Democrats love to tell us that they aren’t interested in taking our guns from us. But in court, the Biden Administration is trying to literally engage in gun-grabbing. The request is related to one specific case — Caniglia v. Strom — but it “could have sweeping consequences for policing, due process, and mental health,” according to Forbes.
Forbes reports that The Biden administration and Attorneys General from nine states are asking the court to “uphold warrantless gun confiscation.” What was behind this request? The backstory began with an elderly couple arguing over a coffee mug:
In August 2015, 68-year-old Edward Caniglia joked to Kim, his wife of 22 years, that he didn’t use a certain coffee mug after his brother-in-law had used it because he “might catch a case of dishonesty.” That quip quickly spiraled into an hour-long argument. Growing exhausted from the bickering, Edward stormed into his bedroom, grabbed an unloaded handgun, and put it on the kitchen table in front of his wife. With a flair for the dramatic, he then asked: “Why don’t you just shoot me and get me out of my misery?”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tactic backfired and the two continued to argue. Eventually, Edward took a drive to cool off. But when he returned, their argument flared up once again. This time, Kim decided to leave the house and spend the night at a motel. The next day, Kim phoned home. No answer.
When there was no response, Kim called police to have a wellness check performed on her husband. Police found Edward to be “calm for the most part.” Despite this, they decided that he was a threat to himself for one reason or another and insisted that he go for a psychiatric evaluation. Edward initially refused, but agreed after police promised they would not confiscate his guns. But that’s exactly what they did — and they lied to his wife, telling her Edward had consented to confiscation:
Compounding the dishonesty, police then told Kim that Edward had consented to the confiscation. Believing the seizures were approved by her husband, Kim led the officers to the two handguns the couple owned, which were promptly seized. Even though Edward was immediately discharged from the hospital, police only returned the firearms after he filed a civil rights lawsuit against them.
Critically, when police seized the guns, they didn’t claim it was an emergency or to prevent imminent danger. Instead, the officers argued their actions were a form of “community caretaking,” a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.
Typically, the “community caretaking” exception is used to cases involving impounded cars and highway safety. But lately, “everything from loud music to leaky pipes have been used to justify warrantless invasion of the home,” according to a joint amicus brief from the ACLU, Cato Institute, and American Conservative Union.
“When every interaction with police or request for help can become an invitation for police to invade the home, the willingness of individuals to seek assistance when it is most needed will suffer,” the brief says.
Nevertheless, the Biden administration argues that warrants should not be “presumptively required when a government official’s action is objectively grounded in a non-investigatory public interest, such as health or safety.”
“The ultimate question in this case is therefore not whether the respondent officers’ actions fit within some narrow warrant exception,” the Biden Administration argues, “but instead whether those actions were reasonable.”
This is definitely a case to watch.