SCOTUS Rules Cops Can’t Just Show Up With A Dog And No Warrant

A majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court this week frustrated the State of Florida (as well as the Federal government and 26 other States) by ruling that police who bring a sniff dog onto a homeowner’s property and turn up evidence related to the dog’s signaling are conducting a “search” as defined by the 4th Amendment.

That means cops can’t suspect you of growing marijuana in a house, turn up casually at your front door with a dog — you know, just to ask a few questions — and thereafter develop probable cause to search the house, as the dog sniffs around at the front door and begins indicating there’s something illegal inside.

That’s exactly what happened to one homeowner in the Miami area in 2006, when police acting on an unverified tip visited the home of Joelis Jardines, with Drug Enforcement Administration agents waiting in the wings. They didn’t have a warrant, and the tip alone wasn’t sufficient probable cause to obtain a search warrant. The cops let the dog sniff at the front door. The dog signaled that narcotics were somewhere nearby. And the cops then applied for and received a search warrant.

The police had initiated no contact with Jardines during this episode. That contact came only when they returned to the house with the search warrant, found the marijuana being grown inside and arrested Jardines.

The Florida Supreme Court had already sided with Jardines after he appealed a lower court’s ruling that dog searches aren’t covered under the 4th Amendment. Realizing the broad implications the decision could have to limit search powers, the State then appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And lost.

It’s worth culling the high points from Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion:

Since the officers’ investigation took place in a constitutionally protected area, we turn to the question of whether it was accomplished through an unlicensed physical intrusion…

…As it is undisputed that the detectives had all four of their feet firmly planted on the constitutionally protected extension of Jardines’ home, the only question is whether he had given his leave (even implicitly) for them to do so. He had not.

…We have accordingly recognized that “the knocker on the front door is treated as an invitation or license to attempt an entry, justifying ingress to the home by solicitors, hawkers and peddlers of all kinds.” This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave.

Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does not require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters. Thus, a police officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, precisely because that is “no more than any private citizen might do.”

But introducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence is something else. There is no customary invitation to do that. An invitation to engage in canine forensic investigation assuredly does not inhere in the very act of hanging a knocker. To find a visitor knocking on the door is routine (even if sometimes unwelcome); to spot that same visitor exploring the front path with a metal detector, or marching his bloodhound into the garden before saying hello and asking permission, would inspire most of us to — well, call the police.

Well said.

Two disappointments, though, about Tuesday’s decision:

  • It was close. The majority decision came after a 5-4 vote.
  • Tuesday’s victory for 4th-Amendment freedom stands in contrast to a misstep the court made in January, when it held that police dogs’ training and certification is itself sufficient grounds for courts to admit evidence based on the accuracy of their signaling. That decision came in spite of evidence that “real-world data demonstrate that even trained or certified dogs have a high rate of false alerts” and can take their signaling cues from handlers or from other stimuli in their environments.

Big Sis Eyeing The White House?

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was coy this week when asked about her Presidential ambitions in 2016.

The former Arizona Governor — beloved by Democrats for checking off all the right Pavlovian, heuristic boxes (she’s a woman; she appears “tough,” she had political success in a traditionally Republican western State) that often fuel low-information voting — has already received early buzz as a possible 2016 stand-in, should Hillary Clinton decide not to run.

The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard explains Big Sis may appeal to moderate Democrats who’ve historically wanted a “centrist” candidate:

Some Democrats are excited about her potential candidacy because of her ability to win often in Republican Arizona and because she has been progressive in pushing for immigration reform. She also presents a non-nonsense, law and order demeanor attractive to independents.

As governor, Time Magazine in 2005 called her one of the best in the nation. “Positioning herself as a no-nonsense, pro-business centrist, she has worked outside party lines since coming to office in January 2003 to re-energize a state that, under her predecessors, was marked by recession and scandal.”

Napolitano deflected questions about a Presidential bid Tuesday at a Washington, D.C., breakfast gathering:

“I think my plate is so full right now that I think that contemplation would be the kind of thing that would keep me up at night,” she said. “And I lose enough sleep as it is.”

