+ SWAT wants to see your alcohol permit
City with strictest gun control laws has most officers killed by gunfire
Posted by Mike Bauman • December 15, 2010
Chicago Mayor's Failed Social Policies Continue to Cost Citizens
By Mike Bauman
The City of Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation. Up until a few months ago, it was illegal for a private citizen to own or possess a handgun anywhere within the city, including in one's own home. For 2010, Chicago also holds another distinction. More Chicago Police Officers were killed by gunfire this year than any other police agency in the nation. The city also boasts one of the highest violent crime rates in the country, with 1 in 89 residents being victims of violent crime last year.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc., the City of Chicago had five police officers killed in the line of duty this year. Four of those were killed by gunfire. This, despite the fact that until June of this year, Chicago did not allow the licensing of handguns. In order to lawfully possess a handgun in Chicago, a citizen was required to have a license. In effect, the Chicago law banned having any type of handgun.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled Chicago's ban violated its citizens' Second Amendment Rights. Long-time Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley, and the Chicago City Council, then reworked the city's laws, making it possible, but extremely expensive and difficult, to obtain a handgun license, clinging desperately to the hope that strict gun control laws would decrease crime in their city. When asked by Mick Dumke, of the Chicago Reader, if the city's firearms restrictions had helped, given the city's high rate of violent crime, Daley picked up a rifle from a news conference display and responded, "If I put this up your—ha!—your butt—ha ha!—you’ll find out how effective this is!"
In this case, it would appear more restrictions on firearms do not equal a safer community.
Chicago’s ban on gun ranges challenged in court
By Amanda Carey - The Daily Caller | Published: 2:23 AM 12/15/2010 | Updated: 2:47 PM 12/15/2010
By Amanda Carey - The Daily Caller
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Amanda Carey is a political reporter at the Daily Caller. She previously worked for Robert Novak and Reason Magazine. Carey is a graduate of Clemson University in South Carolina.
Man shooting pistol at paper target
When the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago over the summer that the right to bear arms does apply to the states, the victory’s sweetness for conservatives was short-lived. Almost immediately, gun-rights advocates braced themselves for more battles against the city’s many regulatory hurdles and licensing schemes.
And there were plenty. Just days after Chicago’s gun ban was ruled unconstitutional, the city council unanimously approved the Responsible Gun Ownership Ordinance. One of its provisions is that all Chicago residents must present a signed affidavit from a firearms instructor, saying the prospective gun owner completed a training and safety course that includes at least one hour of range time.
There’s just one problem. The city of Chicago bans gun ranges. The only ranges in the city are available to federal employees and police.
Now — in what looks to be shaping into one of the more important post-McDonald lawsuits — Ezell v. Chicago has already reached the appeals court level. In the case, Alan Gura is challenging the city’s gun range ban. Gura is the same attorney who successfully argued before the Supreme Court the McDonald case and 2008’s DC v. Heller, which decided that an individual right to bear arms exists in federal enclaves like Washington, D.C.
In the lawsuit filed this past August, Gura sought a complete injunction of the ban, arguing it was too severe of a burden against a right the Supreme Court had deemed constitutional. His suit sought to immediately halt the ban’s enforcement until its constitutionality can be reviewed.
In October, however, Judge Virginia Kendall denied Gura’s request on the grounds that the plaintiffs could not prove they were unable to go outside the city to access a gun range. So, last week he responded by filing an appeal with the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In his appeal, Gura challenges the city’s argument that the ban is warranted because gun ranges “pose considerable public safety, health, and environmental concerns,” reduces the risk of illegal transfers of firearms, and prevents difficult regulatory challenges.
As another defense, Chicago claimed that even without the ban, zoning regulations would make range construction impossible. This is despite the fact that Chicago Zoning Administrator Patricia Scudiero – who would be tasked with reviewing the zoning rules – testified in court that she “has never been to a gun range, has never read or studied any literature about gun ranges, has no experience or education with either the structure or operation of gun ranges, and has never investigated gun ranges for zoning purposes.”
