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GHEI: ATF’s latest gun grab

September 10, 2012
The Washington Times

Agency reduces due process for seizing firearms

The Obama administration is making it easier for bureaucrats to take away guns without offering the accused any realistic due process. In a final rule published last week, the Justice Department granted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) authority to “seize and administratively forfeit property involved in controlled-substance abuses.” That means government can grab firearms and other property from someone who has never been convicted or even charged with any crime.

It’s a dangerous extension of the civil-forfeiture doctrine, a surreal legal fiction in which the seized property — not a person — is put on trial. This allows prosecutors to dispense with pesky constitutional rights, which conveniently don’t apply to inanimate objects. In this looking-glass world, the owner is effectively guilty until proved innocent and has the burden of proving otherwise. Anyone falsely accused will never see his property again unless he succeeds in an expensive uphill legal battle.

Such seizures are common in drug cases, which sometimes can ensnare people who have done nothing wrong. James Lieto found out about civil forfeiture the hard way when the FBI seized $392,000 from his business because the money was being carried by an armored-car firm he had hired that had fallen under a federal investigation. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Mr. Lietowas never accused of any crime, yet he spent thousands in legal fees to get his money back.

And now… the rest of the story. …..
One Comment leave one →
  1. Rwolf permalink
    September 10, 2012 10:33 am

    It is problematic the Obama Administration/Justice Department may next attempt to invoke restrictions (written like illegal drug civil forfeiture laws) on gun owners and their right to possess ammunition to greatly expand Civil Asset Forfeiture of not just guns and ammunition linked to (non-drug crimes) in order to forfeit other types of property linked to guns. For example, government civil forfeiture of any vehicle, home other property real or personal containing any gun alleged possessed illegally. Most Americans can’t afford legal costs to fight government civil asset forfeiture.

    In 1994 the Justice Department under Janet Reno attempted to get legislation passed that would have allowed government summary judge denying gun owners the right to due process to prove they legally owned or possessed their confiscated guns. That gun legislation included the words “premises containing illegal weapons” written like illegal drug forfeiture laws. Gun owners expressed concern the words “premises containing illegal weapons” opened the door for DOJ and police to civilly forfeit gun owners’ homes if the (premises) contained illegal guns. Had the 1994 gun legislation passed—millions of Americans would have been afraid to keep guns in their home. The Nazi Government invoked similar gun/property asset forfeiture laws so German Citizens could not defend themselves against the Reich tyrannical government.

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