‘Decommissioned’ Guns Nearly As Good As Confiscations

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The Brady group and its congressional supporters are proceeding, and making headway, with a below-radar effort to ban operating firearms from the general public, without having to actually disarm America’s 80 million gun owners.

The plan is now evolving around an innocent-sounding new legal term. It was tucked deep in a 400,000-word spending bill under president Clinton (law # P.L. 105-277), and it is now spreading throughout federal gun laws. Its latest use, the eighth, is in the frivolous-lawsuit ban just enacted (The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, law # P.L. 109-92; S.397). Described at the end of this report, it accents a liability all Americans — not just gun owners — are increasingly under, a tightening legal noose few people realize is around their necks.


The phrase is “secure gun storage or safety device.” It includes almost anything that will keep a gun from working. At its simplest, it’s gun locks.

This and closely related tactics are sometimes called “decommissioning schemes.” Gun-control advocates — the mainstream ones who seek to disarm the public — will essentially win their cause if they can require guns to be disabled, disassembled, locked up or turned off by remote control.

This approach is already working in National Parks where possession of a working gun subjects you to immediate federal arrest, confiscation of your property, and endless aggravation. No criminal act of any kind is required, just legal possession of personal property — any firearm. However, a gun in pieces so it cannot be fired, locked in your car trunk is allowed. Interestingly, no statutory authority for this denial of civil rights can be found. And of course, statutory denial of civil rights would be unconstitutional on its face.

Washington, D.C., is currently under a similar “decommissioning model” too, though its registration system gets more attention. In addition to a full ban on handgun registration since 1976, firearms that were owned before that date cannot be assembled, or even carried — at home. It’s almost as good as taking the guns away, from a gun-ban perspective. Any gun use, including legitimate self defense, implies assembly and carriage, and is banned.

Even the widely hailed federal “Firearm Transportation Guarantee” (law # 18 USC 926A) relies on decommissioned guns. It was enacted as part of the Firearm Owners Protection Act in 1986, to help counteract high levels of federal abuse under the 1968 Gun Control Act. It guarantees a person the right to transport a firearm from any legal place to any other, anywhere in the country. However, the firearm must be unloaded and locked in the trunk, rendering it useless. If you bear it in any manner while you travel, the protection does not apply.

Under Brady-supported decommissioning schemes, you can keep your guns, but if they’re ever workable, or available, you become a criminal and subject to arrest. It’s pretty clever actually. And it has been working, even though forced decommissioning is infringement of the right to keep arms and the right to bear arms.

The Byrne Grant program (law # 42 USC 3760) provides federal money for law-enforcement firearm training and other purposes. Changed under president Clinton, it now authorizes federal funding to train the public in the use of… gun locks. Under a gun-unfriendly administration (anti-rights advocates believe they will have this one day), little prevents this funding from going into large-scale campaigns to convince people to only possess decommissioned guns, “for safety.”

While on one hand, who could rationally argue against making guns safe, gun guru Col. Jeff Cooper has succinctly pointed out that, “A gun that’s safe isn’t worth anything.”

And that turns out to be the very heart of this gun-ban plan — a gun that’s safe isn’t worth anything. But gun-rights advocates know guns are dangerous, they are supposed to be dangerous, and they’re not any good if they’re not dangerous. Anything requiring guns to be “safe” is the true danger, and the secure storage device has now become “incentivized.”

The Republican party, in control for half a decade, hasn’t used Byrne Grants for their other authorized purpose: training the public in “the lawful and safe ownership, storage, carriage or use of firearms.” Will Republican failure to use this law (for gun-safety training) also deter Democrats from using it (to promote gun locks)? Nah. And now, with gun locks slipped into the gun-industry protection bill…

As the subtle tactic of decommissioned guns continues, the right to keep and bear arms is at risk. The next time the anti-rights factions slip in the phrase “secure gun storage or safety device,” you had better look very closely. All it will take is one use, with the word “required,” to wipe out our cherished Second Amendment rights. And they won’t have to take your guns away to do it.

OCCURRENCES of “secure gun storage or safety device” (SGSSD)

18 USC 921(34). The “secure gun storage or safety device” is defined.

18 USC 923(d). Dealers are required to carry SGSSDs, unless they are unavailable due to supply-chain problems outside the dealer’s control.

18 USC 923(e). Dealer’s license can be revoked for failing to carry SGSSDs, unless they were unavailable due to supply-chain problems.

42 USC 3760. The Byrne Grant law is amended to allow training the public in use of SGSSDs, and use of firearms.

18 USC 922(z)(1). Dealers now required to provide SGSSDs with every firearm sold.

18 USC 924(p)(1)(A). Stiff fines and license suspension added to penalties for dealers who fail to provide SGSSDs.

18 USC 922(z)(2). Proper authorities at every level of federal, state and local government are exempt from the SGSSD laws. Someone should write a paper just on that.

18 USC 922(z)(3)(A). This was inserted by Brady-backed anti-gun-rights legislators. It went into the gun-industry-protection, frivolous-lawsuit ban (Oct. 2005): A person who uses an SGSSD on a gun has liability protection if a criminal steals the gun and then uses it in criminal activity.

Providing an “incentive” to decommission your firearms, as this law does, is sinisterly clever. In the name of safety, you are threatened with legal nightmares that are little more than corrupt abuses of the justice system. These are the actions of a resolute and unprincipled enemy of the human and civil right to keep and bear arms.

”’Note: When a criminal steals your property, and then uses it to harm someone or violate the law, the criminal — not you — should be liable to the victims. Because the court system is broken (I’m being nice), such cases often proceed, even if they have no legal footing to come after you, or grounds to win. Their main purposes are the huge costs they inflict, the aggravation factor and the chance for a settlement, all shameful abuses of the court system. Protection from such abuse is the very thing the gun industry just got under the lawsuit bill (the public was not included in the protection). All Americans, not just gun owners, are increasingly under this abominable legal corruption. A man sued Ford because his daughter had a flat. He lost of course, but frivolous cases used to get their attorneys disbarred. They no longer do.”’

”’Alan Korwin is the Author of Gun Laws of America. See more at”’ https://www.gunlaws.com ”’Reach him via email at”’ mailto:alan@gunlaws.com

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