“The Second Amendment guarantees a right to use and operate gun ranges…shooting at a range is also in and of itself a traditional lawful use of firearms secured by that amendment,” wrote Gura in his appeal. “Thus, while Defendant [Chicago] may regulate ranges in the interest of public health and safety, it cannot completely ban them, whatever its purported reasons.”
He went on to say that, “In electing to make regular range training a prerequisite for home gun possession, the City deprives itself of any theoretical ability to ban ranges needed for that training. Chicago cannot ban something it mandates as a condition of exercising a fundamental right.”
The city’s defense, however, that gun enthusiasts should be content with going outside the city to shoot for sport is nothing new. Recently, in fact, Justice Stephen Breyer appeared on Fox News and asked host Chris Wallace, “Are you a sportsman? Do you like to shoot pistols at targets? Well, get on the subway and go to Maryland. There is no problem, I don’t think, for anyone who really wants to have a gun.”
Breyer also made that argument during the Heller hearings, when he actually cited a copy of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail System Map. Writing in his dissent, the Supreme Court justice said, “And while the District law prevents citizens from training with handguns within the District, the District consists of only 61.4 square miles of urban area. The adjacent States do permit the use of handguns for target practice, and those States are only a brief subway ride away.”
But gun advocates argue that the ban on ranges is more like a de facto ban on guns altogether since it is a strong disincentive for residents to pursue legal gun ownership.
When contacted by The Daily Caller, a spokesperson for IllinoisCarry – an organization dedicated to securing the right to conceal carry – said, “The fact that training is required but ranges where that training can take place are banned in the city is an outright ploy to deny folks the right to protect themselves.”
The spokesperson went on to point out that the state of Illinois is the only state in the nation that has no provision on the books for lawfully carrying a handgun. “One only has to look at the rest of the nation and see that Chicago is out of step,” she added.
“This case really hinges on the issue of what kind of limitations the state can impose on gun rights,” Josh Blackman, teaching fellow at the Pennsylvania State University School of Law, told TheDC. “There is this notion that this right to keep and bear arms isn’t so important, so you can burden people to have to travel outside city limits.”
And although Blackman acknowledged the DC v. Heller case recognized a city’s authority to impose “competency requirements,” the question now is determining what falls in that category. The city of Chicago, says Blackman, went too far and ended up treating the right to bear arms more like a privilege.
“How should this constitutional right be treated as compared to other constitutional rights?” said Blackman. “No other right is treated this way.”
“The Second Amendment is kind of turned on its head,” Blackman added. “It’s like ‘okay you have this right, but how do you make sure other people don’t get hurt?’ The only focus is on minimizing potential damage, and with others the focus is on maximizing liberty.”
When contacted by theDC, Gura said “We have a strong case. Chicago’s range ban is plainly unconstitutional, and I look forward to the final outcome.”
As it stands, Ezell could end up being the most significant of the post-McDonald cases because it focuses exclusively on the extent cities can go to regulate gun ownership, and what rights are corollaries of the Second Amendment right to bear arms and to self defense. As Blackman put it, this case will “flesh out the contours of what Second Amendment protects.”
And because the Supreme Court has ruled the right to own a gun is guaranteed by the Constitution, it may (depending on the course Ezell takes) have to next decide what state- or city-imposed limitations to that right are acceptable.
Did you hear the one about the Anti-Gun Senator shooting an intruder?
Posted on December 14, 2010 by Brad Kozak
Stop me if you’ve heard this one…a blowhard, anti-gun Senator rags on gun owners, day in and day out. So one night, he’s at home, living his Life O’Reily, when an intruder shows up to burgle/home invade/rob/commit mayhem. What’s a poor Progressive that abhors gun ownership to do? Silly wabbit! If they are a state senator, they do what any other gun owner would do – they pull out their gun and air condition the criminal with a little lead. Ventilate the varmint. Give him lead poisoning. Shoot the muther. (You get my drift.)
