A new law restricting gun rights in the United Kingdom insults the Common Law principle that a man’s home is his castle and is a fair warning for Massachusetts gun owners of what is coming their way.
Or put another way, the trampling of constitutional rights in the manhunt for Boston Marathon bombers, was not a one-off. Rather, it is part of the new way police do business.
“This is an alarming development in Great Britain,” said Alan Gottlieb, the chairman of the Washington State-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “Constitutional activists concerned not only with their Second Amendment rights but also their Fourth Amendment rights.
The British Home Office announced its policy, effective Oct. 15, that allows for warrantless surprise searches. In the previous policy, all gun owners were subject to house searches by appointment.
The new unannounced visits must be based on an intelligence report that there is a threat to public safety afoot. In reality, this red hot intel will amount to some joker whispering to a police officer.
In the United States we see this already in the prank calls to law enforcement that lead to SWAT personnel surrounding unsuspecting families with high-powered military style long guns. This is called “Swatting.”
In California, there is now a new law that allows family members dime out a relative and have the relative’s gun rights taken away. Hardly the legal process one might expect when it came to suspending an American’s constitutional rights.
While English legal traditions have been cast aside, bizarrely there is something of English manners survives. Police officers are cautioned against springing a home search on gun owners at an “unsocial hour” unless the threat is pressing.
Then, there is this gem from the Home Office: “It is recognised that there are no new powers of entry for police or police staff when conducting home visits. To mitigate any misunderstanding on the part of the certificate holder the police must provide a clear and reasoned explanation to the certificate holder at the time of the visit.”
For Americans, the right to keep and bear arms is clear cut and enshrined in the Second Amendment. Their rights to be secure in their homes is set out in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
While on the topic of gun rights, the Massachusetts Constitution abandons citizens to armed criminals and depending on the make-sure-you-go-home-at-the-end-of-the-shift police officers.
But, the state constitution’s Article XIV offers the idea of a man’s home as his castle remaining: “Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures, of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions.”
But, remember after the Boston Marathon bombings? Then, the police went door-to-door looking for the two brothers, with a steady pace fortified with only their triple-time pay and coffee and doughnuts.
England has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world and its support of civil rights is spotty.
The trouble is that liberals look to England as the model to emulate, no longer the model to revolt against. Let’s hope when liberals call come to bring English-style surprise home searches to Massachusetts other voices are willing to speak up.