Bizarro World Second-Amendment Decisions

In D.C. Comic’s fictional “Bizarro World,” all things are done opposite of here on Earth. According to the “Bizarro Code,” inhabitants of the cube-shaped planet “hate beauty,” “love ugliness” and consider it illegal to “make anything perfect.” Ironically, here on planet Earth, many liberals – and a disturbing number of judges – subscribe to a similar Bizarro Code when considering matters involving the Second Amendment. To these Earth-bound Bizarro Code adherents, it should be — and in some cases is — illegal to legally exercise the fundamental, constitutionally-guaranteed right to possess a firearm.

While the Supreme Court, and a number of other courts across the country, have made progress in recent years in rolling-back some of the more onerous restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, the trend is by no means uniform; especially regarding concealed carry.

For example, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in January that mere lawful possession of a firearm poses a danger to society. Specifically – and incredibly – that court opined that there is an inherent risk in “a person who is armed even when the firearm is legally possessed.” While some may laud this ruling as a move to protect police officers facing armed suspects, its potential scope is far broader and more problematic.

The opinion opens the door for the search of any concealed carry permit holder, regardless of whether the individual ran a stop sign, was selling cocaine, or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In effect, this federal court of appeals decision means that simply exercising one’s Second Amendment right to possess a firearm negates that person’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

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As Slate Editor Mark Joseph Stern noted recently, the real-world consequences of the Fourth Circuit’s “logic” did not take long to play-out in another federal Circuit — the 11th (which includes Alabama, Florida and Georgia). In March, that Circuit threw out a lawsuit against a Florida police officer who fatally shot an apartment resident who happened to be holding a lawful firearm when he answered the door late at night after the officer unexpectedly banged on the door. 

The gun owner’s only “crime” was legally having a firearm in his hand, inside his home, when answering an unexpected loud knock on his door late at night.

This is far from the only example of such Second Amendment perfidy by judges in recent years. In 2015, Corey Jones, who possessed a lawful concealed carry permit, was leaving a band gig at 3:00 AM when his car broke down in an undesirable part of town. When a white van with tinted windows pulled in front of him and a man wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap exited, Jones apparently grabbed his firearm.  This move to lawfully protect himself was answered without warning by the plain-clothed law enforcement officer driving the van, shooting Jones dead.  

These incidents hit close to home for all responsible gun owners; especially those who carry firearms for self-defense. These and many other such incidents illustrate not uncommon situations in which law-abiding individuals find themselves, and when having a firearm for self-defense is most needed. Yet, despite some progress on gun rights, a worsening problem within states and local jurisdictions due to wrong-headed court rulings, or simply bad police training, are placing gun owners directly in danger by criminalizing the very act of possessing a firearm.

The problem is made worse by the prevalence of data-sharing with so-called “Fusion Centers.” These largely unregulated centers take vast quantities of personal information on citizens that has been collected from both public and confidential sources, and disseminate it to law enforcement agencies at all levels across the country. Thanks to this growing, government-based “Dark Net,” firearms owners can look forward to more harassment; such as Maryland transportation police who stand accused of using concealed permit data that they apparently can access at the touch of a computer screen in their vehicles, to stop out-of-state drivers.

Rolling back this tide of anti-Second Amendment court decisions requires continued and aggressive efforts by the National Rifle Association (which is holding its annual convention in Atlanta this week) and other Second Amendment-focused civil liberties organizations.  They – and we — need to support the appointment and election of judges, police chiefs, sheriffs, state legislators,  and members of Congress who live in and understand the real world and our real Bill of Rights; and who are not beholden to some Bizarro World Constitution in which “shall not be infringed” means “shall be infringed.”

  • DrArtaud

    A topic of great concern to me. Several factors I don’t think many people consider.

    1. Police work is not as dangerous as most people think. It’s dangerous, I said “not as”. There are lists of the top 10 most dangerous jobs. Police routinely come in as #10 or #11.