So is she saying there’s a chance?

From outside the mainstream media, the idea of Big Sis as President may look risible. But one thing Napolitano might have going in her favor is her potential appeal — depending on how her Department enacts the current President’s efforts at border and immigration reform — to the growing demographic of Hispanic voters.

Those voters overwhelmingly swung left in the 2012 general election, and they will likely to continue favoring Democratic candidates until Republicans figure out a way either to capture a chunk of the Latino vote or relegate their bloc voting power by cultivating other voting blocs to offset the numbers.

One question: If and when she leaves her DHS post, will Big Sis take all her bullets with her, or will she leave them for her successor?

Poll Finds Fading Support For Federal Gun-Grabbing Legislation

Mass murders like the December 2012 shooting in Connecticut may provide perverse political fodder for gun-control advocates like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to push for more restrictive Federal gun-ownership laws; but in the eyes of the American public, it appears their gun-grabbing agenda is losing momentum.

Results of a CBS News poll released this week show 47 percent of those questioned now believe Congress should approve stricter laws on gun ownership — a number that’s gone down from 57 percent in a December survey conducted shortly after the Connecticut elementary school shooting.

By political party, 52 percent of those who identified themselves as Republicans said current gun laws should continue without changes, while 66 percent of Democrats believed gun control laws should be made stricter. Overall, 39 percent of those surveyed said current gun-ownership laws are sufficient and shouldn’t be changed.

Women surveyed were more likely to favor making guns harder to obtain, with 55 percent of women saying current laws aren’t strict enough — as opposed to 39 percent of men.

By region, Northerners still are buying into the gun-control talk in higher proportion to Americans throughout the rest of the country. Of those respondents who live in northern States, 58 percent support more regulation, while 44 percent of people in the South and Midwest agreed. In the western part of the United States, 47 percent of respondents favor tougher gun legislation.

Among those who’ve sought the national spotlight in the hope of eroding citizens’ 2nd Amendment powers, Bloomberg especially has demonstrated a readiness to seize upon the public outrage over mass shootings as an opportunity to sell American lawmakers on the idea that they need to strip all citizens of their Constitutionally protected freedoms pertaining to the owning of firearms.

With no supporting outside funding, Bloomberg created the Independence USA super PAC (political action committee) last October, vowing to use money he’s put into the fund to help support gun-grabbing legislative candidates nationwide, as well as to buy advertising that pushes his agenda in so-called “battleground” States. Bloomberg has contributed about $12 million to the PAC so far.

He has also funded anti-gun advertisements through his Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization. The televised ads are currently airing in 13 States viewed as “swing States” in next month’s Senate battle over a Democrat-sponsored bill aiming to expand background checks for gun buyers.

Alabama School Censors ‘Easter’ (The Word) And ‘Egg’ (The Shape) From Easter Egg Hunt Party

An elementary school in Madison, Ala., has managed to go forward with a planned Easter-themed school event while simultaneously banning any mention of the word “Easter.” In the interest of skirting any accusations that they still weren’t going far enough to preserve the appearance of religious diversity, school officials played it safe and went ahead and banned Easter egg-shaped objects from the festivities, too.

WHNT reported last week that Heritage Elementary in Madison — an affluent, mostly white suburb of Huntsville — had abandoned plans this year to hold an “academic egg hunt” for kindergartners and second-graders.

Principal Lydia Davenport said the school had, in previous years, received some communications from a parent who raised the issue of religious diversity, prompting the administration this year to forego any reference not only to Easter, Christianity or resurrections, but also to eggs, things shaped like eggs and bunnies identified by use of proper adjectives… as in “Easter bunnies.”

“Kids love the bunny, and we just make sure we don’t say ‘the Easter bunny’ so that we don’t infringe on the rights of others because people relate the Easter bunny to religion: a bunny is a bunny and a rabbit is a rabbit,” the principal explained.

