The Biden Administration has asked the SCOTUS to uphold the ruling in Caniglia v. Strom. If you believe in the Second and Fourth Amendment, it’s a very disturbing case because of the precedent it would set.
Edward Caniglia and Kim Caniglia were long time married couple and after a long argument, he put an unloaded handgun on the table and said, “Why don’t you just shoot me and get me out of my misery?” She left, returned, they continued fighting and she went to a hotel for the night. The next morning, she called, didn’t get an answer and requested a wellness check from the police. When they arrived, Mr. Caniglia seemed to have calmed down and said he would “never” commit suicide. For unknown reasons, the police didn’t believe him and asked him to get a psychological evaluation. Mr. Caniglia agreed only after the police promised they wouldn’t confiscate his guns and ammunition. They also lied to his wife and told her Edward had given them permission to take the guns. She showed them where the weapons were and they took them.
Note the situation here. There was no crime committed, no imminent threat of any sort, no proof that Mr. Canigula was a threat to himself or others and no warrant. Yet, they took his weapons. This is being contested mainly on 4th Amendment grounds, because that Amendment protects Americans from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The Biden Administration’s frightening argument in this case is that:
“A warrant should not … be presumptively required when a government official’s action is objectively grounded in a non-investigatory public interest, such as health or safety…The ultimate question in this case is therefore not whether the respondent officers’ actions fit within some narrow warrant exception, but instead whether those actions were reasonable. And under all of the circumstances here, they were.”
If this troubling argument were accepted, it would essentially obliterate the 4th Amendment because the exceptions they are asking for are anything but “narrow.” The number of issues that many people in 2021 consider to be related to “health” and “safety” are practically infinite.
How will this play out? It’s hard to say for sure, but the fact that even very liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor seems to have some significant concerns about how this case was handled may be a good sign,
The problem “is the next step” the officers took, Sotomayor maintained, “which is going into the home without attempt to secure consent from the wife and seizing the gun and then keeping it indefinitely until a lawsuit is filed.”
“The wife tried to get [the gun] back,” Sotomayor noted. “He tried to get it back. Weeks and weeks went by. When we permit police to search and seize without some standard, we run the risk of situations like this one repeating themselves.”
The whole idea that a police officer should be able to enter your home and just make a snap decision about whether you’re allowed to have guns that can only be reversed by a court ruling runs absolutely counter to the Constitution in letter and spirit. Let’s hope the Supreme Court also sees it that way.
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