Police officers in New Mexico can take guns away from drivers who pose no threat. The state supreme court ruled on May 20 that “officer safety” is more important than any constitutional rights a gun-owning motorist might have. The ruling was handed down in deciding the fate of Gregory Ketelson who was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over on November 13, 2008.
During the stop, Hobbs Police Officer Miroslava Bleau saw a 9mm handgun on the back seat floorboard. Ketelson and the driver of the car were ordered out and away from the car while Officer Shane Blevins grabbed the gun. The officers later learned that Ketelson, as a convicted felon, could not legally possess a firearm. The court, however, only considered whether the officers acted properly in taking the gun before they had any reason to suspect Ketelson, who was entirely cooperative during the encounter, of committing a crime.
This is the same shit logic that’s been used in Philadelphia where citizens legally carrying firearms have been harassed by police (and now hit with BS charges for showing up the cops on their legal ignorance).
The Court has demonstrated a stunning misunderstanding of the very basis of Constitutional liberties. Our rights are fundamental, not conditional. Our right to bear arms can only be taken away under certain circumstances, such as being a convicted criminal. There can not be an a priori assumption the police can violate our rights any time they think there might be trouble. You open that door and the entire law enforcement establishment will thunder through it.
The state argued that anyone with a gun should be considered “armed and dangerous”. This is an absurd statement. There are tens of millions of guns in this country and only a tiny tiny fraction are ever used to commit a crime (less than 1 in 10,000 to commit a murder). A car is more dangerous in the hands of a citizen than a gun.
I’m getting very worried about our civil liberties. A few weeks ago, Indiana decided that it was illegal to resist a warrantless search. Then SCOTUS ruled 8-1 that officers hearing the sounds of (maybe) illegal materials being destroyed justified a warrantless search. The PATRIOT Act was reauthorized with no protections for civil liberties, despite the valiant attempts of Rand Paul.
The problem is that we’ve had three Presidents in a row — Clinton, Bush and Obama — who have nominated judges that defer to government authority. It’s been a slow path but we’ve finally reached the destination: a judiciary that never wants to rock the boat, that errs on the side of authority and against liberty, that sees fundamental civil liberties as almost quaint. And given the rhetoric out there and the bizarre passion of politicians to look “though on crime/drugs/terrorism” in their judicial appointments, I see little hope of reversing this trend.
Hold on your butts (and guns). We’re in for a bumpy ride.