July 28, 2004

House to House Confiscations?

FreedomSight has a disturbing story up that you should read.

Matt from Stop The Bleating also e-mailed me some information he received about the incident in question, but it was nothing that Freedom Sight hadn't covered.

The gist of it is that a cop in Oshkosh, Wisconsin was shot in the arm. He's been released from the hospital & appears to be alright. He was shot while talking to another officer in the middle of a neighborhood.

Police then went door to door asking people to hand over their firearms. They were assured the firearms would be returned once it was determined that the firearm was not the one used to shoot the officer. From my understanding the searches were consentual.

Why is that disturbing? After all, weren't the searches & subsequent confiscations consensual?

Perhaps. The reports are a bit sketchy (as of this writing) but I would question whether the searches were truly consensual in that they lacked coercion on the part of the local cops.

When your street is being saturated with cops, & then answer the knock on your door to find multiple cops (in some cases S.W.A.T.) asking to have your guns because a cop was just shot then I'd imagine that a reasonable person would feel a bit intimidated. Whether this was intentional or not such intimidation would taint any consent to search (in my opinion, based on soem case law I read years back about consentual searches).

But as I said reports are sketchy at the moment.

Still, sweeping a neighborhood for firearms is of itself a disturbing thing to see happen in any state. It does imply that innocent must be proven, therefore guilt is assumed. Not to mention setting up the real potential for harm to the persons who surrendered their Arms. Not only does the possibility of incrimination come up (as it's possible that one of the firearms turns up as stolen or as similar to one used in some crime or that the person is prohibited from owning a firearm for some reason) but so does the possibility of damage to the firearms themselves. A collectible rifle in 90% condition won't gain value should a long scratch appear down the barrel from careless handling. & it's not unheard of for people to have trouble getting their firearms back from the police even after they've been cleared of wrongdoing.

The people of Oshkosh should have refused the request to have their homes searched & to turn over their firearms. But it's entirely possible that there was some coercion, eithe rintentional or unintentional, on the part of the police that affected the residences decision.

Heavily armed cops show up at your door late at night asking for you to let them search your house & take away any guns cause a cop was just shot: would you feel comfortable saying no?

But as I keep saying the reports are a bit sketchy. I'll try to keep my eye on this.

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