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Those who pay attention to politics have seen it: laws that allow authorities to do things that are clearly unconstitutional, abusive, utterly unreasonable, stupid and/or morally wrong. Take for example a “comprehensive background check” law written such that merely handing someone a firearm to examine, without first completing the mandated paperwork regime and obtaining state permission, is actually a crime. The law may not specifically say that, but a father could be arrested and prosecuted for handing his son a rifle. A law-abiding gun owner could find herself wearing handcuffs for allowing a friend to hold her handgun . . .

When engaging the legislators who wrote such laws, the conversation always runs along these lines:

Citizen: “This law is going to get honest people arrested for doing nothing.”

Legislator: “Oh, no. Ha, ha, ha! That wasn’t our intent. That will never happen.”

Citizen: “But the law is written that way.”

Legislator: “The police will never arrest anyone for that.”

Citizen: “Then you won’t mind removing that provision from the law, or clarifying it, then?”

Legislator: “Now you’re being unreasonable! We’re talking public safety here! What are you, some kind of gun nut?!”

The point, of course, is that such laws are written to allow the unreasonable and morally wrong, and legislators (I know, I repeat myself) — who wrote and passed the law by stealthy means — have absolutely no intention of changing or repealing it because it’s doing exactly what they intended all along.

States have a variety of laws, ostensibly for the safety of the public, that also fall into this category. Many allow the police, or in some cases specifically-created agencies, to seize, “safeguard,” and dispose of the property of people who have died. Normally, such statutes allow state action only when the deceased have no relatives—or people are designated by a will—to take possession of the property, whether a home or other items. To allow otherwise would encourage bureaucrats and the police to seize personal property for self-enrichment. In some states, these laws are an open invitation to official corruption.

It will not surprise TTAG readers to learn that Buffalo, NY is a part of that undistinguished company. Fox News has the story: 

“A plan by police in Buffalo, N.Y., to begin confiscating the firearms of legal gun owners within days of their deaths is drawing fire from Second Amendment advocates.

The plan is legal under a longstanding, but rarely enforced state law, but gun rights advocates say, with apologies to onetime NRA spokesman Charlton Heston, it is tantamount to prying firearms – some of which may have substantial monetary or sentimental value – from the cold, dead hands of law-abiding citizens.

‘They’re quick to say they’re going to take the guns,’ said Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. ‘But they don’t tell you the law doesn’t apply to long guns, or that these families can sell [their loved one’s] pistol or apply to keep it.’

King said enforcing the state law is the latest example of authorities targeting law-abiding gun owners, while doing little to secure the streets.”

King is quite right. Seizing the guns of the law-abiding deceased, particularly where there are relatives available to take possession of them, clearly demonstrates that the concern of Buffalo authorities is not public safety.

“Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derrenda said at a press conference last week that the department will be sending people to collect guns that belong to pistol permit holders who had died so ‘they don’t end up in the wrong hands.’ The department will cross reference pistol permit holders with death records and the guns will be collected when possible, he said.

Derrenda said guns pose a threat if their owner is no longer alive to safeguard them, especially if a recently-deceased gun owner’s home is burglarized.

‘At times they lay out there and the family is not aware of them and they end up just out on the street,’ he said, according to

Surely the Police Commissioner, the man responsible for upholding the rights of all of Buffalo’s citizens, would first determine whether it is necessary to seize these guns. After all, if the deceased has a still-living spouse, or relatives, what would be the point? What would be the public safety necessity? What would be the compelling governmental interest? Notice that the Commissioner is not producing a single example of guns ending up “out on the street” in these circumstances. Surely he would if such a thing had ever actually happened?

“The state law says that if the permit holder dies, the estate has 15 days to dispose of the guns or turn them in to authorities, who can hold the weapons up to two years. reported that violation of the law by survivors is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine. [skip]

The state law has been in the books for years but not enforced, King said. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office told that it learned about the Buffalo police decision after the announcement, but has no plans to invoke it on a regular basis as the city of Buffalo does.”

How can this be? Isn’t the Erie County Sheriff’s office equally concerned for public safety?

“Dominic Saraceno, a Buffalo defense attorney, said he anticipates legal challenges. He is concerned that family members may simply allow police to retrieve the guns while not realizing their value.

‘These gun collections can value into the hundreds of thousands,’ he said. ‘If a police officer came to my door without a warrant signed by a judge, I’m not giving them anything. Most people don’t know that and get intimidated.’

