California's Gun-Grabbing Einsatzgruppenby William Norman Grigg
“When you are going to take their guns,” observes Special Agent John Marsh, “they are not happy.”
“They” are California residents who have been designated as “prohibited persons” by the state’s Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS). Those individuals are said to have “lost” their rights under the Second Amendment. Marsh leads a special APPS paramilitary task force dedicated exclusively to gun confiscation.
Using gun registration lists, and drawing information out of several other databases, APPS stormtroopers “regularly sweep through California cities” to seize firearms from people the state has designated “prohibited persons,” reports the Fresno Bee. California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill that will use a $24 million surplus from firearms purchase fees to hire 36 new jackboots for the squad.
As is always the case with “gun control” initiatives, APPS does nothing to abate violent crime, because criminally inclined people do not register their firearms. California gun owners who comply with the state’s laws are subsidizing a program that is increasingly used to confiscate guns from innocent people on the whim of bureaucrats who aspire to disarm the public at large.
Speaking of the hundreds of thousands of Californians who have been classified as “prohibited persons,” California’s proto-Stalinist Attorney General (and presidential pinup) Kamala Harris insists: “They are those people who have been proven to violate the law, and present a threat to public safety.” Harris insists that proactive disarmament of “dangerous, violent individuals … is smart and efficient law enforcement.”
Harris, predictably enough, is lying through deliberate over-statement. Only a minority of “prohibited persons” are convicted criminals, and not everyone who meets that description is a felon – violent or otherwise.
A criminal conviction is not necessary for enrollment on the civilian disarmament register. All that is necessary is an official finding by the state’s Welfare bureaucracy that the gun owner is “a danger to himself or others.” This determination can come in the form of a restraining order issued ex parte in a domestic dispute, an involuntary “mental health” hold (a formal commitment proceeding is unnecessary), or conviction for a “violent” misdemeanor, including one issued for the non-crime of resisting arrest. It is estimated that at least 20 California residents are enrolled on the disarmament roster every day.
According to attorney Chuck Michel, who has represented gun owners in court, “there are 30 different ways you can be prohibited from owning a gun. Most of the people on the list aren’t a threat, and don’t even know they’re on it.”
Clad in black tactical gear and prominently displaying high-caliber weaponry, Harris’s firearms confiscation stormtroopers typically carry out raids late at night, or early in the morning. They arrive in overwhelming numbers and, without the benefit of a warrant, seek to intimidate targeted individuals into permitting searches of their property in order to confiscate any firearms that might be found. If the “prohibited persons” refuse to cooperate, the raiders will “seek a warrant and lock down the house until they get results,” explains the Bee.
Commissarina Harris clearly sees California’s gun confiscation program as a template for similar initiatives across the nation.
“California is leading the nation in a common-sense effort to protect public safety by taking guns away from dangerous, violent individuals who are prohibited by law from owning them,” boasted Harris – who speaks exclusively in collectivist boilerplate, it appears – last January. In a letter to Vice President Biden, she urged him to use APPS as a national model. To that end, California Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson has sponsored the federal Armed Prohibited Persons Act of 2013, which thus far has failed to find traction in the house.
So far, California is the only state to deploy a dedicated gun confiscation team — but it isn’t the only one to engage in pre-emptive civilian disarmament.
In 1999, the Connecticut legislature enacted a measure permitting police to confiscate firearms from any individual believed to pose “a risk of imminent personal injury to himself … or to other individuals.” All that is necessary for the seizure to occur is a sworn complaint “by any state’s attorney or assistant state’s attorney or by any two police officers to any judge of the Superior Court.” The confiscated firearms can be held for up to a year, without any criminal charges or civil action being taken against their owner. Thousands of firearms have been seized under that provision, which famously did not prevent the Sandy Hook Massacre.
In the Glorious Democratic Republic of Massachusetts, police and prosecutors didn’t even bother pretending that they were enforcing a law permitting the pre-emptive disarmament of Gregory Girard, a resident of Manchester-by-the-Sea, after his estranged wife — who appears to be a temporally displaced subject of East Germany — called health and welfare officials to report that her husband held eccentric political views. Specifically, Mr. Girard believed that martial law, complete with gun confiscation, is imminent. Since it is impermissible for people to believe that government agents will carry out paramilitary raids to confiscate firearms, a paramilitary squad was sent to Girard’s home to confiscate his firearms.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 – which was largely modeled after the German civilian disarmament measures that proved so useful to the National Socialist Regime – prohibited the sale or transfer of firearms to anyone who is “adjudicated as a mental defective” – a term that itself savors of language that was in vogue in Germany circa 1938.
Germany's "Law on the Disarmament of the People" was enacted by the liberal Weimar Republic in 1920. It was followed in 1928 by another "common-sense" firearms law that centralized enforcement of gun laws. That 1928 law was employed by the successor regime to disarm those it sought to expropriate and, eventually, to annihilate.
The "purpose" and "goal" of the German gun law, explained the Weimar government's disarmament commissar in 1928, was "to get firearms that have done so much damage from the hands of unauthorized persons" -- a statement that would be a serviceable German translation of Harris's rationale for California's APPS program.
Given that pedigree, it is appropriate to refer to Harris’s “Gun Apprehension” units as einsatzgruppen – that is, paramilitary “special task forces” that operate outside of normal legal channels.
As is true of all similarly constituted “task forces,” the purpose of the APPS einsatzgruppen is not to protect the public from violence, but rather to enforce the state’s monopoly on aggressive violence. This fact was stated with remarkable clarity by a prominent spokesman for California’s law enforcement rank-and-file: Emeryville Police Chief Ken James, who in 2012 was presented with what we’re assured is the prestigious Joe Malloy Award for his tireless campaign to disarm everybody but the state’s punitive priesthood.
“A gun is not a defensive weapon,” insisted Chief James in a press conference earlier this year. “That is a myth. A gun is an offensive weapon used to intimidate and used to show power. Police officers do not carry a gun as a defensive weapon to defend themselves or their other [sic] officers. They carry a gun in order to do their job in a safe and effective manner, and face any oppositions [sic] that we may come upon. If it was a defensive measure, why did we lose 55 officers nation-wide last year to gun violence — and unfortunately in just the two months of this year so far, we’ve lost two officers to gun violence in the State of California alone? We deal with gun violence on a daily basis.” (Emphasis added.)
The substance of what this marginally verbal embodiment of arrogant privilege said is that police deal out gun violence on a daily basis – a vision neatly embodied by Harris’s black-clad APPS einsatzgruppen, who are field-testing tactics that will soon be emulated by gun-grabbers nation-wide.
William Norman Grigg publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.
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