A Federal Court of Appeals Attacks the Second Amendment Again

Do you exercise your Constitutional right to own a gun and protect your home?

If so, you need to read this.

The Eleventh Circuit Court recently ruled those who exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms in their home “means diminishing your Fourth Amendment rights” and “gun-owning citizens, in the words of a concurring judge, can even ‘face greater restriction on their concurrent exercise of other constitutional rights.'”

That’s right.

Imagine you are home late at night. There’s a loud knock on the door. You check to see who is at the door but also bring your gun–out of precaution and to protect your home.

That situation right there could have you dead in seconds. By the cops… And there is absolutely nothing wrong with it–at least, according to this Circuit Court.

This is what happened to Andrew Scott. He was killed by Richard Sylvester, a police officer who did not identify himself as such, was not wearing a uniform, and did not have emergency lights flashing on his cruiser.

Scott’s “right to defend himself” turned into “a right to die in two seconds flat, without firing a shot or even clambering a round.”

According to the National Review:

That’s the effective holding of a panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a holding that the entire Circuit declined to review en banc just last week…

…But the Eleventh Circuit wasn’t deciding a criminal case and threw out a mere civil lawsuit (a claim brought by Scott’s estate for monetary damages for violations of Scott’s civil rights). The court held that the officer was entitled to “qualified immunity” when he fired the fatal shots. Why? Because when he showed up at the wrong door, misunderstood a neighbor’s directions, refused to identify himself as a cop, and then gunned down a man who was entirely lawfully carrying a gun in an entirely lawful circumstance, the officer did not, the court claimed, violate any of Scott’s “clearly established” legal rights.

The qualified-immunity doctrine holds that public employees can’t be held individually liable for violating citizens’ constitutional rights unless those rights have been “clearly established.”…

…But how’s this for a clearly established right? “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Much of the case turned on analysis of the Fourth Amendment, which lays out the right of the people to be secure against “unreasonable search and seizure.” The panel specifically considered whether the police officer at Scott’s door had engaged in a permissible “knock and talk” procedure. The dissent noted: “There was no talk here. This was a knock and shoot.” But in reality, the case represents an unacceptable collateral attack on the Second Amendment…

Deputy Sylvester testified that Scott “flung open” the door and pointed his gun directly at his face. The plaintiffs presented evidence that when Scott opened the door and saw a man outside crouching with a gun, he immediately retreated, and his gun was at all times pointed down at his side. This next part is critical for understanding the danger of the court’s reasoning: Through the quirks of civil procedure, the court was required to evaluate the case as if the plaintiffs’ account was true. Pay close attention, citizens of the Eleventh Circuit (that’s Alabama, Georgia, and Florida). If you exercise your constitutional right to keep and bear arms in your own home, agents of the state who show up at the wrong house and don’t announce themselves can kill you with legal impunity, even if you are retreating — and even if you point your gun at the ground.

Now that is terrifying.

As National Review writer David French points out, you should be able to open your door under your terms. But the Eleventh Circuit disagrees.



Regan Pifer

About Regan Pifer

Reagan Pifer has taught and researched American history and politics in higher education for ten years. These are her rants.