EDITOR’S NOTE: After this story went live we discovered that “on Sunday” referred to a Sunday in 2009. One of the problems with journalism (even print journalism) is that there’s no substitute for getting ALL the details. It seems that the author (that would be ME) checked the facts, but neglected to look at the date on the original story. I my defense, the case (as far as I can tell) against Soles is still wending it’s way through the court system as we speak. But it’s not the “Late Breaking News” that we like to feature hear on TTAG. Because we have a deep, abiding respect for the truth (hey – it’s in our NAME), we wanted to let you know here that we dropped the ball, and we’ll do our best to do better. Promise.
Only this isn’t a joke. It happened on Sunday. Seems die-hard, left-wing, anti-gun crusader and N.C. state senator R.C. Soles, 74, shot one of two intruders at his home just outside Tabor City , N.C. about 5 p.m. Sunday. Of course this “Do as I say (I command you!), don’t do as I do” leitmotif has been a constant theme in the political career of Herr Soles for the durration. Funny how those libs talk a good game, but when it comes to protecting home and hearth, they suddenly go all John McClain on the bad guys, hmm?
No fool, this Soles, he refused to comment on his actions, standing behind the time-tested saw, “this is an active investigation.” Nice.
Here’s this, from the Star News Online:
State Sen. R.C. Soles shot one of two people who he said were breaking into his Tabor City home about 5 p.m. Sunday, officials said.
Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten said Kyle Blackburn was taken to Loris Community Hospital in South Carolina. Late Sunday night, a spokeswoman at the hospital said that Blackburn was in good condition.
The shooting occurred on Soles’ property when two men went to the senator’s house and tried to kick in his front door, Batten said. The incident happened about a quarter mile from Canal Street and Stake Road.
The other man involved in the incident is B.J. Wright, Batten said. Multiple media outlets have reported that Wright was a legal client of Soles – an attorney – and that Soles gave him money while Wright was in prison.
The State Bureau of Investigation is probing the shooting, Batten said, because the agency is already looking into accusations against the senator.
Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? Soles is apparently the longest-serving state senator in North Carolina history, and has amassed both power and enemies. Cynics will tell you that anybody who’s been in office that long has had to remodel their office several times, expanding closet space for all the skeletons. Apparently, as Soles knew at least one of the two attackers, there’s more to this story than meets the eye.
Let me be fair, here. If you are anti-gun, or believe in your heart-of-hearts that gun ownership by private citizens is a bad idea, then I believe you have a right to that sentiment. This is America. We are Americans, and it’s our God-given right to disagree. (I happen to thing you are very, very wrong, but that’s my opinion, and I have as much of a right to mine, as you do to yours.) However, (and this is a BIG however) if you’re gonna talk the talk, bubeleh, walk the walk, whydoncha? If you’re gonna Just Say No to Guns for private citizens, then I see no logical way to make exceptions for state senators, famous people, sport stars, and the like. If you’re not consistent in your beliefs, then you are the worst kind of hypocrite. Just like Senator Soles. You wanna espouse disarming the populace? Fine. Start with yourself. We’ll notify the Darwin Award people, and let nature take it’s course.
The SWAT Team Would Like to See Your Alcohol Permit
How police use regulatory inspections to conduct warrantless searches
Radley Balko | December 13, 2010
In August a team of heavily armed Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies raided several black- and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Orlando area. There were more raids in September and October. According to the Orlando Sentinel, barbers and customers were held at gunpoint, some in handcuffs, while police turned the shops upside down. A total of nine shops were raided, and 37 people were arrested.
By all appearances, these raids were drug sweeps. Shop owners told the Sentinel police asked where they were hiding illegal drugs and weapons. But in the end, 34 of the 37 arrests were for "barbering without a licence," a misdemeanor for which only three people have ever served jail time in Florida. Two arrests were for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Just one person was arrested on felony drug and weapon charges.
