RED FLAG Gun Laws: Connecticut Man’s Firearms Seized Because His SON Shared a Meme on Facebook

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By Cat Ellis

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:

Hopefully you’ll never commit a mass shooting, murder, or violent assault. But while you might not have a criminal connection to such individuals, you do share at least one thing in common: you both have unalienable rights. The right to face your accuser. The right to due process. The right to protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Every one of these rights are explicitly violated under red flag laws. (source)

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:

A Facebook page for the younger Wagshol said he was a former U.S. Marine and worked at the Department of Homeland Security as a janitor. Blake said both of these statements on Facebook are untrue. (source)

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:

FBI investigators say the Norwalk Police Department received a tip about Wagshol’s activity from a concerned citizen. The joint investigation began after the FBI received a tip that Wagshol was trying to buy high capacity magazines from out of state.

Police say all the weapons recovered from the home are legally owned and registered to Wagshol’s father, but that the 22-year-old had access to them. Investigators also recovered body armor with a titanium plate, camouflage shirt, pant and belt, ballistic helmet, tactical gloves, camouflage bag and computers. (source)

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:

Inside the condominium, authorities reported seizing a .40-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle, a rifle scope with laser, firearm optics and flashlights, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. They also found body armor with a titanium plate, and tactical attire, police said.

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 CNN and 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:

Norwalk police Lt. Terry Blake said Wagshol had posted on Facebook that he “was into planning a mass murder.” (source)

From the CTPost

Police claimed Wagshol made social media posts showing an interest in mass shootings, but did not specify any particular posts. (source)

According to Wagshol’s lawyer, Stamford attorney Darnell Crosland, the police failed to cite any actual Facebook posts in the official report.

Crosland also said the report did not include any of Wagshol’s Facebook posts in question.

“What I understand is that he didn’t make any comments on Facebook, but there might have been other memes, as they call it, that he might have re-posted, but he didn’t make a statement on Facebook as related to any mass shooting.” (source)

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.

“Boogaloo” – a slang term for shit-hits-the-fan, or government gone bad and they’re coming for you, time to fight back. Boogaloo toys refers to guns. The opposite of “bugging out.”

“Alphabet bois” – ATF, FBI, DEA, etc.

“Coat hanger sears” – hand-crafted drop-in auto sears for an AR.

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:

  • Wagshol is a 22-year old man, attending college, living with his 2A-supporting dad.
  • This 22-year old holds some hostile and bigoted views.
  • He also holds some anti-government views.
  • He has lied about prior military status and employment history.
  • He decided that his state of residence has imposed unconstitutional laws that violate his second amendment rights and chose to ignore them buy buying 30-round magazines from a Bass Pro shop in NH and ordering an AR kit from CA.
  • Someone reported a meme he shared to police under Connecticut’s “red flag law”.
  • An investigation took place without his knowledge, and his father’s firearms have been confiscated along with some clothing and gear.
  • The official report does not include any specific Facebook posts, never mind Facebook posts discussing mass shootings.
  • He has been banned from the college campus he attends until after the investigation.

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.

About Cat

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.

Cat Ellis

Cat Ellis

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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35 Responses

  1. A case that the Institute for Justice won (this most recent February of 2019 in a 9-0 US Supreme Court decision) ruled that the Constitutional 8th Amendment prohibition against excessive fines and punishments applied not only at the federal level but also all the way down through state, county and local city levels. While that ruling was about grossly excessive civil asset forfeiture issues, it established another far reaching principle that could possibly have great benefit. This is about that Timbs v Indiana case:

    https://ij.org/case/timbs-v-indiana/

    Suppose for example if SCOTUS might ever rule that both 2nd and 4th Amendment issues could not be abused by states, counties or even cities? SCOTUS has opened a pathway in that direction. Whether they might ever walk upon it remains to be seen. Clearly, weapons paranoid states like Connecticut need a quick legal trip to the woodshed.

    —Lewis

  2. When I heard about red flag gun laws and the confiscation of one’s guns,I said these laws are going to be abused.I WAS RIGHT!Red flag gun laws are in violation of the first,second,fourth,fifth and sixth amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America.Red flag gun laws are going to be used as an excuse to relieve every legal gun owner of their guns illegally.Red flag gun laws are backdoor gun ban.This gun law is going to start a modern day civil war in the U.S.,if it is implemented countrywide.

