WA gun bill includes police searches without warrants

posted at 8:41 am on February 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Oh, let’s not call them searchesLet’s call them inspections, just a small price for gun owners to pay for exercising a right explicitly protected in the Constitution, and without any probable cause apparent for a crime being committed.  After all, we know that will convince criminals not to keep weapons, right?  Right?

Even gun-control activists in Washington are embarrassed by this, er, mistake (via Instapundit):

Forget police drones flying over your house. How about police coming inside, once a year, to have a look around?

As Orwellian as that sounds, it isn’t hypothetical. The notion of police home inspections was introduced in a bill last week in Olympia.

That it’s part of one of the major gun-control efforts pains me. It seemed in recent weeks lawmakers might be headed toward some common-sense regulation of gun sales. But then last week they went too far. By mistake, they claim. But still too far.

“They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away. But then you see this, and you have to wonder.”

Most of us aren’t wondering.  As for this being a “mistake,” the description from Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times makes it sound like a pretty deliberate error:

But then, with respect to the thousands of weapons like that already owned by Washington residents, the bill says this:

“In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”

In other words, come into homes without a warrant to poke around. Failure to comply could get you up to a year in jail.

A mistake is a typo or forgetting to insert or remove a key word in legislation; that happens from time to time, with embarrassing but not usually substantial consequences.  This was obviously a deliberate part of the bill, intended to intimidate gun owners into giving up the exercise of their rights, again with the meaningless rubric of “assault weapons.”

By the way, yet another study shows that an “assault weapons” ban will have no impact on crime.  Did it come from the NRA?  No, it came from the Department of Justice, which has held it close to the vest for the last six weeks:

Justice Department researchers have concluded that an assault weapons ban is “unlikely to have an effect on gun violence,” but President Obama has not accepted their report as his administration’s official position.

“Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence,” the DOJ’s National Institute for Justice explains in a January 4 report obtained by the National Rifle Association. “If coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective.” That idea is also undermined by the acknowledgement that “a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.”

The research in that report didn’t stop Obama denouncing “weapons of war” during his State of the Union speech on February 12.

The number of homicide victims from all rifle types is about 3% of all homicide victims on an annual basis.  They are far outstripped by victims from cutting weapons or even “personal weapons” — hands and feet.   Anyone who paid attention to the impact (and lack thereof) of the 1994 ban already knows this.  However, this current hysteria makes for a wonderful opportunity to frighten law-abiding citizens with threats of random police searches while doing nothing about the criminals, who will benefit from the redirection of law-enforcement resources.


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