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Did you know that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) has the power to seize and “administratively forfeit” property involved in suspected drug offenses? Neither did I. “[U.S. Attorney General Eric] Holder temporarily delegated this authority to the ATF on a trial basis in 2013,” cato.org reports, “and today made the delegation permanent while lauding the ATF for seizing more than $19.3 million from Americans during the trial period.” Wait. Can he do that? The Department of Justice certainly (and obviously) thinks so . . .

The DOJ claims this rule change doesn’t affect individual rights (and was thus exempt from the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act) and that the change is simply an effort to streamline the federal government’s forfeiture process.  Those who now stand more likely to have their property taken without even a criminal charge may beg to differ.

Further, the department claims that forcing the ATF to go through a judicial process in order to seize property requires too much time and money.  Whereas an “uncontested administrative forfeiture can be perfected in 60-90 days for minimal cost […] the costs associated with judicial forfeiture can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars and the judicial process generally can take anywhere from 6 months to years.” In other words, affording judicial process to Americans suspected of engaging in criminal activity takes too long and costs too much.

Same goes for the process of recovering the booty. This does not bode well for gun owners who may have a bit of weed on them if and when the ATF comes a-calling re: a firearms offense. [Pro-tip: don’t hide a joint in your PDW brace.) Meanwhile, Cato is not happy.

At a time when Attorney General Holder himself has acknowledged the need for asset forfeiture reform, the authorization to take the property of American citizens should be shrinking, not expanding. A country that spoke itself into existence with assertions of the rights to life, liberty, and property can ill afford yet another government agency with the power to seize your property without so much as a criminal charge.

If a Republican takes the White House in 2016, Mister or Madame President should spike the ATF ASAP IMHO. These are the jack-booted thugs the NRA’s been warning you about. [h/t RA]

105 Responses to AG Holder Gives ATF Power to Confiscate Property

  1. Jack booted thugs indeed!

    When are these so called officials going to be held in contempt for their blatant disregard for the constitutionand their oath of office? Whats next? Their working on the second and fourth and they can’t wait to sack the third amendment so they can just move in and watch you at all times. slippery slope indeed…

    • Wrong. Skimming these links, most of the references go back only to 2010, some to 2006 and 2004. In fairness, I did see one dated 1995, but that one didn’t make the warning which you allege. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. From that 1995 article “ATF Under Siege”:

      “The ATF may be the most hated federal agency in America today, surpassing even the IRS in its notoriety. Gun-rights advocates have demonized the agency as a dark legion of storm troopers who trample the rights of ordinary citizens. Critics have gone so far as to compare its treatment of gun owners to Nazi persecution of Jews during World War II. In a best-selling book published last year, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association described ATF’s disastrous raid at Waco, which began the 51-day siege that ended in conflagration, as ‘reminiscent of the standoff at the Warsaw ghetto.’ The bureau is not the jackbooted monolith of N.R.A. lore, however. Far from it [….]”

      It was the NRA which famously labeled the feds as jackbooted thugs. It was the NRA whose giant microphone spread that message, not the JPFO. The JPFO initially disagreed with the NRA’s assessment and only eventually, belatedly, by a decade+, apparently came around to agree with the NRA.

      Hey, welcome to the tribe, I say, howsoever late JPFO finally arrived; but let’s not rewrite history and cast JPFO as the leader in this regard.

      • I didn’t re-up with the NRA in the 1990s because they have been complicit with gun control measures. Too many NRA reps complaining about us calling BATFE out as “jack-booted thugs.” I was there. It was disgusting.

        I would rather have the NRA than not have the NRA. I don’t fault anyone for supporting the NRA. However, I know what I know from experience.

      • I owe you an apology. I did some fact checking with some others of the day and it seems like the NRA was probably first of the organizations to use the term. In the late 1980s and early 1990s it was common for us to use such terms for the ATF and one could hear it on shortwave. It seems time has clouded my memory. Mea culpa.