The most disturbing aspect of the raids, however, was that police didn't bother to obtain search warrants. They didn't have to. The raids were conducted in conjunction with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Despite the guns and handcuffs, under Florida law these were licensure inspections, not criminal searches. So no warrant was necessary. Such "administrative searches" are a disturbingly common end run around the Fourth Amendment.
This sort of raid is usually conducted in bars and nightclubs under the guise of an alcohol inspection. New Haven recently sent a SWAT team to a local bar to investigate reports of underage drinking. Last week the Atlanta City Council agreed to pay a $1 million settlement to the customers and employees of a gay nightclub after a heavy-handed police raid in which 62 people were lined up on the floor at gunpoint, searched for drugs, and checked for outstanding warrants (and, incredibly, unpaid parking tickets). The September 2009 raid was conducted after undercover vice cops claimed to have witnessed patrons and employees openly having sex at the club. But the police never obtained a search warrant. Instead the raid was conducted as part of an alcohol inspection. There were no drug arrests, but eight employees were arrested for permit violations.
Federal appeals courts have upheld administrative searches even when they look for evidence of criminal activity, as long as the government can plausibly claim that the primary purpose of the search was regulatory. In the case of the Orlando raids, simply noting the arrests of 34 unlicensed barbers would be enough to meet this test.
But the Fourth Amendment requires that searches be "reasonable." If using a SWAT team to make sure a bar isn't serving 19-year-olds is considered reasonable, it's hard to imagine what wouldn't be. In 2009 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit allowed a civil rights suit to go forward against the Rapides Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff's Department after a warrantless SWAT raid on a nightclub thinly veiled as an administrative search. In 1995 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit made an even broader ruling, finding that having probable cause and a warrant for the arrest of one person in a club did not justify a SWAT raid and subsequent search of the entire club and everyone inside.
Other legal challenges to administrative searches have been less successful. Consider the bizarre case of David Ruttenberg, owner of the Rack 'n' Roll pool hall in Manassas Park, Virginia. In June 2004, local police conducted a massive raid on the pool hall that included more than 50 police officers, some of whom were wearing face masks and toting automatic weapons. (Watch video of the raid here.) It turned out police were investigating Ruttenberg for several alleged drug crimes, although so far he has not been charged with any. They had tried unsuccessfully to get a warrant to search the pool hall, where Ruttenberg also lived. So instead they brought along several representatives of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and claimed to be conducting an alcohol inspection. The raid yielded three drug-related arrests, but two of the arrestees turned out to be police informants, and the third was an undercover police officer. Ruttenberg was cited for three alcohol violations, based on two bottles of beer a distributor had left that weren't clearly marked as samples and vodka found in his private office.
In June 2006, Ruttenberg filed a civil rights suit alleging that the town and the police department were unfairly targeting him and had repeatedly tried to frame him on drug charges. (I've followed and reported on Ruttenberg's case for several years.) In December 2006, a federal judge dismissed all of Ruttenberg's claims. In 2008 a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld the ruling on every claim but one—that using 50 or so police officers, SWAT gear, and automatic weapons to conduct an alcohol inspection is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The case went back to the district court judge, who again dismissed that claim. In April of this year, a 4th Circuit panel affirmed that decision. Which means Ruttenberg's out of luck, and at least in the 4th Circuit, the Fourth Amendment doesn't prevent the government from sending a SWAT team to make sure your beer is labeled correctly.
Most Americans probably believe they can't be searched, handcuffed, or have a police gun pointed at them without probable cause. But courts have consistently found that the Fourth Amendment affords less protection for businesses, their employees, and their patrons than it does for private homes. Get caught in the wrong bar, barbershop, or pool hall at the wrong time, and you could find yourself subjected to an "inspection" that looks and feels suspiciously like a search.
Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.
Fla. cop fired over link to home invasion
Officer allegedly used a law enforcement database to retrieve the address of a man feuding with her cousin
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