  3. Just one more reason not to use “social media”.
    .
    Eventually these laws will get to the supreme Court. Heaven only knows what will happen then.

  4. We are truly living in frightening times. This is insanity-it’s the Thought Police on steroids. I am very careful what I say on Facebook, and try to limit myself to cocker spaniels and Prep Club. A “concerned citizen” is just another snitch with an agenda. I thought what happened to Tommy Robinson in the UK couldn’t happen in this country. Now? I’m not so sure.

  5. Obviously red flag law supporters don’t care about are local law enforcement officials because they will be the ones bearing the violence at the front door. Constitutional violations will not be settled in the kangaroo courts where you pretend to board a ship to be under marine time admiralty law & grown individuals play dress up in robes.
    So I guess it’s time to throw some red flags. A lot of times officers want to hold your weapons for their safety while they investigate,now due to red flag laws it will be a bad idea any attempt to disarm will result in VIOLENCE. So for their safety they need to follow the constitution.

  6. The son is not a minor. There seem to be no earthly grounds for taking his father’s protected weapons and gear. I’d say this was an ideal case for the old bill of rights crusading ACLU. However, I don’t think the new SJW ACLU will want to get involved.

  7. Ok, let’s take a step back and take a deep breath and look at this carefully.

    Let’s say Wagshol had managed to get his hands on the .22 caliber rifle and the .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol. After all, the story said he had access. Now let’s say he loaded the four 30-round magazines with .40 caliber ammo (and presumably also had .22 caliber ammo for the rifle) and gone off on a shooting spree. Suddenly, everyone would be decrying his actions and demanding to know how he got access to such deadly weapons and why didn’t someone do something to prevent this because look at his social media posts!

    Don’t forget, the Virginia Tech shooter killed 32 and wounded 17 with just two semiautomatic pistols – one was a .22 caliber Walther, the other a 9mm Glock 19. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Tech_shooting

    So while red flag laws are lamentable when abused by the authorities, in some cases they may save many, many lives. This could well have been one of those times when a red flag law actually may have worked as designed. Just because the father owned the guns, the son still had access and thus the end result could have been horrifically tragic.

    For the record, I’m a strong 2nd Amendment advocate and decry the anti-gun attitudes in this country. Nevertheless, there has to be a way to keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them.

    1. I agree with you, Sam. This kid’s profile matches up with the profiles of other men who HAVE gone on shooting rampages. It’s too bad that the father has to suffer for the son’s actions, but would it be better to have yet another mass shooting? In this case, I think that the authorities absolutely did the correct thing.
      What would be interesting to find out is if there is any provision for the father to be reimbursed or to get his property back once his dopey son is in jail.
      When you own weapons if any sort, you are responsible for securing them against small children accessing them, and if you have anyone unstable in your home, you should take the same precautions.

      1. Was the son on psychotropic drugs? The articles don’t mention that, but that is a more accurate predictor of random gun violence (apart from examples where the official accounts don’t match eyewitness accounts) than the presence of firearms.

    2. Unless I missed it somewhere, It’s likely that the 30 round magazines were for the AR kit, not the .22 or.40 caliber weapons. 30 round magazines are the standard for the AR and can be bought almost anywhere that they are legal, that is, not Connecticut. Finding high capacity magazines for a .22 means finding one for a specific model and they vary based on manufacturer and sometimes by model. Same goes for the .40 cal. Not impossible, but it seems like the less likely scenario in this case.

      1. @Aussie Expat,
        I read it like you described.
        There is also no mention of the type of ammunition he bought out of state, if it were 5.56mm or .22LR.
        There is no mention if the .22 rifle was a semi-automatic, bolt action, lever gun, or even single shot.
        A rifle scope with a laser . . . you can get slingshots on Amazon with lasers too. No, really.
        Camo clothing, bags . . . really? I have a surplus camo Hungarian field jacket. Why? It was cheap.

        1. Valid points from both Aussie Expat and 1stMarineJarHead. Insufficient data provided in Cat’s original article. According to the Wikipedia article, the Virginia Tech shooter “had two handguns with nineteen 10- and 15-round magazines, and nearly 400 rounds of ammunition. …. Cho used a 15-round magazine in the Glock and a 10-round magazine in the Walther.”

