As you may have noticed, the Supreme Court has been rather “gunshy” (sad pun intended) about taking up any new Second Amendment cases this year. On June 15th, the court refused to hear nearly a dozen cases involving gun rights and gun control laws. But there’s one more item that could wind up on their plate and it involves a California woman named Lori Rodriguez. Back in 2013, police raided her home in San Jose in response to a potential domestic violence report about her husband and forced her to open her family’s gun safe. They confiscated all of the firearms found within. Now, seven years later, they are still refusing to return them to her, so Rodriguez has turned to the courts for relief. (Free Beacon)
In 2013, Lori Rodriguez called San Jose police to her home because her husband was having a mental health crisis and making violent threats. Seven years later, she is petitioning the Supreme Court to force the city to return her guns.
“It’s not right. I shouldn’t have to do this to get back what’s mine,” Rodriguez told the Washington Free Beacon. “They violated several of my constitutional rights.”
Rodriguez claims police ordered her to open the couple’s gun safe so they could seize all of the weapons in the home after her husband was detained for making threats that the city says included “shooting up schools.” Cops seized not only her husband’s weapons but also the guns that were personally registered to Rodriguez. The city has repeatedly rebuffed her requests to return her property.
At least at the time of the initial investigation, it’s understandable that the police would take an interest in any firearms in the house. Rodriguez’s husband had reportedly been acting in an unstable fashion, including allegedly making threats to “shoot up a school.” Had the police not looked into his access to weapons at that point they would have been criminally negligent. But the story took a turn when Mrs. Rodriguez was instructed to open up their gun safe and allow the cops to collect all of their weapons and depart.
According to both the husband and wife, only Lori Rodriguez knew the combination to the gun safe. That remains the situation to this day. Further, though both of them owned firearms in 2013, Mrs. Rodriguez has taken the additional steps of transferring all of the firearms so they are under her name only. Her husband no longer owns or has legal access to any of them. The two apparently got past their previous problems and are still living together.
The question the courts need to answer is whether the presence of Mr. Rodriguez in the home is sufficient cause to deprive his wife of her firearms. The case can certainly be made that her husband’s mental stability back in 2013 was questionable, but at no time has Lori Rodriguez’s mental health been disputed. If she’s keeping her firearms in an approved gun safe and her husband doesn’t know the combination, what purpose is being served by continuing to keep them from her?
The city’s attorney, Richard Doyle, hasn’t done much for San Jose’s case thus far. In a brief submitted to the Supreme Court this week, he claimed that the plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights weren’t being denied because, “The forfeiture does nothing whatever to impair the previous owner’s right to buy, possess, or use firearms, and notwithstanding that the owner may recover the full market value of the guns through their transfer and sale.”
Hold the phone a minute here. So you’re saying that the city would be fine with Lori Rodriguez purchasing new firearms and storing them in her safe? Then doesn’t that mean that you recognize her right and ability to safely possess firearms? And if that’s the case, then why aren’t her other firearms being returned? It’s a circular argument that shouldn’t hold water.
If the court agrees to take the case, I would hope that Mrs. Rodriguez prevails. The bigger concern is whether or not she will ever have her day in court. The Supremes have been ducking Second Amendment cases like crazy lately. It will be a sad, but not unexpected disappointment if they dodge this one too.