Thursday, April 20, 2006
getting their guns back. Apparently the NRA brought suit and the authorities caved. But I have an issue with this:
"Some owners complained it was difficult to get them back. Gun owners must bring a bill of sale or an affidavit with the weapon's serial number. Police also are running criminal background checks on those claiming weapons.
Some gun owners found the weapons were evidence in a crime and not eligible for release. Others did not have the proper paperwork."
It appears that there were three situations under which guns were confiscated.
1. Guns found in empty homes, owners had evacuated.
2. Guns taken from homes when police arrived to evacuate the residents.
3. Guns found not in homes and not with people.
It's hard to have a problem with police taking the third type, and some solid evidence should probably be required to get them back. I also have no problem with running the background checks; there's no sense in giving guns back to felons. As a matter of prudence it may have been wise to take the guns in categories 1 and 2, especially 1, and 2 if the residents were headed to a common shelter area, otherwise not so much. But there should, even in an emergency situation, have been some way to ensure that the firearms would be returned to their rightful owners. If police were going to put in the extra effort to confiscate guns, how hard would it have been to throw an evidence tag with the address (category 1) or name (category 2) of the owner on each? There were only about 700 collected.
Administrative ease isn’t accepted as a reason to trample on other rights, why should Second Amendment rights be any different? Of course they're treated as if they are, but I'm an individual rights interpretation kind of guy (SURPRISE!). I think Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski put it well:
"It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as spring-boards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us." Silveira v. Lockyer, 328 F.3d 567, 568 (9th Cir. 2003) (Kozinski, J., dissenting)
Furthermore, I imagine a lot of these guns were very valuable, either monetarily or sentimentally. For the government to take property with little intention of restoring it to its rightful owner unless that owner provides what he most likely cannot (especially given that a lot of personal records were surely destroyed in the flood) seems, well, wrong. But then again, a lot of things got screwed up after Katrina, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. How about some more Kozinski?
"My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed--where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once." Id. at 570.
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