Imagine if Republicans in Utah or Alabama, responding to a horrifying sex crime, introduced a bill allowing warrantless searches of homosexuals’ homes to make sure they weren’t holding little boys as sex slaves.
The national media would be discussing this gross violation of the Fourth Amendment incessantly, using it as an example of how fundamentally fascist the Republican Party is — everywhere.
Cut to Washington State: in this case, liberal Democrats in the legislature have introduced an assault weapon ban that includes annual inspections of the homes of people that already own assault weapons to make sure that they are being safely stored.
There is no need for a warrant; there is no probable cause requirement; and the Seattle Times columnist writing about this clearly unconstitutional law observes that the sponsors include “Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, a lawyer who typically is hyper-attuned to civil-liberties issues.”
After a stream of criticism, the author withdrew the warrantless search section of the bill, calling it a “mistake.” Yet, as Bryan Preston points out, the warrantless search section — word for word — was included in bills by Kline in 2009 and 2005.
Mistake? I think he was just finally caught and called out this time.
What makes this especially outrageous: not only are they ignoring the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee regarding warrantless searches and the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms, but also the Washington State Constitution’s guarantee of the right to bear arms.
Before liberals attempt to defend not only warrantless searches but also to claim that “assault weapons” are not protected: the Supreme Court of the State of Washington has recognized by name the AR-15 as a constitutionally protected arm.
The case was an ugly one: State v. Rupe (Washington, 1984). The defendant was convicted of murdering the two women who worked at a branch office of Tumwater State Bank. Rupe had left his bloodstained checkbook on the counter in the midst of the robbery, and was convicted on a combination of evidence including testimony of conspirators. No, Rupe did not use an AR-15; he used a revolver. So how did an AR-15 end up in this case?
Rupe was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Yet during the penalty phase of his trial, the prosecutor told the jury that Rupe owned a CAR-15 (the collapsible stock version of the AR-15) even though it had not been used in the crime. The reason: the prosecutor believed this constituted evidence that Rupe was a very bad man, because he owned guns “good for only one purpose — killing others in combat.” (Rupe testified that he used the CAR-15 for varmint hunting, which is not an uncommon use of that rifle.)
Because this was a capital case, Rupe’s attorney filed a long list of exceptions hoping that the Washington State Supreme Court would overturn his conviction or at least the death penalty. The Washington State Supreme Court generally went along with the lower court on everything except one item: the attempt to sway the jury by the introduction of Rupe’s ownership of an assault weapon. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that allowing Rupe’s ownership of such weapons into evidence during the death penalty phase of the trial would have a chilling effect on a constitutionally protected right: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself.” After all, if the exercise of a constitutional right can be turned against you under those conditions, it discourages people from exercising that right for fear of what might happen in the future.
I’m sure that some (gun-control advocates) would rationalize why the Washington State Supreme Court was wrong: after all, anyone that would own a gun like that is obviously a mass murderer in the making.
If that is your argument, return to the scenario at the start of this article: how different is your argument from an assumption that John Wayne Gacy is a typical homosexual?
One of the great dangers of democracy, and one of the reasons the Bill of Rights puts so many impediments into majority rule, is because in times of passion, voters ask for or tolerate the passage of laws that a bit more time for reflection would show to be irrational.
This particular bill demonstrates that liberal Democrats are every bit as capable of ignoring the Constitution as anything that is alleged to be in the Patriot Act.