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Should gun owners have privacy, be secure from searches?

At least one Seattle Times reader thinks it would be fine for police to do unscheduled, warrantless searches of gun owners' homes.
At least one Seattle Times reader thinks it would be fine for police to do unscheduled, warrantless searches of gun owners' homes.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

An intriguing story in yesterday’s Mint Press News, asking whether the Fourth Amendment applies to gun owners, coincidentally appeared as a Seattle Times reader, weighing in on a weekend story about firearms injuries in Washington, suggested that “unscheduled warrantless visits” by law enforcement to the homes of gun owners “Sounds like a good idea to me.”

The Evergreen State is becoming a hotbed for anti-gun activity that – if successful this fall – could open the floodgate for similar pushes across the country. Initiative 594, an 18-page gun control measure being promoted as a “universal background check” proposal, is considered by critics to be a rather broad push by well-financed Seattle–area elitists supported by Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It is something of a petri dish measure to see how this kind of “citizen initiative” might fare, and Washington is the test tube.

Bloomberg has billions, and he plans to spend some of that money on various races in the fall. He’s no longer New York’s mayor, which leaves him with plenty of time on his hands to do things, including last Friday’s interview with Katie Couric, during which he acknowledged that he can outspend the National Rifle Association.

The Mint Press story is about a Texas case in which police in Collin County searched the home of a gun-owning family without knocking or announcing themselves because they were investigating whether the homeowner’s son possessed illegal drugs. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case.

The Seattle Times story, which some readers suggested was more like a gun control advocacy piece, drew more than 325 responses from readers, many arguing with one another. But near what is probably the end of this particular discussion – the Times shuts down reader comments after 72 hours – came the observation that police searches of a gun owner’s home without a warrant made sense to one Seattle reader.

Gun control advocates seem to have no qualms about subjecting gun owners to all manner of invasive checking and regulation, not to mention invasions of privacy. How would that idea fare if, instead of firearms, cops were allowed to just walk into any Seattle home to see if the owner was growing marijuana in the basement? No knock, no warrant, no real reason other than “they can” would apply.

What would the public response be to, say, a newspaper that revealed the names and addresses of King County pot growers, as did a newspaper in New York’s Westchester County in late 2012 with the names of licensed gun owners?

There is supposed to be a press event in Seattle today for what is presumably the official kick-off of the I-594 campaign, that will no doubt take a distant back seat to the tragic helicopter crash outside Fisher Plaza and KOMO. No word yet whether that event will be re-scheduled because it is supposed to be at the Seattle Center, almost across the street from KOMO.

The State Legislature took no action on the initiative, or the competing Initiative 591, which would require background checks to comply with a uniform national standard, meaning they could not be more invasive or restrictive than the kind of check conducted anywhere in the country. It is sponsored by Protect Our Gun Rights.

Perhaps someone will ask the organizers of this event if they think the idea of warrantless, unscheduled searches of gun owners’ homes “sounds like a good idea.” If the organizers deflect that question or simply decline to answer, that should tell everything anyone needs to know.


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