Calls to Buffalo’s mayor’s office and to the police department were not returned. But the city has employed other programs, including buy-backs, to help counter gun violence. One such program took place in August and netted 840 guns. Critics of these buy-back programs say most people who turn in their guns are likely law-abiding citizens and these numbers do not necessarily estimate illegal guns off the streets.

‘I say to those critics, again, if we can get one of these guns off the streets that could be used to commit a crime or injure a member of our community, it’s a good thing,’ Mayor Byron Brown told WIVB during the summer.”

In order to seize the guns of a deceased citizen, the Buffalo Police would have to be aware of every death occurring within their jurisdiction. Via the coroner, newspaper obituaries, police calls, etc. they can surely do this. They must also assign clerical personnel–or even police officers taken away from actual law enforcement duties (this does indeed regularly happen)–to cross check all deaths with gun permits. Why the local police should never be allowed to require and keep records on who owns firearms and their specifications and numbers is an article for another time, but Buffalo’s current mania to seize the property of its citizens is yet another eloquent argument against gun registration of any kind.

Since the police are actually digging into the private lives of families, particularly at a terribly tender and sad time, would the public not be better served by the police notifying them of their rights under the law? Wouldn’t helping survivors to retain the property of their deceased loved ones, some of which are surely prized heirlooms, be the decent, lawful, moral thing to do? Of course, but this is New York State. Where guns are concerned so-called public servants have no decency and their morals are the morals of the thug.

Who has so little conscience, whose heart is so black that they would write a law demanding that within two weeks of the death of a loved one, survivors must complete paperwork to retain the property that is their inheritance? Who mandates that grief-stricken people must deal with the whims of bureaucrats wrangling over cherished symbols, reminders of their fathers, mothers or siblings? And who is so cruel they would enforce such a law? Who imagines they are entitled to the property of dead strangers?

Usually, individual police officers are not to blame. Those few aware of such laws–most police officers are aware of only those laws they regularly enforce–generally don’t invoke them unless there is a very good reason. An officer, for example, might find himself at a home where an elderly man has died. Seeing a handgun on a bedroom nightstand, and being unable to locate any family, he might take it into custody for safekeeping–not to seize if for the state–until relatives can be found.

It is when politicians–and higher-ranking police officers are always politicians to at least some degree–become involved that officers find themselves forced to do things they know to be wrong and abusive of the rights of those they are sworn to serve and protect. Generally, rank and file police officers, the men and women that actually do the daily work of policing, support the Second Amendment. Perhaps that’s the case here.

The statute books of every state contain time bombs like this. Particularly where the Second Amendment is involved, it would be very much worthwhile to scour those statutes and work to see that laws like those in New York State be rewritten to eliminate any possibility of abuse, or repealed. At the very least, blanketing authorities with tyrannical pretentions with adverse publicity often has the salutary effect of forcing them to avoid those laws like the plague.

In any case, Buffalo has earned a dubious distinction: it is yet another island of contempt for the rights of citizens and for the Second amendment. Governor Cuomo, as he watches firearm-related businesses and law-abiding, productive citizens flee the state,  is proud, I’m sure.

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    • I agree. New York is one of a few of them who qualify. If I lived in an area that was subject to such idiotic thinking, the guns would disappear from the decedents home before the death certificate was signed. Certainly the state would not get their hands on them. Maryland is another state with stupid gun laws. A lot of face to face transactions of handguns and so called “assault weapons” went on without the blessing or oversight of the state. Laws such as these need to be resisted.

  1. This clown is more of a threat to me and my safety than all the “protestors” in Ferguson combined.

  2. If, as the anti-gunners say, “It’s for the children.”

    Why aren’t they focused on stopping the gun violence NOW?

    I think they are the murderers!!!!

    • Why would the statists want to stop the “gun violence” when it is a vehicle to be used to acquire more power? Do you really thing the authorities in Mexico and the USA really want to end the “War on Drugs”?


    Article goes on to explain how their anti-gun laws and policies, create the criminal opportunities.

  4. As I have said before, it’s always easier to find and confiscate guns from the law abiding. Doing the same to criminals takes so much more time and effort.

    “Generally, rank and file police officers, the men and women that actually do the daily work of policing, support the Second Amendment.”