    For instance:

    Video – Lighthearted Look at: The Most Dangerous Job: HV Cable Inspector – 500,000 Volts!

    Though the caption above says that the Cable Inspector is the most dangerous job, I’m willing to bet there’s jobs more dangerous. I worked as an industrial electrician, it’s not as dangerous as the example above, but we had 3000 HP motors that ran on 15,000 volts. And the bus supplied multiple motors, so the current potential was great, when things go wrong they go real wrong.

    2. Conservative authors and commenters wrongfully go out of their way to guard police with no respect to the circumstances. There are exceptionally good police and exceptionally bad ones. We need to encourage police departments to purge the bad ones. Castille, a black man that, at the time, recently licensed to carry concealed, was shot to death by an overly ambitious police officer that no doubt was alarmed by the race of the victim. The police refused to verify if Castille had a valid carry permit, leading to the theory and rumor that he didn’t, and I believe Castille’s parents produced the paperwork that accompanied the permit, proving he was licensed. After rumors raged, it was discovered that the handgun was found by paramedics deep in Castille’s pocket, not in his lap, that Castille was properly licensed, that the offending officer’s partner was surprised that his partner shot as he had neither heard or seen anything to justify it, and that Castille was not wanted for a holdup that purportedly occurred earlier. To compound matters, Castille’s girlfriend (she streamed the shooting) was arrested months later for attacking someone with a hatchet and in the Conservative community some felt that vindicated the actions of the officer against Castille.

    I have a friend that carries and was returning home from hunting. He was stopped, the officer asked if he could examine the breach of the hunting rifle, to which he replied that he could, but my friend was carrying concealed and he told the officer, explaining it was under license, and exiting the vehicle would expose his pistol. The officer immediately drew his gun and keeping the muzzle down but pointed in the direction of my friend, instructed how my friend was to hand over his legally licensed concealed weapon.

    Another time, my son took a different tact. He and a friend had stopped to walk trails near evening. Two police cars pulled up, the officers talked with my son and friend. Suddenly the friend blurted out he was carrying. Of course they took his license and gun, and took my son’s driver license. One officer returned and asked my son if he was carrying too, which he affirmed, and offered his concealed carry license. The officer had already seen that info on his car’s computer, but wanted to examine my son’s gun. My son had the officer remove it lest there be a misunderstanding. Though the incident ended fine, this obsession with police wanting to examine the gun has to end, police are assuming you’re guilty of carrying something illegal, and they likely are creating a database of gun types, serial numbers, and owners. If you’ve broken no laws, they should be comfortable knowing that others are armed. It’s hopefully going to become more widespread, a national concealed carry right if you will, police need to end these abuses against lawful concealed carry.

    3. Carrying concealed, I’d advise immense caution viewing the following, one is an officer’s demand for ID in the absence of a weapon, the second demand for ID in the presence of a concealed carry weapon. Without suspicion of a crime, police are really not entitled to pump you for information. Some of these protests by people over ID have resulted in the officer shooting someone to death, but I’m including these to demonstrate that we are not required to respond to every request by an officer. Both of these ask for a supervisor. Though some supervisors may be incredibly ignorant of the law, this is generally not the case.

    Video: Cop Gets Shut Down by His Sergeant

    Video: Smart man puts a Policeman right in his place

    Might it be safer if police disarm lawful concealed carry holders for traffic stops and minor incidents, not likely, additional handling of the weapon increases the likelihood of a “negligent discharge”. Are criminals going to have records that they are in possession of a weapon, absolutely not, yet these are the people most likely to shoot an officer.

    Video: Cop accidentally shoots gun in classroom full of kids. – The officer just got done saying he’s the only one qualified to handle the gun. Frightening.

    Is the question might we be safer if police don’t have guns? (see the above video)

  • earlturner69

    And when they illegally search me, I file a civil rights suit.