Cops are using lawful gun ownership as justification for entering homes unannounced
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal and refused to hear the case of a man in Texas who was SWAT teamed by police in a ‘no-knock’ raid, under the justification that he was a registered gun owner.
A lower court had originally ruled that police acted within the law when they entered John Quinn’s house unannounced on the suspicion that he had legally-owned firearms in his possession.
By refusing to grant a petition for certiorari on the ruling, the Supreme Court has essentially sanctioned the notion that police need not abide by the Fourth Amendment if they suspect there are firearms in a person’s home. The refusal to hear the case also upholds significant intrusions on Second Amendment rights.
The case, dating back to 2006, has been bouncing around the courts ever since. At that time, Collin County (Texas) police had obtained a search warrant on Mr Quinn’s house, after receiving an indication that his son may have been in possession of drugs.
Because Mr Quinn was a registered gun owner, cops waited until the dead of night and then forcibly entered his home without warning, in what seems like completely backward logic. Police even shot Mr Quinn as he reached for a firearm, believing that he was being burgled by thieves. The raid turned up less than one gram of cocaine, for which Quinn was charged.
Civil rights group The Rutherford Institute took up the case following the lower court rejection of Quinn’s objection to the “no-knock” entry. In the petition to the Supreme Court, Rutherford attorneys presented the argument that Americans legally owning firearms and exercising Second Amendment rights is not sufficient grounds to define police as being in danger during the execution of search warrants. Thus, attorneys submitted, the raid was unconstitutional.
“Whatever the issue might be, whether it’s mass surveillance, no-knock raids, or the right to freely express one’s views about the government, we’ve moved into a new age in which the rights of the citizenry are being treated as a secondary concern by the White House, Congress, the courts, and their vast holding of employees, including law enforcement officials,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
“The disconnect, of course, is that the Constitution establishes a far different scenario in which government officials, including the police, are accountable to ‘we the people.’” Whitehead added.
“For it to be otherwise, for government concerns to trump individual freedoms, with government officials routinely sidestepping the Constitution and reinterpreting the law to their own purposes, makes a mockery of everything this nation is supposed to stand for—self-government, justice, and the rule of law.” he concluded.
It is becoming increasingly commonplace for police departments to use SWAT teams to perform regulatory inspections of homes. In many cases, the raids, which effectively amount to warrantless searches, are either unannounced, or happen so quickly that those inside the house have no idea what is happening.
Federal appeals courts continue to rule that this activity is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Obviously this presents a significant risk that armed Americans will instinctively defend their property from invasion, which is why in so many cases people and pets, as well as police, end up being shot or even killed.