A controversial state gun-confiscation program in California, which relies on weapons registration records to seize legal firearms from individuals deemed to be “prohibited” by politicians, is now being touted by officials, lawmakers, and anti-gun rights zealots as a potential model for a new federal scheme to disarm certain classes of citizens. While California is currently the only state with such a system in place, gun control proponents, including Democrat members of Congress, want to see similar disarmament plots nationwide — along with the government registry of weapons such a scheme would necessarily require.
Critics, though, are hitting back hard at the effort. "What California is doing underscores the threat of passing an expansion of the instant background check," Gun Owners of America (GOA) chief Larry Pratt told The New American in a phone interview. "The instant background check is gun registration — the government will not answer when we ask how they are destroying the names and addresses, as required by law, of those that have been checked. They just don't respond; 'so sue us' is kind of the attitude that they have.”
Considering that type of lawless behavior, GOA — known as America’s fiercest, non-compromising defender of gun rights — says that the push to impose a system like California’s on the entire nation should be considered an outrage. “To do anything that would facilitate what we see them already doing is really going in the wrong direction,” Pratt explained. “It's bad enough that they afflict the people of California in that way. We don't need to do that to the rest of the country."
In addition to seeking to impose the scheme on America, officials in the Golden State are still aiming to expand the size and scope of their own program by doubling the number of state agents assigned to disarming individuals who bought guns before becoming a “prohibited” person. Earlier this month, the California Senate voted overwhelmingly to spend another $24 million on the program — all paid for with funds raised from mandatory “fees” charged to register weapons required by state statute.
The controversial weapon-seizure program, known as Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), first received major national attention after an article about it appeared in Bloomberg, an anti-gun “news” service owned by billionaire anti-Second Amendment extremist and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The article, which critics blasted as standard Bloomberg anti-gun rights propaganda, explained in detail how armed government agents track and disarm gun owners.
The APPS, for now at least, targets people who — after legally purchasing and registering a gun — have supposedly lost their Second Amendment rights. Most of those individuals were either convicted of a crime, deemed to have mental-health issues, or the subject of a restraining order. However, with anti-gun rights activists constantly seeking to broaden the list of “prohibited” persons, veterans and numerous other classes of Americans are already in the crosshairs.
"They have worked to expand the list of prohibited persons consistently; this was what the fight was all about back in 2007 and 2008 when President Bush signed what we dubbed the 'Veterans Disarmament Act,'” Pratt explained. “It codified a practice that had been carried out by the Veterans Administration — sending the names of veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. Well, PTSD doesn't automatically make you a threat to yourself or anybody else, yet they were using that as a basis to bar more people than ever before from being able to legally get their hands on a gun.”
According to Pratt and other gun rights activists, that is what the proposed expansion of the instant background check system is all about — backdoor registration and, eventually, possible efforts to confiscate guns. “We're fighting some very dangerous battles," the chief of GOA added, pointing to myriad assaults on the Second Amendment being considered by Congress and pushed by the executive branch. Along with Obama, California and its politicians seem to be leading the way.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, an anti-gun Democrat, wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden urging him to help push a similar disarmament program at the federal level. “What do we do about the guns that are already in the hands of persons who, by law, are considered too dangerous to possess them?” her letter to Biden asked, touting California’s controversial program as a possible model for the whole country.
Harris, of course, is hardly alone in the crusade to impose similar schemes on the nation, which would necessarily require gun registration. Two anti-gun California Democrats in the U.S. Congress, Rep. Mike Thompson and Rep. Jackie Speier — both of whom held leadership positions on the so-called “House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force” — introduced a bill late last month known as the Armed Prohibited Persons Act (H.R. 848).
If approved, which at this point appears unlikely, the legislation would create a new Justice Department grant program to bribe states into developing and implementing gun confiscation schemes like the one used in California. “It simply gives states an incentive to develop successful programs that will keep guns out of the hands of people we all agree shouldn’t have them,” Rep. Thompson claimed in a statement announcing the bill. “It will help prevent gun violence, and it will make our schools, streets and communities safer.”
California Attorney General Harris also celebrated the bill, pointing to the Golden State’s controversial program. "California's armed and prohibited persons program is a proactive, smart, efficient tool that is taking firearms out of the hands of people who are prohibited from possessing them,” she said in a statement. “I applaud Rep. Thompson for introducing this bill that will expand efforts nationwide to take dangerous weapons from those who are prohibited by law from possessing them."
The way California’s APPS scheme works is by cross-checking gun registry databases against other state records such as criminal convictions, restraining orders, and mental health files. So, an inherent part of the program is gun registration — an idea that has always been rejected by Second Amendment advocates; especially because, throughout history, governments have almost always demanded “registration” of weapons prior to eventually seizing them.
While anti-gun Democrats in the House seek to foist a California-type gun confiscation program on the nation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is pursuing even more radical schemes in the Senate. In December, the anti-Second Amendment extremist even proposed a national gun registration program complete with fingerprints of all gun owners. Her so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” is widely expected to go down in flames as an opportunity to shore up vulnerable Democrats in pro-gun states, but it was approved by the Judiciary Committee last week.
Meanwhile, another gun-registration program — this one in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo rammed the so-called “NY SAFE Act” through the legislature in January — is also facing massive opposition. State courts are already demanding that the governor prove that the statute, which purports to require registration of semi-automatic weapons, is constitutional. Gun owners and even some lawmakers are also openly planning to defy the controversial scheme in what has been dubbed potentially the “largest act of civil disobedience in state history.”
Analysts do not expect any overt national gun-registration program to get through Congress — especially with the GOP in firm control of the House and even Democrats in the Senate distancing themselves from the scheme. However, as GOA’s Pratt explained, the instant background check may well already be in use by federal authorities to compile such records in violation of federal law and the Constitution.
While politicians in New York, California, Illinois, and now even Colorado may be willing to openly disregard their oaths of office to assault the Second Amendment, lawmakers in other states are already working on legislation to protect citizens from unconstitutional gun control measures. The Montana legislature, for example, just passed a nullification bill out of both houses. Meanwhile, sheriffs across America are standing up to the assault as well, promising to protect the rights of citizens regardless of what Obama or the federal government may attempt.
Gun rights activists say preventing an expansion of the national background check scheme should be a top priority for all supporters of the Second Amendment. If the federal government is indeed using it to unlawfully keep a registry of all weapons owners — and that seems like a very real possibility — it may just be a matter of time before law-abiding citizens find themselves on the list of “prohibited” persons. Then, like in California, a team of armed government agents can just show up at the door and demand the surrender of all firearms.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at
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