Obama Expands ATF’s Right to Seize Guns Without Due Process

From Breitbart.com, by AWR Hawkins, September 12, 2012 –

Obama has expanded civil-forfeiture rules making it permissible for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to seize weapons from citizens without the hassle of due process.

This effectively gives Attorney General Eric Holder, of Fast and Furious fame, extended power over guns and gun-related property.

The rules were broadened under the guise of giving the ATF authority “to seize and administatively forfeit property involved in controlled substance abuses.” And if that doesn’t strike you as extreme on first glance, consider the fact that this expansion of civil-forfeiture allows the ATF to forego almost all “due process” in making their seizures — in effect, placing the burden of proof on the citizen instead of federal agents.

Last year, even without these expanded powers, ATF confiscated more than 11,000 guns, and nearly four hundred of them were taken from innocent citizens. With the expanded powers and the ease of bypassing due process now in place, the number of guns confiscated could rise exponentially.

We cannot view this expansion of civil-forfeiture without remembering Obama’s May 2011 pledge to pursue gun control “under the radar.” For what could be more “under the radar” that quietly expanding federal  power to bypass due process and confiscate private citizens’ guns?

One response

  1. Senator_Blutarsky

    Civil Forfeitures really got legs during the Reagan years, as Mark Nestman chronicles –

    More than two centuries ago, when the United States first became a country, customs duties on goods entering through the nation’s ports were a primary source of revenue. Naturally, shipowners didn’t want to pay the duties. But if they didn’t pay, customs officials could confiscate their ship and all of its cargo.

    Until the mid-1980s, revenues from such “civil forfeitures” were low. Nearly all civil forfeitures resulted from seizures of vehicles and boats used to smuggle illegal drugs or other contraband across U.S. borders.

    That changed in 1984, when Congress enacted a tough anti-drug law with greatly enhanced civil forfeiture provisions. The law permitted state, local, and federal agencies to keep most or even all of the property they confiscate, or sell it to generate revenue. Congress also decreed that the government was entitled not only to the proceeds of a drug trafficking offense, but also to all property derived from, connected to or facilitating drug-related offenses.

    Two years later, in 1986, Congress enacted a strict anti-money-laundering law. The act authorized civil forfeiture of all property representing the proceeds of, involved in, or facilitating a “specified unlawful activity.” The 1986 act, in effect, expands the scope of civil forfeiture from customs and narcotics violations to violations of virtually any criminal or regulatory infraction. Violations of nearly 400 federal laws and tens of thousands of state or local laws are now considered “specified unlawful activity.”

    The legal theory behind civil forfeiture is that property – not its owner – is guilty of a crime. And, if the government alleges that your property somehow was involved in or facilitated a crime, you can lose it. Because civil forfeiture is a civil procedure, none of the protections that would apply to a criminal proceeding are in place. Your property is presumed guilty. If you can’t prove that it’s “innocent,” you can lose it. If you don’t have $20,000 or so to hire an attorney who specializes in civil forfeiture cases, you’re unlikely to ever get it back.

    The results of these legal incentives to seize property were predictable. In 2010, the Department of Justice’s “Asset Forfeiture Fund” generated more than $2.5 billion in “net forfeiture revenues.” And that figure doesn’t include billions more in civil forfeitures by state and local police authorities.

    This ghastly legacy of the totally failed ” War on Drugs ” is just another blight on any sense of honor, decency, or proper administration of justice.

    Even if you’re not a forfeiture victim, FEAR’s Web site is a great source of hard-to-find information on civil forfeiture – and an effective antidote to the avalanche of pro-forfeiture propaganda on the Internet. To learn more go to http:///www.fear.org.

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