Civil asset forfeiture is the process by which the government can take someone’s stuff and basically do it legally, despite the individual in question never actually being convicted of a crime.
The system was first put in place to try and hurt drug cartels. By taking their cars, boats, homes, etc, the hope was to make it simply too costly to do business anymore.
Of course, there’s a legal system to make it happen, but it’s odd. For example, the item itself is put on trial and, as such, doesn’t require the same burden of proof as a person would in a court of law. Further, there’s no legal representation provided, which means the property owner has to either pony up for an attorney himself or just lost his stuff.
That’s happening to a Texas man following the rampage shooting in Midland and Odessa, Texas in 2019.
Prosecutors are seeking to keep dozens of guns and firearm accessories seized from a man whose home was searched last year following a mass shooting in West Texas that left more than 20 people injured and seven dead.
Lawyers for the Justice Department have asked a federal court to grant the government permanent possession of 29 pistols, rifles and gun parts taken from the Lubbock home of Marcus Anthony Braziel. Court records value the guns at more $11,000.
At the time, a federal law enforcement official did not identify Braziel by name but said the home searched was that of a man who agents believed sold a semi-automatic rifle to the alleged gunman, 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator.
The civil forfeiture complaint filed last week states Braziel spent years buying, selling and building guns without a license, and in 2016 sold an AM-15 rifle to an Odessa resident with the initials “S.A.”
The case is against the seized firearms, not Braziel, and there is no record of a criminal case against him. It was first reported by KLBK-TV.
In other words, they don’t have enough evidence to charge Braziel, so they’re going to find another way to punish him.
Of course, since each gun is a case in and of itself, there’s pretty much no way Braziel is going to be able to fight that many cases. He’s going to lose dozens of guns and other items, despite there being insufficient evidence to prosecute him for, you know, an actual crime. Instead, they’re going to layout the accusation and then prosecute the firearms instead.
And the worst thing is that this is perfectly legal. The government can just take someone’s stuff because they say they think it’s been involved in a crime. Numerous individuals have had to deal with this, all while also not being prosecuted for a damn thing. Then, of course, the departments get to reap the benefits of it.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that part.
You see, civil asset forfeiture directly benefits law enforcement. They take the stuff and they can either sell it or use it themselves. Many communities’ drug units are entirely funded by civil asset forfeiture.
That means they get to take Braziel’s stuff, profit from it, and leave him with nothing. All while not prosecuting him for a damn thing.
In other words, they’re violating not just his Second Amendment rights, but his Fourth Amendment rights as well. All because they think he did something wrong.