That is the exact question one Texas man is asking the US Supreme Court to answer. The Rutherford Institute is pushing the high court to hear the no-knock warrant case spurred by the “SWAT-team style forceful entry” into John Quinn’s home.
In 2006 Texas law enforcement officers did obtain a warrant based on the suspicion that John Quinn’s son may possess drugs, but the warrant did not permit the officers to enter the home without either knocking or announcing their entry. The SWAT team chose a no-knock raid because they believed there was a gun in the home. There was one, but it was a legally owned gun.
During the raid on the residence, which took place after he had gone to bed, Quinn was shot by the officers as he reached for his gun, believing he was a victim of robbery.
Rutherford Institute attorneys are making the argument that making legal gun ownership and possession grounds for a no-knock raid both improperly limits and penalizes citizen’s Second Amendment rights.
“Whatever the issue might be, whether it’s mass surveillance, no-knock raids, or the right to freely express one’s views about the government, we’ve moved into a new age in which the rights of the citizenry are being treated as a secondary concern by the White House, Congress, the courts, and their vast holding of employees, including law enforcement officials,” said John W. Whitehead, the organization’s president. “The disconnect, of course, is that the Constitution establishes a far different scenario in which government officials, including the police, are accountable to ‘we the people.’ For it to be otherwise, for government concerns to trump individual freedoms, with government officials routinely sidestepping the Constitution and reinterpreting the law to their own purposes, makes a mockery of everything this nation is supposed to stand for — self-government, justice, and the rule of law.”
The officers did ultimately find cocaine in the home – less than a single gram.
Lower courts in Texas rejected John Quinn’s objection to the execution of a no-knock warrant, stating that the police officers knew there were guns inside the home and were therefore justified in the decision to make an unannounced forced entry. Of course, following that same logic, every registered gun owner in the United States has reduced Fourth Amendment rights.
Long-established Fourth Amendment standards dictate that police officers must knock and announce their presence at a home before opting for a forcible entry. Law enforcement officers may, however, go the no-knock route if there is a threat of violence or the potential that evidence could be destroyed is present.
Rutherford Institute attorneys say that “in the absence of any evidence of actual danger to police,” a legal possession of a firearm is not “sufficient to justify allowing police to override the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unannounced ‘no-knock’ home invasions when executing warrants,” according to a Rutherford summary of the case.
Do you think that legal gun ownership meets the exigent circumstances threshold necessary to utilize the no knock warrant clause?