          It’s not clear from Cat’s article what magazine capacity (and how many) were accessible to Wagshol for each of the semiautomatic pistols. However, it doesn’t change the potential outcome if Wagshol had been able to follow through on his threats.

          Accordingly, I stand by my original comments as to the reasonableness of law enforcement’s actions in this particular case.

    3. You can’t punish people for thought crimes. Laws already exist to punish those who ACT out crimes. There is no room for control freaks who think they can read someone’s thoughts as a prelude to their actions. Only God can read the thoughts and know where they are going.

    4. You cannot have it both ways…either your property can be confiscated for something someone else did or “shall not be infringed” is the law. You cannot be a “strong 2nd Amendment advocate” if you support the former.

      No matter what the son has done…the father’s property is not forfeit under ANY laws. Even if the son had actually committed a crime it does not change the fact that the father committed no crime and his property is not subject seizure. I hope the father takes everyone & every agency involved with this illegal action to court with civil suits.

  8. Well… the ACLU won’t touch this case. They’ve done a complete 180 on what they defend.

    Does the term OPSEC mean anything to any one?

    1. “the problem started at “facebook”…” – couldn’t agree more. As Ron White says, you can’t fix stupid.

      Adam Lanza packed up his mother’s guns and slaughtered people, after he slaughtered her. How many times have we read “he was a good boy” (can’t recall last female mass shooter) or “he was such a nice man, we had no idea (John Wayne Gacy/Ted Bundy) ? I have no issue with LE confiscating the guns – the kid had access.

      1. Nasim Aghdam,
        the YouTube shooter. Just last year. Admittedly, women seem to be far less likely to engage in mass violence, but they do.

  9. Cat, I like how you think and your courage. I have to bit my lip sometimes but what is right is right and wrong is wrong. Red Flag laws are wrong.

  10. I hope the father is rich, or a member of the NRA or other gun club that will take this to the USSC. When Roberts rules with the libs, the group should file an appeal with the President and the DOJ to investigate the meeting between Roberts and Obama, unscheduled, two nights before he issued the majority ruling on the ACA. That ruling was like no other ruling before it, and suggested the mandate was a tax. The process of passing the bill invalidated it as a tax law, yet the AG looked the other way. The blackmailing of Roberts was clear in a forensic analysis of the document, with grammatical errors unprecedented in a USSC decision. These errors indicate a major revision was attempted in a short period of time. The rulings since that night that were tight and decided by a tie-breaker by Roberts have been conspicuously different than the record prior to that night. The recent ruling against the citizenship question on the census was a ‘mind reading,’ which is illegal in a court of law. There’s a lot that can be unpacked with this man’s case. Is there a lawyer with the balls to take it on?

  11. I used to live in Norwalk, CT.
    Part of the problem is that the Mayor is/was (I left 5 years ago) the former Chief of Police and he is plain, old-fashioned, garden-variety stupid.
    The Norwalk police actually deserve being called “Nazis”. Try doing a search on Norwalk, CT Police and “skull fragment”.
    The only thing I regret about leaving CT is that I didn’t do it 40 years ago.

  12. THIS, this is your example? LOL
    First off FB and all the other social media needs to go.
    Second he went wayyyyy out of his way to get the attention he got.
    There plenty of more numbers but this post is so ridiculous it’s not even funny. Your trying so hard to blame everyone and everything but the actual criminal who has obvious mental issues. If he’s so violated and you feel so bad then let him move in with you.

  13. W-rong Bush hired the former head of the East German STASI, Marcus Wolf, and Yevgeny Primakov, former head of the KGB, to design Homeland Security (REDACTED, Followed by more “dual”citizen creeps.).
    Why? To bring the SNITCH-SOCIETY/oppression HERE.

