houses, and vehicles were searched in the process.
Recently, there was an article that we released that took a look at Attorney Generals and their power over gun laws. The results that we have seen in cases from Pennsylvania and Virginia show that immense power can be wielded by very few people with regard to gun control. In Pennsylvania, it was Maura Healey deciding herself what constituted an assault rifle. While in Virginia an overturned ruling by Mark Herring completely ridded the state of any concealed carry reciprocity from other states.
This is something that has been seen as prodding for what people can get away with regarding gun control. As I mentioned, Virginia was overturned, however, the statute in Pennsylvania remains, and the idea that this may become even more prevalent is gaining more ground.
The Potential Future
So can a situation in which a select few or even one person in our government implement policies to take guns from citizens? Historically speaking, it can happen, because it already has several times over. The main reasons for it happening are that of imminent danger or as a punishment to people the government feels are enemies of America.
It is understandable to think that a confiscation of guns may not happen, but at the same time, nobody believed that this country could round up thousands of its own citizens and place them into internment camps, completely destroying the freedoms that they came to this country to receive. The simple, and unfortunate fact is that our government can do what it wants, but it is the people who need to police the government. Which is one of the very reasons we have the second amendment in the first place.