Bloomberg Says ‘There Are Certain Times We Should Infringe On Your Freedom’ Ahead Of Anti-NRA Spending Spree

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to spend far more than the $12 million he’s already spent on ad campaigns castigating Congressmen who’ve paused at the idea that infringing on personal freedoms is unConstitutional.

Bloomberg, who contributes millions out of his personal fortune to organizations and political action committees (he actually started his own anti-gun PAC last year), is helping drum up funds for a multi-State ad blitz this week targeting Senators he feels might be persuaded into acting on gun control legislation during the current Congressional session.

He’s making a play for the hearts and minds of low-information voters, with an eye toward offsetting the spending power of the National Rifle Association in the run-up to Congressional elections in 2014:

If I can do that by spending some money, and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices, so the public can really understand the issues, then I think my money will be well spent and I think I have an obligation to do that.

Laudably quixotic as ever, Bloomberg’s idea of helping the public “really understand the issues” involves telling people they want something they don’t want — whether it be small sodas, hidden baby formula or gun bans — and then asking that they trust him to protect their safety instead of trusting the Constitution to protect their liberty.

That’s not a rant; Bloomberg said it himself Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet The Press” (full video here): “I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom.”

So many ominous things in that statement:

Telling Americans it’s appropriate that the state “infringe” on the freedoms of all citizens — not those few who’ve forfeited their freedoms through the due process of law.

Perversely appropriating that word, “infringe,” straight from his most despised passage in the Bill of Rights (that’s the 2nd Amendment, guaranteeing the right to bear arms) — in order to subvert the very freedoms it was created to secure.

“We” versus “you.”

Bloomberg’s comments came as he defended his failed attempt to ban large sodas in New York. At one point, he called the whole soda-ban fiasco just a big “public awareness” campaign — one he still says the city’s health department “has the legal ability to do.”

But his remarks, and his dogged commitment to his social engineering daydream, reveal Bloomberg’s Orwellian attitude toward individual freedoms on every front. In the coming months and years, he will spend many millions of dollars to sell a hypocritical message of gun control not only to New Yorkers, but to all Americans.

How hypocritical? Bloomberg himself brings along a retinue of on-the-clock New York Police Department guards for armed protection every time he flies to Bermuda. For personal protection.

Arguments For, Against Gay Marriage Laws Before SCOTUS Today

A pair of cases in which challenges to existing laws have made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court will inch closer to resolutions this week, with possible implications for sweeping changes to the way same-sex marriage is treated, both by the Federal government and by each State.

Beginning today, the high court will hear arguments on whether California’s Proposition 8 — a voter referendum that approved modifying the California State constitution so that only marriages between men and women would be recognized by the State — stands in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Since its passage in 2008, Proposition 8 has effectively banned same-sex marriage in California.

On Wednesday, the court will also hear arguments in a challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a Federal law signed by President Bill Clinton. The DOMA defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman in the eyes of the Federal government.

Both cases present the potential to effect enormous changes in the way the state treats marriage.

While homosexuals in California have largely gotten around the implications of Proposition 8 through that State’s recognizing of same-sex “domestic partnerships” instead of marriage, the outcome of the Proposition 8 case still asks the high court to determine a Constitutional issue that would apply to all 50 States. The Proposition 8 case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court because the plaintiffs asked for a ruling on whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits the States from legislating that marriage can mean only the joining of a man and a woman.

The DOMA also challenges the Constitutionality of how the government recognizes marriage — at the Federal level. The case that brought a challenge to the DOMA involves a New York widow who was “married” to the same female partner for four decades, yet was not allowed, under DOMA, to claim a Federal estate tax exemption when her deceased partner’s property passed to her.

The DOMA case doesn’t address whether gays have a Constitutional right to marry; it simply asks the Supreme Court to decide whether Congress and the President have the power to withhold Federal benefits to same-sex partners that heterosexual partners receive.

Dozens of Congressmen, the Administration of President Barack Obama and the U.S. Attorney General’s office have all weighed in, asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. So has Clinton, who said he’s had a change of heart since signing the original legislation into law.

