A truly terrifying ruling was just handed down from the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, a jurisdiction that covers Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
In the case of United States vs. Robinson, the full bench made an incredibly dangerous ruling that tosses out the 2nd Amendment, 4th Amendment, common sense, undisputed facts, and equal protection under the law.
Here is a quick rundown of the facts of the case:
Plaintiff, Shaquille Montel Robinson, was the subject of a Terry stop, an investigative tool used by police to stop and frisk suspicious individuals who the officers can reasonable articulate is armed and dangerous, and where there is a crime being committed, or about to be a crime committed.
Robinson was seen by a witness loading a pistol and putting it into his pocket, then entering the passenger side of a vehicle which then left the area; this took place in a high crime area in West Virginia. An officer was notified of the tip, and proceeded to pull over the vehicle as the driver and passenger were not wearing seatbelts.
The officer asked Robinson if he was armed, and Robinson gave him a “strange look,” caught in an “I gotcha” moment. The officer then proceeded to frisk Robinson and found the handgun. He arrested Robinson, as he is a felon who was in possession of a firearm.
The problem here? Robinson claimed that his rights against unreasonable search and seizure were violated by the officer. According to analysis by David French, attorney and writer for National Review,
He acknowledged that the officer had the right to stop the car and ask him to exit. He also acknowledged that the tip that he was armed was sufficiently reliable for the officer to act on it. Robinson contested the notion that the officer had reasonable suspicion to believe that he was armed and dangerous. After all, he argued, putting a firearm in your pocket is “innocent behavior” that was not by itself “sufficient to indicate that he posed a danger to others.”
As French later notes, the act of putting a firearm into your pocket is an innocent act (I would say it’s a foolish way to carry a pistol, but that’s beside the point). Just like driving a car takes a license, so does concealing a pistol in many states, albeit a decreasing number.
When a person gets into a car, it’s unreasonable to simply assume that said person does not have a driver’s license; it is up to the State to prove that the person does not, not for the person to prove that he/she does.
Similarly, when a person is carrying a firearm in a state where a permit is required, it cannot be assumed that the person is doing so illegally. Such an assumption undermines the legal doctrine of innocence until proven guilty. Now, is such an activity reason to approach said person with caution; sure, police have every right to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety, but that does not involve seeing every person with a firearm as being a threat.
However, the Fourth Circuit disagrees with that; =simply the existence of a firearm, even a legally owned firearm, constitutes a danger to police, facts be damned. Your record doesn’t matter. The existence of that firearm makes you the bad guy, be default, according to this ruling.
Nevermind the fact that gun owners, and specifically concealed carry permit holders are more law-abiding than the general population, and even more law-abiding than police officers, statistically speaking. Does that account for nothing?
At the 4th Circuit, apparently so.
But the most dangerous part of this ruling isn’t just the initial holding, but the legal doctrines espoused in the concurrence written by Judge James Wynn, where he presents a truly terrifying view of how gun owners are to be viewed by the State.
In sum, individuals who carry firearms–lawfully or unlawfully–pose a risk of danger to themselves, law enforcement officers, and the public at large. Accordingly, law enforcement officers may frisk lawfully stopped individuals whom the officers reasonably suspect are carrying a firearm because a detainee’s possession of a firearm poses a categorical “danger” to the officers.
Let that sink in: you are categorically dangerous under this line of reasoning if you own a firearm. Your record be damned. Millions of others’ record be damned. The facts be damned.
There’s a name for this kind of categorization: psychological projection, where an individual “projects” onto the world what they imagine in their own minds. The truth has no place in such a mindset.
So you are an enemy of the State, and subsequently you also lose other rights as well.
I see no basis–nor does the majority opinion provide any– for limiting our conclusion that individuals who choose to carry firearms are categorically dangerous to the Terry frisk inquiry. Accordingly, the majority decision today necessarily leads to the conclusion that individuals who elect to carry firearms forego other constitutional rights, like the Fourth Amendment right to have law enforcement officers “knock-and-announce” before forcibly entering homes.
And what is the definition of such treatment? As French points out, this is second-class citizenship, and regardless of any empirical evidence of danger, you are to be treated as such.
Equal protection under the law? Gone!
Right against unreasonable search and seizure? Gone!
Right to due process of law? Gone!
What a terrifying prospect. And this ruling has largely gone unnoticed. In five states, a federal court has authorized en masse violation of your fundamental Constitutional rights for simply exercising one of your fundamental Constitutional rights.
French concluded by writing,
Beware, lawful gun owners, the court has branded you with a scarlet “G.” You are a danger to yourself, your neighbors, and the state. You exercised your rights, and now the court has deprived you of your liberties.
The standard of Terry vs. Ohio has been thrown out, and a new standard enacted; more legislating from the bench. Presence of a firearm, illegal or not, is enough to determine you as a threat, and because of that you lose your rights. Evidence be damned, if you choose to exercise a right that is fundamental and guaranteed, you lose, and must be viewed as a threat in any circumstance.
Is this not the doctrine that constitutes authoritarian rule?