While the Supreme Court has just held that the Second Amendment does protect an individual's right to keep and bear arms, I'm rather surprised that public ignorance of the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, is so high. After all, the courts interpret and apply the Fourth Amendment every day.
Case in point: Calumet College of Saint Joseph President Dennis Rittenmeyer, who wants to cordon off streets all over the nation in the search for illegal weapons.
Numerous people have told me it can't be done, but I don't believe it. Our worsening problem of gun violence requires creative and extraordinary action, and I believe we can do it if we have the will.
And how would Rittenmeyer ensure this Triumph of the Will? He urges us to Think Of The Children.
Yes, I am talking about guns — guns in our streets, guns that kill our children, guns that frighten our citizens, guns that endanger the lives of our law enforcement professionals, guns that destroy our quality of life, guns that are illegal to possess without the required permits.
Rittenmeyer's suggested approach? "Papers please!"
I am not suggesting we take away legally owned and registered firearms. But, as a practical matter, many of the weapons used in crimes are illegal firearms held by individuals without the proper permit. In large measure that is because they are ineligible for such permits — such as convicted felons, for example.
If you have traveled to California recently, you know there are roadblocks set up to apprehend undocumented aliens who have come across our border illegally.
Immigrants can legally cross our borders, but not without the proper papers.
True dat. Yet traditionally in America, the citizen, the lawful resident, and the illegal alike can walk or drive around anywhere, without fear of being detained and searched. Until the Rittenmeyer Plan is put into place, that is. A plan I'm sure will be implemented in neighborhoods rich and poor alike, with roadblocks set up outside the college president's driveway as well as the inner city.
Here in Northwest Indiana, we use roadblocks to check for seat belt violations and to check for drunk drivers. You can drive a car, and you can drink alcohol. You cannot, however, drive drunk or without fastening your seat belt. It is against the law!
If we can create roadblocks for illegal immigrants, seat-belt violators, people who drive while under the influence of alcohol, and for bringing fruits and vegetables into another state, we most certainly can search for illegal weapons.
I want to emphasize this point. We don't necessarily need new laws; we need to proactively enforce the ones we have.
Amen! Laws such as the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits the police from rooting around, without probable cause, through glove compartments, car trunks, handbags, jackets, and pockets, which is where guns, legal or illegal, are generally kept out of plain view.
While random road checks are legal and effective to detect crimes such as DUI or driving without a license, where no search is required to smell breath or receive a license through an open windshield, Rittenmeyer's plan would result either in the most wasteful misuse of police time, as illegal guns are almost always concealed
"You have any illegal guns in there?"
"No sir, officer!"
"You can go about your business. Move along! Move along!"
or would require, as I think he's suggesting, removing drivers from cars and rooting through the cars and searching the drivers, which would be blatantly illegal without individualized suspicion.
It is time to look for solutions to the problem of gun violence and not simply say, "There is nothing we can do about the guns."
Actually, if the cost means giving up my freedom to be unmolested by the police without probable cause for an invasive and intrusive search, I'm more than happy to say there is nothing we can do about the guns, asshat.
What do they teach at the Calumet College of Saint Joseph? Think of the children indeed.