I HATE Registration

And I HATE government confiscation of property.

See this story about a man who just received a Presidential pardon. You can bet your ass he didn’t get his boat or his rifle back.

Dentist Convicted Of Transporting Automatic Weapon

A man who pleaded guilty to transporting an automatic weapon in 1987 was pardoned by President George W. Bush, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Fort Lauderdale dentist Bruce Louis Bartos, 60, said he pleaded guilty to the charge of transporting an automatic weapon on his 45-foot fishing boat because he had two children in college, had just lost his wife to cancer and did not want to go to trial.

And lose everything he had, and probably go to jail. That’s the big stick the government hangs over the heads of nominally law-abiding citizens who just didn’t know the law or failed to cross some “t” or dot some “i”. Ayn Rand got it dead to rights:

There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one “makes” them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on the guilt.

Bartos said he was unaware at the time that his AR-15 – the civilian version of the M-16 military assault rifle – was illegal without a permit. He used the rifle, along with a handgun and other weapons, for protection from drug dealers and pirates when boating between South Florida and the Bahamas, he said.

“CIVILIAN VERSION” That means SEMI-AUTOMATIC. It’s a big distinction. Just ask the Violence Policy Center.

Now I cannot imagine a more appropriate firearm for defense against piracy – and piracy does occur in those waters. All he had it for was self-defense, but like Mr. Campbell in the post below, he’s the one victimized by the government. Read on.

Bartos agreed to plead guilty and forfeit his boat in return for two years’ probation.

What did the government need with his boat? We’re talking about a paperwork omission. Do they take your house if you fail to register your car?

I’d say the government “cashed in” on Mr. Bartos’s “guilt.” I wonder if a government employee now owns a 45′ fishing boat he got at a really good price.

“I pleaded guilty and lost my boat over a stupid $200 or $300 dollar gun,” he said. “And for $200 I could have had a permit.”

THEY STOLE HIS BOAT OVER A $200 TAX. And that, my friends, is what registration is good for – aside from confiscation of guns, which I’m sure they also did. I doubt he got to keep any of his guns.

Bartos later began to challenge his conviction by filing clemency requests and having character references sent to the Department of Justice on his behalf. He hired a Washington lawyer, and hoped to be among those pardoned before President Bill Clinton left office.

Sorry Mr. Bartos, but you weren’t a big Clinton campaign contributor (or big enough criminal) were you?

When he found out about the pardon Wednesday he became “breathless, speechless.”

I’m a little surprised myself. I expect the Deep Space Nine to make hay over Bush pardoning an “assault weapon smuggler” or some such quite soon.

“Someone in the Justice Department read my file and basically felt that I had really received a raw deal, and that it should never have been handled this way,” Bartos said.

Even though only close friends and advocates knew about his conviction, the pardon came as a great relief.

“It gives me the ability to hold my head up high, like I’m a full fledged citizen of this country,” he said.

You just got reamed by the government of this country, and they had the courtesy to kiss you afterward. That is all.

A U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman in Miami did not have any comment on the pardon.

No, I bet they didn’t.

Does this restore all his rights? Was it a felony conviction? Could it have resulted in a sentence of more than one year (or was there a sentencing guidline at all?)

Did the pardon come with the keys to his boat?

Enquiring minds want to know.

UPDATE: According to this story:

Bartos said his boat was stopped and searched when he returned from a family trip to Bimini in 1986. On board he had an AR-15, the civilian version of the M-16 military assault rifle, which Bartos said he carried for protection.

The gun was tested at the FBI lab and deemed to be automatic, which is illegal.

Illegal without the $200 “tax”. I should have recognized that just by the reference to the $200 requirement. (Then again, his assertion that it was a $200-300 rifle is in error. Even in 1986 a full-auto AR-15 would have been worth over a thousand dollars. A semi-auto version would be worth more than $500.) I assume that Mr. Bartos’s AR-15 had M-16 parts installed in it, which is a no-no. But I stand by my objection: Taking someone’s hundred-thousand dollar boat over a $200 tax omission is excessive punishment.

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