    Where are the RED FLAG laws on Politicians? DEMAND they do the exact same thing-PLUS.
    Politicians, Police, Judges, Government Workers make Life & Death deadly decisions every day.
    WE should be able to make ONE call and have them suspended from office and blocked from making any decisions until they are cleared for duty.
    Red Flags on priests! Why did it take DECADES for the politicians to do ANYTHING about those THOUSANDS of pedophiles??!
    There must be “reporting centers” so priests and politicians(Gov. Employees) can be immediately suspended pending investigation.
    Public Servants are also expected to be held to Higher Standards due to their positions and maintaining the Public Trust.
    How come there is never a “War on Political Corruption”? Never investigation of how these “Sacrificing Public SERVANTS” get so RICH in office? Audit THEIR finances.
    Therefore when they come out with such demands of their EMPLOYERS, their EMPLOYERS have the Right and Duty to make the same demand of THEM.
    WE demand THEY provide ALL their social media and computer searches, their e-mail accounts, Bank accounts and financial records for examination. Also Mental Screening, physical records, testing for steroids and illicit drugs. They must also wear GPS trackers so we can evaluate where they are spending their time. Screening for pedophilia and any other sickness.
    If it is good enough for US it is certainly good enough for Our EMPLOYEES.
    Politicians need to be screened for drugs for treating dementia and prozac/SSRI type drugs and other drugs that would indicate mental deficiencies. It should be law that ANY politician taking those drugs disclose the use to the public.

  14. How do they claim they prevented a mass-shooting, if there is no definitive, presentable in a court of law, evidence?
    Speculation? Sure.
    Conjecture? Yep.
    But real actual evidence of planning to commit a mass shooting? Based off the reporting (subject to change as more information becomes available), does not look like it.

    The spin from MSM was disheartening. How can we trust them when they use such explosive, and questionable words.

  15. “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”

    How about the supreme law of the land and jury nullification Daisy?

    All of the salient points are ignored here. It’s like talking about 911 and ignoring the fact that it was an inside job…

  16. I predict that because of guilt peddlers like you, Americans will lose their courage when they need it and “burn in the camps” like Solzhenitsyn said.

  17. Turn this around.
    Start doxxing your libtard neighbors. Say they threatened you and you’re afraid for your life.

  18. I’m not at all supportive of the so-called Red Flag laws––either state or federally originated. They pose all of the serious Constitutional issues set out by the writer of this article. But. like anyone else, I’m concerned about addressing the mass shootings being perpetrated by crazies.

    Quite frankly, I’m fairly convinced that the best defense against these type of people is the passage of two laws: national conceal carry and the outlawing of virtually all “gun-free zones”. There is probably room for some exceptions, such as court houses that screen everybody; but generally speaking, they should not be allowed.

    Now as far as this kid is concerned, does anyone seriously believe that he should just be ignored? I don’t think so. But what the answer to situations like this might be is a far more difficult question. As a former State Senator (in a different state), I can tell you from experience, that crafting legal solutions that don’t cause many other problems (some far worse), is much easier said than done.

    Still, it’s unlikely to believe that the problem will just go away on its own.

  19. Issue I’m having with these “red flag” laws is the complete lack of due process afforded to the target for confiscation immediately makes these laws unconstitutional (along with the no-fly list). Cops suddenly show up at your home demanding your firearms to be surrendered without prior knowledge and people think that’s okay regardless of the reasoning and even if that person has no culpability in whatever the reasoning the cops and court order was imposed? I think not.

    In the same sense that someone making a threat has access locally, what’s the difference in that law being used to confiscate someone else’s firearms 1+ states over because family/friend relations? None. Red flag laws are a bypass of the 2nd to confiscate one’s firearms. Considering how a certain ideology’s belief that words can harm them… yah, no… this needs to be reversed immediately.

  20. they don’t give me free health care and thousands of others who have lived and wrked here all our lives.give to this country frst..I don’t wnt to join any party but I do expect this country to take care of our own first.we can not transmit something we do not have.if we can not take care of ours first we cant take care of others.there is talk about dropping SSI 23 %,wtf !!.what do we do then ?

  21. Not for nothing, but there is nothing wrong with having what some call “bigoted” or “racist” views. Those are personal preferences. Pretty much anything regarded as traditional, heteronormative or pro-European is viewed as “bigoted” these days. Red flag laws extend far beyond what some might deem as unacceptable views (and really, who is to judge how one is supposed to think?) You can red flag anyone just because they looked at you funny, you remember they might have mentioned having or even liking firearms, and simply siccing the “alphabet bois” on them for giggles. But hey, the entire constitution of this “racist” country is racist, crafted by racists for racists (Europeans and their ancestors), so don’t worry. It will all disappear in another generation or two.

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