    If you have to use an exclusionary disclaimer, like “generally” before your statement, it’s a sure bet that you don’t actually know if this is a true statement or not. I, on the other hand, have heard straight from the mouths of my local sheriffs deputies, that they are not big fans of the 2nd amendment because, and I quote, “It only makes our job that much harder.” Spoken like a true statist.

    • My thoughts exactly.

      Knock, knock.
      “Yes, officer?”
      “We’re sorry for your loss. May we come in?”
      “Do you have a warrent?”
      “Then you can’t come in.”

      Of course, would I expect my grieving wife to remember this in the first week or two while, you know, grieving? Probably not. A pox on those that take advantage of those in a vulnerable state.


    This initiative makes living in The Formerly Free State, Maryland absolutely exhilarating. Happiness is the NY State Line in your rearview mirror for the last time.

    • “Oh really? What’s this credit card charge for range fees? Oh, and here’s one for ammo, in three different calibers. Grandpa’s been dead six months.”

      • Oh, crap did somebody steal my/grandpa’s credit card?

        Also, how the hell do you have my credit card bill?

        Oh, that stuff, yeah, see a friend of mine, he lives in Pennsylvania, you wouldn’t know him, he has some cool guns that I like to play with. So I buy him some ammo and pay for his range fees so I can play with his guns.

  6. Keep electing liberals AND tuning into liberal TV stations or buying liberal newspapers…..don’t do it ….hit them in the pocketbook.

  7. No one mentioned this, but in California, there are many guns that are not allowed to be inherited no matter what. Any “registered assault weapon” is completely non-transferable in California and are forfeit to the state when the registered owner dies.

  8. There is some truth in that the enforcement of a law depends on the cultural milieu,which is still pretty scary. For example, in Florida (and I suspect in many other states ) it is illegal to pick up someone else’s gun at their house unless you mean to engage in hunting or shooting with it right then and there. Has anyone ever been arrested for it? I doubt it. Federal senator Ben Nelson could have been arrested for violating the open carry ban when he held a rifle at an anti gun police news conference last year in Orlando. ‘The “law” perverted!’-Bastiat

  9. Flashback to 2013 in California’s safety committee:

    Politician: this bill will take dangerous guns off the street.
    peasant civilian: actually, this bill reclassifies all handguns as short barrel shotguns. It effectively bans all handguns and requires confiscation.
    Politician: that was not my intent, I’ll go back and change it.

    Committee vote; 5-1, passes out of committee.
    (Was rewritten a few times, still a terrible bill, somehow did not pass, a minor miracle)

  10. “Legislator: “Oh, no. Ha, ha, ha! That wasn’t our intent. That will never happen.”

    NO….it’s EXACTLY as its supposed to work. Folks need to wrap their heads.
    around the reality that “universal background checks” are the new method
    for civilian gun confiscation…before you even have the gun in the hand. Really
    slick….! It’s SO SIMPLE….follow me hear…make EVERYONE get permission
    from the government to exercise your rights (what do you think a NIC’s
    check is?)….then not give permission. The “Elmer Fudds” just lap this
    up….then they are disarmed. One result will be increased disrespect
    for the law and increased refusal to have ANY contact with ANY LEO’s
    LEO lurkers…I know you troll…..THINK about this….make an effort.

  11. Yawn…..another pro-police puff piece where we’re supposed to cherish and honor and maybe even pity the shock troops on the streets because they’re caught in the middle and just following orders.

    Those flesh and blood monsters who actually kick down doors and strip rights in the night are allegedly just struggling to serve the public and uphold their oaths, while contending with overreaching politicians who shelter statist ambitions. It’s that latter group for whom we should reserve our enmity, not the beat cops carrying out orders. Well.

    They’re all in on it. No excuses, no exceptions, and no escape from judgment.

    • Yawn…..Another anti-police rant about how ALL police are agents for the grand statist agenda, never mind that the police in some areas are the ones actively encouraging citizens to buy, own, and use guns. Never mind that police are drawn from the population and so you’re likely to get both good ones as well as bad ones. Never mind that you may have friends who are police and may know for a fact that they, specifically, love liberty as much as anyone else. No, anyone who puts on a uniform MUST be evil. After all, are you REALLY willing to trust your own experiences more than you do some random guy on the Internet?

  12. That is really weird. Here in the Czech Republic the family members get two months after the death of the owner to get all the paperwork needed so they can keep the guns in case they didn’t have the license before.

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