Massachusetts police officers may soon be able to enter homes without a warrant to check on the storage of weapons if one local politician gets his way.
Swampscott Selectman Barry Greenfield said that he wants the town to have the authority to “enforce state law” in his town, which reportedly has 600 gun owners.
Constitutionality questions evolving around the search of a home without a warrant have already been raised. Swampscott Police Chief Ron Madigan has already been asked by Greenfield about entering the homes of gun owners to review storage practices.
Selectman Glenn Kessler wants input about the potential law from Swampscott’s legal counsel, law enforcement officials and residents before going forward, according to the Swampscott Patch website.
The Massachusetts gun law in question reads: “It is unlawful to store or keep any firearm in any place unless such weapon is secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user.”
Greenfield wonders: Why can’t town police check to make sure gun owners are obeying the law? Washington state considered a similar law, according to The Blaze.
The Swampscott warrantless search proposal should concern not just gun owners, but everyone who lives in the town. As Martin Niemoller’s famous parable goes, “First they came for the gun owners, but I didn’t own a gun …”
Barry Greenfield was one of many lawmakers pushing for new gun control initiatives in the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December.
Once details about the selectman’s law proposal became public, multiple call-in campaigns and grassroots movements sprang up. Greenfield’s office was reportedly deluged with phone calls by constituents who wanted to help clear up the elected official’s confusion on the protections afforded all Americans by both the Second Amendment and the Fourth Amendment.
In a statement after the understandable backlash to the warrantless searches began, Barry Greenfield claimed he was not trying to strip citizens of either their rights or their guns. He said:
The research I have read states that 65% or more of school shootings are caused by kids having access to their parents guns. It would be great to avoid another situation like that.
I know most gun owners are incredibly responsible with their weapons. I also am not trying to take away anyone’s rights or guns.
I’m simply asking the question of whether an existing law can be enforced. I’m not trying to add any laws. I asked our board of selectmen whether we could look into potential methods of enforcement. Can the police conduct a investigation with due notice, similar to a building permit inspection or a fire inspection when you want to sell your home? If not, fine.
Can registered gun owners be asked to submit a receipt of purchase of a safe or gun lock to prove they are complying with the existing law? I don’t know. My job is to ask questions and find answers. I’m not a constitutional attorney – I’m asking questions to find answers.
I’m a volunteer elected official. I’m trying to do what I can to prevent Sandy Hook happening in my town. And, for that, I get threats to my family and home and person. Not necessary. Whatever happened to civil discourse?
Numerous Swampscott residents stated that if law enforcement officers could enter a home to search for guns and review how they were being stored without a warrant, a precedent would be set for similar searches for countless reasons. A citizen identified as Steve L. was quoted as saying, “Given that drowning is four times more likely than a firearms accident, shouldn’t police be inspecting pools? But wait, poisoning is 10 times more likely than drowning – how about police check under our sinks.”
Before you dismiss the resident’s pool patrol and poison brigade too outlandish to ever happen in America, consider other nanny state laws which have been passed during the past two decades.
How do you feel about warrantless searches to make sure that guns are being stored safely?