An opinion in both cases is expected in June.

Actor In Gun Grab TV Ad Violates Basic Gun Safety

An actor who portrays a hunter in a new pair of ads pushing for Federal gun control doesn’t exactly know how to handle that shotgun he’s holding.

The man, who claims he’s a hunter, sits on the tailgate of a pickup and talks about how hunting is a big part of his family history. He talks about why background checks are a good thing and says no one’s trying to take your guns away. He’s got the requisite mountain-man facial hair, and he’s holding a shotgun.

But critics who’ve paid attention point out the guy is clueless when it comes to gun safety. His onscreen behavior seems to violate the National Rifle Association’s three fundamental rules of gun safety.

He’s holding the gun in a way that suggests the kids in the ad’s background could move into in its line of fire: a no-no. He’s got his finger on the trigger of the gun, even though he clearly isn’t ready to shoot at anything: a big no-no. And he’s holding his pump-action shotgun with the bolt closed, so there’s no way to know if he’s breaking another fundamental rule: keep a gun unloaded until you’re ready to use it.

The ad was paid for by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a project organization partially created and funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg has committed $12 million of his own money to help push the ads in 13 States where Senators on the fence about gun control might be swayed to vote on a slew of gun restrictions the Senate will take up after Easter.

 

Local Cops See Ammo Shortage While Congress Asks Big Sis: Bullets? Why You Need Those Stinkin’ Bullets?

Maybe something will give soon. More and more members of Congress are beginning to dial up the heat on the Department of Homeland Security to divulge its justification for taking steps to amass an alleged 20 years’ worth of ammunition.

Infowars reported Friday that Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and 14 other House members have written DHS to determine what all these bullets are really for, and whether the big buy is part of an effort to artificially choke supply and drive up prices.

The letter comes on the heels of bipartisan clamoring for DHS head Janet “Big Sis” Napolitano to speak plainly on the topic — something she so far hasn’t done.

The Congressmen should be helped along by emerging reports that city and county cops across the United States are having to ration bullets, be put on waiting lists or even barter with other agencies in order to avoid running out of ammunition for both training and patrol use.

CNS News compiles several such reports in the past two months, from Texas to Montana to Tennessee to Wisconsin. One Ohio city is applying for an ammo grant.

As you likely know, DHS isn’t military; it’s an agency ostensibly preoccupied with domestic safety. A February analysis determined the United States would have had to extend the most heated portion of its Iraq war for an additional 24 years to expend the amount of ammo our supposed Homeland protectors have snatched up.

J-Schools Hold Up Mirror To Current Domestic Drone Policy, Teach Use Of Tiny Devices To Gather News

If the Feds can use drones to watch what’s going on, so can everybody else.

That’s essentially the thinking that lies behind a recent surge in new coursework at a handful of journalism schools, where future reporters are learning how to use observation drones to get close to events in a way an individual often can’t.

Under the present iteration of the FAA Reauthorization Act, it’s illegal for commercial entities (well, at least those without a defense contract) to fly drones until 2015. But public universities such as the University of Nebraska and the University of Missouri don’t fall under that restriction. These and other universities engage drone technology across several of their academic departments — mostly those dealing in applied sciences, but journalism is starting to get in on the action.

At the University of Missouri’s prestigious journalism school, students and faculty describe potential news-gathering uses for drone technology in pretty benign terms. One of the Missouri professors keeps his comments on how the media can use drone tech pretty far on this side of the invisible line that, doubtless, the current President and the Department of Justice are carefully waiting for someone to test on 1st Amendment grounds.

“We have a class here of journalism students who are learning to fly J-bots, for journalism robots, or drones,” Professor William Allen told ABC News. “So they learn to fly them, and also do what reporters do: brainstorm ideas, go out and do reporting, do drone based photography and video. We’re trying to see if this is going to be useful for journalism.”

He knows it will be useful for journalism, if lawmakers don’t snatch away the ability for media (or any inquisitive citizen) to begin employing drones in similar watchful fashion as law enforcement already is doing.

