Red Flag Gun Laws: Connecticut Man's Firearms Seized Because His Son Shared A Meme On Facebook
Due to the recent mass shootings, there is a major push for so-called “red flag” gun laws at both the state and federal levels. These laws are the latest tool for gun control advocates to confiscate guns from people based upon only tips and suspicion. No crime has to be committed to trigger an investigation or confiscation.
Red flag laws violate multiple rights protected by our constitution. The Hill has an excellent article on how red flag laws violate more than the 2nd Amendment, including:
What could possibly go wrong?
Just ask Brandon Wagshol and his dad, from the anti-gunner haven state, Connecticut.
Brandon’s No Innocent Angel
Before I write anything else, let me be clear. Wagshol is not some squeaky-clean, innocent angel. He wrote some vile racist and transphobic tweets. He also seemed to taunt the FBI in his tweets, which certainly isn’t the smartest thing in the world to do. That being said, holding bigoted views is not the same things as acting on those views. Voicing his bigoted opinions, while disgusting, is not a criminal act. The First Amendment protects his right to voice his hate in the same way that it protects flag burning. No one has to like it, but it’s not a criminal act.
Wagshol may also have been caught in a few lies made on Facebook. According to Norwalk police Lt. Terry Blake:
Wagshol also admitted to purchasing four 30-round magazines at a Bass Pro Shop in New Hampshire to circumvent Connecticut law limiting magazines to ten rounds. Wagshol is now facing four felony counts for possessing those magazines. Whether or not you support Connecticut’s ban on 30-round magazines, he will be found guilty under current CT law for possessing them.
Finally, Wagshol did admit to ordering a kit to build an AR. A lot of preppers and gun enthusiasts have done the exact same thing. That’s more than understandable with the government chomping at the bit to enact more gun control. Wagshol will likely be in legal trouble in CT for that too.
Be Careful What You Post on Social Media
This is where a “concerned citizen” stepped in. Wagshol shared a meme on Facebook that someone found scary.
According to News12 Connecticut:
That’s right. The confiscated guns belong to his father. The son “had access” to them by living in the same house, but they are his father’s property. His father didn’t do anything wrong, but his property has been seized nonetheless.
This might be a good time to remind your own kids, both young and adult, to watch what they say on social media because it has real-world implications.
Let’s take a look at those other confiscated items, shall we? Camouflage clothing, body armor, gloves, bags, and computers are all legal to own. Listing it all, however, sure makes it sound super-scary. But, seriously, how much danger were people facing from that camouflage bag?
What kind of firearms were confiscated?
I bet you’re expecting to read a long list of firearms. The media spin has been predictable. CNN said “numerous” firearms were confiscated. The Washington Post described the weapons confiscated as a “cache” However, according to the Hartford Courrant:
So, two firearms. That’s what we’re talking about. And, the rifle takes the smallest rounds possible. It’s the kind of round you use plinking or to shoot squirrels or small pests. Who doesn’t have this stuff kicking around?
What Kind of Post Gets Your Guns Seized?
Even though Wagshol has denied having any intent to commit a mass shooting, several news outlets have reported that Wagshol made a Facebook post about wanting to commit a mass shooting, including CNNand The Washington Post.
So, what was this scary Facebook post that led to Wagshol’s arrest?
Good question. There doesn’t seem to be one.
The “concerned citizen” reported a Facebook post regarding buying 30-round magazines. However, no post has surfaced stating Wagshol wanted them for a mass shooting.
The police claim, however, that Wagshol was indeed planning a mass murder. From the Hartford Courrant:
From the CTPost
According to Wagshol’s lawyer, Stamford attorney Darnell Crosland, the police failed to cite any actual Facebook posts in the official report.
Some readers here may also be familiar with the Facebook page, Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children. Their page posted an article from their website with the potential offending meme.
The article goes on to clarify what those terms mean.
Could this be the offending post? Maybe, maybe not. The article from Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children also says Instagram has blacklisted the term, “boogaloo”. However, I was able to search Instagram and find both the hashtag and multiple users with “boogaloo” as part of their name. So, that doesn’t seem to be entirely accurate.
The CTPost stated the “concerned citizen” reported Wagshol’s posts after talking about getting the 30-round magazines from out of state that are illegal in Connecticut.
Regardless if it was the above-mentioned meme, or a post about magazines which were banned in CT, neither mention mass shootings.
If it is, how many times have we seen similar memes shared by prepper friends or by fellow members in prepper groups on social media or prepper forums?
Rights for Some, Or Rights for All?
Red flag laws are unconstitutional on multiple levels. I know lots of people believe they are necessary. But, we make better decisions when we keep things logical and constitutional, not emotional and reaching.
Here’s what we know:
I know I’m going to catch some flak for this assessment, and that’s ok. I’m fine with holding unpopular opinions. I try to remain consistent in my libertarian views, regardless of what’s popular or not.
But, constitutionally-protected rights apply to everyone, even jerks with bigoted views.
We’ve got an angry, young man who has run his mouth on social media combined with a general atmosphere of fear over mass shootings and firearms in general. Someone got freaked out and reported him under CT’s “red flag” law. Rather than moving to a state where the laws reflect his values, he chose to violate the law and obtain banned magazines and a kit for a banned gun. These were only found during the confiscation, which was the result of a ruling that denied him and his father (who legally owned the guns) due process. The confiscation violated multiple constitutionally-protected rights. Regardless of what is or isn’t constitutional, he’s still in jail. While Wagshol doesn’t sound like someone I would want to spend much time with, he still has civil rights which appear to have been violated.
Many would say that because of his views toward other races or towards transsexuals, that alone is enough to constitute a credible threat of violence. Except, that it isn’t. There is a difference between saying, “I don’t like you” and “I am personally going to harm you.” Red flag laws are pure “Thought Police” and “Pre-Crime Division” stuff. 1984 and The Minority Report were supposed to be warnings, not blueprints.
We either have rights for all, or we have rights for none. If we can overlook someone’s rights because we dislike their beliefs or views, then we should have every expectation that our own rights can and will be overlooked as well. groups we dislike, or we will be torn apart from within by our differences.
I’m hoping it will be the first but preparing for the second.
Cat Ellis is an herbalist, massage therapist, midwifery student, and urban homesteader from New England. She keeps bees, loves gardening and canning, and practice time at the range. She teaches herbal skills on her website, Herbal Prepper. Cat is a member of the American Herbalists Guild, and the author of two books, Prepper’s Natural Medicine and Prepping for a Pandemic.
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