Mere presence of gun prompts no-knock raid

By Bob Unruh

Texas law-enforcement officers conducted a no-knock raid as if a firearm in the home “could somehow load itself, disengage its own safety, open the door, and begin to fire at the police,” according to a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorneys with William Olson P.C. and the the United States Justice Foundation submitted the friend-of-the-court brief this week in a case brought on behalf of John Quinn.

Quinn was targeted by police because his son – who was suspected of possessing drugs – lived in the same home. His son was absent, and police records reveal they knew that fact when officers broke into Quinn’s home in a no-knock, SWAT-team style forced entry.

The state admits the raid was based “solely on the suspicion that there were legally owned firearms in the household.”

The brief was filed by the U.S. Justice Foundation, Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Abraham Lincoln Foundation, Institute on the Constitution, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, U.S. Border Control Foundation, Policy Analysis Center, Downsize DC Foundation and Downsize DC.

The case began in August 2006 when police in Collin County, Texas, got a warrant for Quinn’s home. Lower courts rejected Quinn’s objection to the “no-knock” entry on the grounds that because police had information that guns were present at the residence, they were justified in making a forced and unannounced invasion.

WND reported a week ago that lawyers with the Rutherford Institute, who are representing Quinn, asked whether the state could demand that Quinn relinquish his Second Amendment rights to keep his Fourth Amendment rights.

They argued that tradeoff was impermissible.

“Although police had obtained a search warrant for John Quinn’s home based on information that Quinn’s son might possess drugs, the warrant did not authorize police to enter the residence without knocking and announcing their entry. During the raid, Quinn was shot by police because he had reached for his lawfully owned firearm, thinking that his home was being invaded by criminals,” Rutherford explained.

The new friend-of-the-court brief challenges the actions.

“John Quinn lawfully kept firearms in his home for self-defense, exercising a freedom which this court has recognized to be a ‘core’ and ‘fundamental’ right protected by the 2nd Amendment. Yet based on the presence of firearms alone, the police conducted a no-knock raid, smashing down Quinn’s front door in the middle of the night, leading to his being shot. The police knew that Quinn’s son, Brian, the target of the raid, was not at home, and they knew that Quinn was a law abiding man. Indeed, the state of Texas had certified him as such by licensing him to carry a concealed weapon. Yet the Texas court embraced the prosecution’s theory that the police were in such grave danger from a sleeping man and an inanimate object that they were permitted to dispense with 4th Amendment requirement to knock on the door and announce themselves.”

If such a precedent stands, the brief argues, the Fourth Amendment essentially has been discontinued.

“At common law, a person was presumed a trespasser if he was present on the property of another without permission, as the police were in this case. Thus, the police needed to justify their presence in Quinn’s home. Although they had a warrant to search the home, they did not have any valid legal justification for using a battering ram to get through the door, making them nothing more than trespassers,” the brief argues.

“If the police are now permitted to justify no-knock raids any time there is a firearm in a residence, no American home is safe from a terrifying, middle of the night, home invasion.”

The Rutherford attorneys said the exercise of one constitutional right “may not permissibly be conditioned on the forfeiture of another constitutional right.”

“The court denounced such a Catch-22, stating that it is ‘intolerable that one constitutional right should have to be surrendered in order to assert another,'” the attorneys said. “Yet that is precisely what happened to Quinn. In order to preserve his Fourth Amendment right to have the police ‘knock and announce’ their presence before breaking down his door, Quinn was required to forgo his 2nd Amendment right to keep a firearm in his home.”

John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute and author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” said that whatever the issue might be, “whether it’s mass surveillance, no-knock raids, or the right to freely express one’s views about the government, we’ve moved into a new age in which the rights of the citizenry are being treated as a secondary concern by the White House, Congress, the courts, and their vast holding of employees, including law enforcement officials.”

“The disconnect, of course, is that the Constitution establishes a far different scenario in which government officials, including the police, are accountable to ‘we the people,'” he said. ‘For it to be otherwise, for government concerns to trump individual freedoms, with government officials routinely sidestepping the Constitution and reinterpreting the law to their own purposes, makes a mockery of everything this nation is supposed to stand for – self-government, justice, and the rule of law.

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