      • The NRA did not label the ATF as jack booted thugs. It was Democratic Congressman John Dingell. The NRA just repeated what he said in fund raising letters.

  2. So its cheaper and faster for the government to just take your stuff and ignore due process. That’s all the justification I need. Go ATF Go!

      • some part of me believes that the only way to slow down big government is increase the money they have to spend while flouting their unconstitutional powers to the point where we can have a revolt based on excessive taxation. That is what it took last time around.

        disclaimer: this may also be the Bacardi and Rockstar speaking. past a certain point, it is hard to tell.

        • I hope a revolt is not the answer, but sadly, our options seem to diminish with each passing day.

          Unrelated: I will have to try this Bacardi and Rockstar concoction you speak of. Sounds promising.

        • I subscribe to the “boil the frog fast so it jumps out of the pot” theory. I think that the slow erosion of individual liberties allows for a new normal to establish itself. Each round of tyranny is judged based upon the last new normal. ‘Tis better to let the chef turn the heat all the way up so the frog realizes he is being boiled alive. Maybe he will jump and maybe he won’t. But, rest assured that if it is a slow increase, he will never jump and shall be boiled alive.

    • Immediate confiscation isn’t “cheaper” it is a Profit Center! It is akin to a Tax on the drug trade and backdoor to bigger revenues through the pretext of “because drugs”. This is the same Eric Holder that is giving Connecticut a pass on breaking federal law on “Medical Marijuana”, which as implemented is not so much about getting medical marijuana to people that would benefit because of health reasons as a revenue generation scheme.

      DEA has been using the license plate scanning technology to assist in confiscation of property. Confiscation could be the largest growing segment of government next to Military Drones, if there was transparency on what the financials were /sarc.
      Ref:
      http://pando.com/2015/01/27/the-dea-is-collecting-information-about-millions-of-americans-without-public-oversight/

  3. Well, I guess if they really have their hearts set on confiscation, they can start with the weapons they gave to the cartels.

  4. So, if you live in a state that has legalized weed, and ATF comes calling….and they find your stash of weed, you can say goodby to your gun collection – and whatever else they want to grab. Maybe your car, your house, and your cash, too. Good luck getting it back!

    If any of this sounds familiar, remember the KGB? Stasi? Gestapo?

    As Yakov Smirnoff likes to say, “What a country!”

  5. “administratively forfeit” property involved in suspected drug offenses?

    Suspected crimes? Sooooo due process is where?

  6. I saw where one state, I forget which one, just passed a law prohibiting the state from committing any resources to enforce new federal gun regulations that violate the state constitution’s RTKABA. I wonder if this would count. BAFTE has only about 2,000 sworn agents and they have to cover alcohol, tobacco and explosives as well as firearms. States can’t overrule a federal law, but they can refuse to help and I doubt BAFTE could get a lot done with the state and locals.

    • States can overrule any federal law whenever they get their act together and do so.

      To begin with, simply ignore it! They are INCOMPETENT! It may be decades before they even notice your noncompliance!

    • You might be talking about Prop 122 in Arizona, “Arizona Rejection of Unconstitutional Federal Actions Amendment” which was actually an amendment to the State Constitution. The measure was actually a response to several specific issues that came up as a result of encroaching Federal authority (both real and perceived). One was an issue where Tombstone water line was cut off during a summer fire, and the efforts to restore the line was slow and costly due to requirements from the 1964 Wilderness Act, because part of the line snaked through a Federally “protected” wildlife area. Another case involved the now defunct state child welfare service agency, that did not or could not release information regarding it’s failed cases, even if the case resulted in a child’s death. This was apparently due to a litany of both State and Federal laws. The measure passed in the last election by the voters, but was opposed largely by the Democrats and supported mostly by the Republicans.

