Eugene Volokh takes a look at the case of US v. Edward L. Brown. The question seems to be whether the Court can order a collection destroyed after the collector is convicted of a felony, or whether the collector is permitted to transfer the collection:
For example, the ordered destruction would seem to raise serious Takings Clause issues. Firearms subject to neither lawful forfeiture nor confiscation as contraband (as in this case) remain valuable tangible personal property belonging to the convicted felon. I doubt the governmentâ€™s right to simply confiscate and destroy such valuable property without first affording due process and payment of just compensation, even if it is accepted that the felon-owner cannot unilaterally transfer his ownership rights following a felony conviction. In Cooper v. City of Greenwood, 904 F.2d 302 (5th Cir.1990), for example, the Fifth Circuit recognized that even one convicted of illegally possessing firearms does not lose his or her property interest in the firearms by virtue of the conviction alone. That property interest cannot be simply taken by the government without affording the property owner due process ofÂ law….
The Court seems to have argued that the government can direct the liquidation of the collection for the convicted person’s benefit. Meaning the government directs the collection to be sold, with the proceeds going to the convict. This would seem to me to be the fair way of going about it.
This is all assuming it’s a case where the firearm isn’t subject to forfeiture, or is contraband. Obviously if a collection of guns is pulled off a drug dealer, those guns are subject to forfeiture, along with other property used in furtherance of the crime. Another case would be an unregistered machine gun, being contraband, could just be taken.