The question, though, is whether lawmakers will let it happen. Can Congress treat domestic drone policy with the fair play required to preserve Americans’ rights to keep pace with what it allows the executive branch to get away with?

Remarkably, Congressional talk (in these post-Rand-Paul-filibuster days) over where America’s domestic drone policy is heading has tended toward bipartisan concern over how the coming proliferation of drones threatens to infringe citizens’ Constitutional liberties. The Senate Judiciary Committee discussed domestic drones’ future Wednesday, with Republican and Democratic Senators (including Dianne Feinstein) alike voicing their skepticism that drones and individual liberty can easily coexist.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed resignedly accommodating of all forms of Orwellian surveillance when he asked a local radio audience on Friday: “It’s scary, but what’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? I mean, intellectually, I’d have trouble making the distinction.”

Access and mobility for starters, moron: That’s, intellectually, the distinction. Drones can follow you. Some of them can do far, far more than watch you.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to coax an updated list of entities presently authorized to maintain and use drones. An interactive map describing each location can be accessed here; it is current through October of last year. Under present laws, it’s of course filled with public entities of various kinds.

Here’s hoping it either disappears entirely (not likely) or becomes a bit more balanced, once Federal Aviation Administration guidelines have been revised.

Survey Shows Doctors Pessimistic About Obamacare

A peer survey of practicing doctors reveals a growing apprehension among the medical profession of the coming implementation of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

According to the survey, conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, more than 60 percent of doctors said they, or peers they know, plan to retire within the next one to three years.

Nearly as many said they believed they would begin cutting their own hours as they move toward “team-based” models of providing healthcare services.

Four out of 10 surveyed said their net income decreased last fiscal year, with 40 percent of those saying Obamacare is the reason. Nearly half of all surveyed said they expect their income to go down again this year as more of the Act’s measures come online.

Just more than half reported they feel that Obamacare will also harm the doctor-patient relationship, due to the opening of admitting privileges to more patients who qualify for treatment under the Act.

Rangel Claims ‘Millions Of Kids Dying’ From Assault Weapons

Representative Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) toed the company line in admirable fashion in an interview on MSNBC this week, spicing up his gun control rhetoric with a helping of hyperbole so big it might get him banned for excess in his home State’s largest city.

Asked his thoughts on Democratic Senators’ failure at preserving a proposed ban on assault weapons, Rangel offered this:

We’re talking about millions of kids dying – being shot down by assault weapons, were talking about handguns easier in the inner cities, to get these guns in the inner cities, than to get computers. This is not just a political issue, it’s a moral issue and so when we condemn the NRA we should not ignore the fact that a lot of people that have taken moral positions have been solid on this big one.

Don’t bother searching MSNBC’s site for a pullout quote on this one. It took other news outlets to point out Rangel’s exaggeration.

By the way, here’s some info on what’s being used to kill people in domestic murders, and in what quantity. And here’s a pretty well-done analysis of some of those numbers.

Even if you combine all types of murder methods (strangling, slashing, shooting, beating, poison, getting pushed off cliffs and all the rest), the number of weapons involved in all U.S. murders over the past is a couple of orders of magnitude beneath Rangel’s “millions” — try a high of 14,916 in 2007 (a figure that’s reliably gone down every year since).

