Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Half-cocked D.C. gun searches - Examiner.com

Half-cocked D.C. gun searches - Examiner.com: "Mayor Adrian Fenty and Police Chief Cathy Lanier may have all the best intentions, but their “Safe Homes Initiative” is constitutionally and otherwise objectionable on several levels. The initiative involves door-to-door visits with police asking residents for permission to search their homes for guns. Any firearms found will be confiscated, but owners won’t be prosecuted unless the guns are determined to be linked to specific crimes.

The program has drawn criticism not just from gun-rights lobbies such as the National Rifle Association but also from the National Black Police Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. No matter how much respect and support police officers deserve, there is still an intimidation factor involved any time an officer is on one’s doorstep, such that the “permission” may not seem as voluntary as police mean it to be. So where does this end? How long before Lanier sends police into selected neighborhoods — selected by whom and on what basis? — asking to search homes for marijuana, terrorist literature, evidence of intent to commit a crime, fireworks or Cuban cigars? Lanier is establishing a precedent that would have horrified the founders of this republic.

What is clearly at work here is the District’s determination to enforce its broad gun ban while it still has nominal power to do so. Never mind that a federal appeals court has ruled the ban unconstitutional, or that most observers of last week’s Supreme Court oral arguments on the issue reported that a majority of justices seem inclined to throw the law out. Never mind that the fundamental constitutional right of gun ownership is at issue. District officials appear to believe their own antipathy to guns outweighs all those pesky concerns about whether the Constitution empowers their confiscations. But the guns they take away today may turn out to be perfectly legal under the Constitution. It would be far better to wait for the high court’s direction than to rush, half-cocked, into this kind of a crackdown."

The mayor and chief of police of the District of Columbia are sending cops door to door asking for permission to search for guns. As the editorial says, they are afraid they are going to lose before the USSC in the Heller case and this might be their last chance to enforce this law before it goes bye-bye.

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