The Corner

Second Amendment, Fourth Amendment . . . Who Cares?

From the Seattle Times:

“I’m a liberal Democrat — I’ve voted for only one Republican in my life,” Palmer told me. “But now I understand why my right-wing opponents worry about having to fight a government takeover.”

He added: “It’s exactly this sort of thing that drives people into the arms of the NRA.”

I spoke to two of the sponsors. One, Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, a lawyer who typically is hyper-attuned to civil-liberties issues, said he did not know the bill authorized police searches because he had not read it closely before signing on.

“I made a mistake,” Kline said. “I frankly should have vetted this more closely.”

That lawmakers sponsor bills they haven’t read is common. Still, it’s disappointing on one of this political magnitude. Not counting a long table, it’s only an eight-page bill.

The prime sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, also condemned the search provision in his own bill, after I asked him about it. He said Palmer is right that it’s probably unconstitutional.

“I have to admit that shouldn’t be in there,” Murray said.

What are they discussing? Why, it’s Washington State’s new “assault weapons” ban.

“They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away. But then you see this, and you have to wonder.”

That’s no gun-rights absolutist talking, but Lance Palmer, a Seattle trial lawyer and self-described liberal who brought the troubling Senate Bill 5737 to my attention. It’s the long-awaited assault-weapons ban, introduced last week by three Seattle Democrats.

Responding to the Newtown school massacre, the bill would ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons that use detachable ammunition magazines. Clips that contain more than 10 rounds would be illegal.

But then, with respect to the thousands of weapons like that already owned by Washington residents, the bill says this:

“In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”

In other words, come into homes without a warrant to poke around. Failure to comply could get you up to a year in jail.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air puts this attitude perfectly:

Oh, let’s not call them searchesLet’s call them inspections, just a small price for gun owners to pay for exercising a right explicitly protected in the Constitution, and without any probable cause apparent for a crime being committed. After all, we know that will convince criminals not to keep weapons, right? Right?

Not only do Washington’s lawmakers appear to want to tread on the Second Amendment in order to stop the sale of rifles that look scary, but until they were called on it they were happy to throw the Fourth Amendment under the bus as well. The unhappy truth is that many lawmakers in this country simply don’t take the Second Amendment seriously, and are content blunting other basic rights in the process of its abridgment.

This reminds me of a TV segment I once saw in which Patrick Buchanan said:

All right, let me give you some ideas. Suppose the press was told you cannot cover this. You’re not to give this guy any publicity. We’re going to have a dead silence on it. This guy’s going to be brought in. We’re going to have a quick trial, and we’re going to hang him. You’d say that violated the First Amendment right, but you will go ahead and violate the Second Amendment.

Don’t give them any ideas, Patrick . . .


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