  7. I dunno why this sorta thing is a surprise to anyone anymore; this regime, and by “this regime” I mean not just Obola’s, but also his predecessors’ regimes, simply do whatever they want. The Constitution has been birdcage liner here since the aristocrats cooked it up in the secret proceedings of that famous Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. The anti-Federalists were thrown a crumb with the Bill of Rights, but that’s now birdcage liner, too.

    These people rule by dictatorial fiat, while pretending to a democratic fig leaf, and we have seen the results in our history many, many times by now. It behooves an acquaintance with U.S. history as it existed prior to one’s birth, for instance, but most Americans haven’t got a clue.

    So now we see they can not only ban ammo when they feel like it, they can also cook up or rely on what informants and spies have cooked up, “evidence” of drugs at a property and just go ahead and seize it forthwith. Our various “law enforcement” organizations have been doing this for decades and no one noticed? You see, when they suspend constitutional protections to go after the big bad dope dealer, they’ll also suspend it just as fast in your case when they decide to come after YOU.

    It should be quite entertaining in this country over the next few years, as the regime tries to figure out what to do with a country of 330-million people, third-largest in the world, after China and India, by the way, and anywhere from half a billion to a billion firearms. Many of whom are trained and experienced veterans of the various wars the country has fought, roughly for all but a handful of years during its entire history. To protect our freedom and liberty, of course.

  8. I would like to take this opportunity to semi-publicly apologize to everyone in the past that I have debated over the issue of drug legalization. I have “evolved” on this issue. No F that, I was flat out wrong. The drug war is a complete waste of humanity. This change of heart and mind is still not going to make me pledge Libertarian. This article and past debates had nothing to do with my enlightenment. I watched a video from VICE News called “Guns In Puerto Rico: Locked And Loaded In The Tropics”.
    http://youtu.be/47gxjk6U5CQ
    Bottom line: Freedom is and Freedom isn’t.

    • The drug war is a complete waste of humanity. Oh, it is more than that; it is a giant waste of money and resources. The War on Drugs has also lead to lots of Government Incrementalism and loss of Liberties.

      • I have to respectfully disagree. I don’t actually care about the drugs themselves and I also am also against the loss of liberty. And I’m not talking about marijuana. But the so-called drug trade is not about drugs. It is about smuggling contraband and lots of other organized crime. Drugs are just the current line of business.

        Legalize drugs? You will have an illegal, ruthless supply chain looking to replace that lost business with something and quick. Might be human trafficking, terrorism for hire, whatever. We will be having to hunt down the same people for something else the day after drugs are legalized. And it will probably be something worse.

        • The important part is that you will no longer be putting people into jail for victimless crimes (like deciding what to put in their own body). That alone should be sufficient to be for legalization, that it also disrupts drug cartels is icing on a cake.

          And yes, they won’t go away, obviously, but it’s also not true that it’ll be the same but with something else. They really did expand in the era of drug prohibition (and before that, alcohol prohibition) because of the sheer demand. If you don’t ban things that millions of people want, criminal organizations will still find something to trade in, but that something will be much more low key, and their revenue stream (and hence scale) will be that much smaller.

    • The reporter calls PR “an island nation.” Did they declare independence and I missed it, or did the reporter not do his homework?

    • Welcome aboard. 40 years of massive expenditures and imprisonments, lives ruined and criminal cartels empowered, and today you can buy any drug you want on any streetcorner in America. Why are we pretending to do this, it is our money that makes the smuggling happen, that makes the murders happen, that gives the power to the cartels. Everybody just quit buying drugs and it is over. Until that happens we will NEVER stop drugs, we need to stop trying.

      • There it is. The War on Some Drugs. When we all know full well that alcohol and nicotine do far more damage to us on a geometric order of magnitude. But the war goes on anyway. Cui bono? That’s all we have to ask. Who makes out from this?

        And just as that war will never end unless we stop buying the chit, so the other wars will never end until we quit signing up for them. When I bring this up, though, at the vets combat group I’m part of at the VA up here, I get dead silence, crickets. They don’t wanna hear that.

        So let’s keep buying dope and signing up for the banking and oil company wars and being told we’re all heroes, soldiers and cops, all heroes. I’ve done both gigs in my time and I’m pretty far from being any kind of hero.

        • ” When we all know full well that alcohol and nicotine do far more damage to us on a geometric order of magnitude.”

          David, when I read that, I got the picture you think I am talking about pot only. Heroin is certainly more damaging than tobacco, never mind meth. But I am talking about ALL illegal drugs, the ones you can have in your hand in 15 minutes from a standing start most anywhere in the country, given money and transport. We have lost the “war” decades back, why are we adding to the misery by putting the victims in jail?

        • I realize you’re not talking about pot only; I’m familiar with the whole War on Some Drugs from both sides of the legal border over several decades, and with the toll of alcohol damage in this country likewise. Firsthand.

          I agree with you, in fact; it’s a lost war, and most of the peeps in jails and prisons are nonviolent offenders and don’t belong there at all. But it’s a big industry now, and it has heavy hitters batting for it.

          We need to end it and get Our Nanny the Almighty State out of it as they’ve botched it badly, like so much else they’ve meddled in. But hell, what am I saying; Our Nanny just got the green light to regulate the net like any other public utility. What could possibly go wrong?

  9. Gee I knew they could do whatever the hejj they wanted to. And why isn’t holder in prison? Please don’t expect the “war on drugs” republitards to rescue anyone. Molan Labe.

  10. We won’t get anywhere unless this is made a campaign issue; odds are an establishment candidate in either party. Unless we force the republicans to roll this back by threatening to vote for Nader or sit out the election nothing will be done.

  11. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep apologizing for it; but I should have kicked his butt off the platform, in front of a subway train, when we were in high school. What can I say; hindsight is 20-20.

  12. Drugs and terrorism. The boogeymen that are the catalyst of stripping our rights and freedoms today and the near future.

    Oh, but surely it won’t happen to me so therefore I have nothing to worry about!

        • Right, because “invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity” is totally in line with the 1st Amendment.

          She has said tons of things that are clearly anti-freedom, especially when it comes how she’d like to treat her political opponents. No thanks.

        • Christian theocracy

          Please stop parroting your leftist indoctrination.

          The stupidity of it is just astounding.
          The level of Christianity of this country has been a continuous downhill slope since July 1776 and then fell off a cliff in the 1960’s.

          Stop being an idiot.

        • Congratulations on not only being ignorant of history but also lacking in such substance that you have to resort to ad hominem personal attacks.

          Religiousness has been a rollercoaster in the us, most notably the “Great Awakenings”. The idea that it has been a steady decline or that people in the past were always very religious is just rosy retrospection.

          Further, in the 1980s, religious hard-right wingers took power in the GOP and have turned it from being a truly conservative party into the theocratic-leaning mess it is today.

          Of course it’s far easier to label me names than it is to confront history and facts. Traits more suiting to a member of MDA or Bloomberg than a pro-2A supporter.

        • Grindstone – we got it. Several times. You worship yourself, your stinky left shoe, your Doberman, green rocks, whatever. Free country. Get over yourself.

          There are bigger issues at play than your bigoted (and moronic) libtardish prejudices. Perhaps you’d be happier at mediamatters.com

        • If she did not support theocracy, YOU would not know or care whether she was a christian or not. Try introspection, here.

          And as opposed to worshipping a stinky shoe, you would have us worship an invisible space alien child raper, correct?

        • neiowa – I see not stepping in line with the echo chamber upsets you. I worship nothing and I don’t see how that is relevant to the conversation at all. You have contributed nothing. Perhaps you’d be happier over at moms demand action? Since you like to be ignorant and call people names.

          LarryinTX – I don’t care if she’s Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Asatru, Pastafarian, whatever. What I care about is revisionism and the enshrinement of religion, any religion, within government. I wouldn’t have you worship anything because your religion is your business. I don’t see how that’s an alien concept.

          But that is all beside the point. The point is I do not care for Ann Coulter because she does nothing but use trashy rhetoric to appeal to social conservative right-wingers.

        • “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine” – Ann Coulter

          Such a champion of rights and freedoms she is.

        • She’s right, though; women tend to vote for the Evil Half of the War Party, and men tend to vote for the Stupid Half.

          Case in point: if HILLARY!, a.k.a. The Heroine of Tripoli and Benghazi, a.k.a. Lady MacBeth of Little Rock, a.k.a. Field Marshal Rodham, runs for Prez, she has the American woman vote LOCKED UP, period. Regardless of any horrific baggage she’s toting from her chiseling, mean-spirited, nasty life on the planet thus far.

          I’d give it right back to Coulter; if we took away the mens’ vote in this country we’d never again elect a RINO p.o.s. or Pee Party buffoon ever again.

          And if we just quit voting entirely, we’d no longer validate their depredations and violations while they laugh at us for believing in their charade.

        • She is right. And as a woman, she could say that. For you to claim that proves she is anti voter rights only proves that you have no comprehension of the English language delivered in a creative fashion.

          She could have just said “more women support Democrats”. But is that interesting?

          It is a perverse reach to say her comments are in actual support for barring women from voting.

      • And I completely left out the irony of her saying that ISIS isn’t a threat yet fully supported the war in Iraq, not to mention her support of the “war on drugs”. Did I say irony? I should’ve said hypocrisy. I’ll give this to her, she knows how to exploit her audience to remain relevant and make money.

  13. The real quote, not the myth.

    Der größte Unsinn, den man in den besetzen Ostgebieten machen könnte, sei der, den unterworfenen Völkern Waffen zu geben. Die Geschicte lehre, daß alle Herrenvölker untergegangen seien, nachdem sie den von ihnen unterworfenen Volkern Waffen bewilligt hatten.

    The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so

    Adolf Hitler, 1942
    Tischegesprache Im Fuhrerhauptquartier
    Hitler’s Table-Talk at the Fuhrer’s Headquarters
    Leader of German Socialism

  14. I admit I did not peruse the other posts, but really … Eric Holder thinks he has the authority to declare such a thing? Without even invoking the authority of that other moron with the identical qualifications that he has? No one who has legitimately passed 12th grade could possibly think this was constitutional, who is running this country?

  15. Old news. The states and countys here have been doing it for YEARS. The USG just want’s their CUT. If they do take your $$$ you’ll never see it again. Awhile back a guy was headed to buy a car off efey or craglist he got stopped and the cops took his money cause there was “no reason” for him to be travling with that much cash……… really, really? Guess what they kept it. The guy even had printouts of the car/deal and was headed to pick it up with a friend in the car as well. Amerkia welcome!

    • Here in OK, there was a private company that was doing drug interdiction “training” for the HP and they were extra-judicially confiscating property and cash left and right. Of course now they’ve been kicked to the curb and only the “real” LEOs can do that sort of thing now.

  16. How about if you’re a gun owner, don’t have “a little bit of weed” on you? How about don’t pick which laws you follow and which you don’t.

  17. 5 steps to Dictatorship
    1) Lobby for a position of public service
    2) Upon obtaining position, claim it’s a position of power
    3) Exercise power
    4) Demand more power
    5) Get Overthrown, hunted

    “When forming interactive societies one maxim maintains the balance of individuals when
    commingled pairs form larger groups.
    That maxim is simply:

    ‘I WILL NOT PAY TO RAISE-UP AN ARMY AGAINST MYSELF’.”

    [TERMS, J.M. Thomas R., 2012 pg. 35]

  18. It would be your patriotic duty to go “Randy Weaver” with an M1A or similar tool, upon their entry. Tree of liberty, and all that.

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