T-S-A! T-S-A!, Student Suspended For Refusing To Step On Jesus, Big Sis Mum Before Congress On Billion-Bullet Stash, Israeli Leader Calls Obama’s Speech ‘Filth,’ Prez Tweets Bloody Beatle’s Glasses Pic To Woo Support For Gun Grab: Friday Morning News Roundup 3-22-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • A 61-year-old French national donned an Air France outfit and made it all the way to a comfortable seat in the cockpit before airline personnel — not the Transportation Security Administration — checked his credentials and gave him the boot. “He had an Air France shirt. He had an Air France bag. He had some identification that looked like he was a crew member from Air France,” a local cop said afterward.
  • A Mormon student taking a course in Intercultural Communications at Florida Atlantic University was suspended from class after refusing to participate in an “exercise” in which the professor asked everyone to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, fold it up and stomp on it. Universities and free thought, eh?
  • A couple of Congressmen say Janet Napolitano and other Department of Homeland Security officials “refuse to answer” why DHS has horded enough gun ammo to wage a 20-year war. “[C]ongress has a responsibility to ask Secretary Napolitano as to exactly why these purchases have occurred,” said one.
  • Members of the Knesset, Israel’s lawmaking body, are reflecting on President Barack Obama’s visit to the Mideast with musings like “I thought Obama had a greater understanding of the diplomatic process between us and the Palestinians.” One said the President’s speech had “a lot of filth in the middle.”
  • Obama’s Twitter account retweeted a picture from Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, showing some gore smeared across the dead Beatle’s glasses, taken the day he was murdered. The photo is accompanied by a reminder that more than 1 million people have been killed by guns since Lennon’s death in 1980.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

President Wants New Fund To Prop Up Green Energy Projects ‘Too Risky’ For Marketplace

An undeterred President Barack Obama, heavily criticized for his Administration’s support of spectacularly unsuccessful green energy start-ups, told an Illinois audience last week the government should expand its role in helping fund private green projects that wouldn’t survive in a free market.

Obama expanded on a topic he’d mentioned in his State of the Union address: the creation of an Energy Security Trust, funded from revenues the Federal government collects on oil and gas leases on Federally owned lands.

Its purpose? To destroy the oil-and-gas economy and replace it with other sources of energy, nearly all of which are still in development.

“So we’re making progress, but the only way to really break this cycle of spiking gas prices, the only way to break that cycle for good is to shift our cars entirely — our cars and trucks — off oil,” he said.

Crediting “a coalition that includes retired generals and admirals and leading CEOs” with the idea, Obama proposed the fund as an alternative way of subsidizing green projects — one that perhaps might anger the public less than the series of tax-funded venture capital green energy debacles during his Administration.

But why dwell on the past? Obama maintains that green energy is an idea whose time has come, if only it can develop a production and supply infrastructure to rival that of oil and gas. And since the marketplace often rejects green projects for one reason or another (or several), it’s the job of government to shoulder the economic risk.

[A]nd, by the way, the private sector on its own will not invest in this research because it’s too expensive. It’s too risky. They can’t afford it in terms of their bottom lines.

So we’ve got to support it. And we’ll all benefit from it, and our kids will benefit from it, and our grandkids will benefit from it. That’s who we are. That’s been the American story.

Wait, what? The executive branch forcing citizens to support venture capital (without giving us so much as a prospectus) is the American story?

Late last year, The Heritage Foundation compiled a “Green Graveyard,” a list of 19 companies that have declared — or were in the process of declaring — bankruptcy since receiving a combined $2.6 billion in government loans and “taxpayer-funded handouts” as part of Obama’s stimulus package. The list, it cautioned, will likely continue to grow.

Background Check Stats Reveal Gun Sales Higher Than Ever

An analysis of FBI-maintained data on the volume of background checks conducted when stores sell  firearms reveals that Americans are buying more guns than at any time since the agency began keeping track of the numbers.

Of particular interest is the dramatic spike in sales since late last year.

Through 2012, the number of background checks run on retail gun customers already was on pace to be higher than in previous years. But in the weeks following the Newtown, Conn., mass murder (as well as the liberal-backed crescendo in anti-gun policy), people bought a lot of guns.

The FBI began keeping track of background check numbers after implementing the point-of-sale National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 1998. In the 14 years since, nine of the 10 days of greatest background check volume occurred on, or in the time following, Dec. 14, the date of the Newtown killings.

In addition, the 10 heaviest-volume weeks have all happened since Newtown:

The highest week of all time was the one immediately following the tragedy; the week of the tragedy itself ranks fifth, even though the massacre occurred on Friday…The Sandy Hook massacre lit a fuse — and even at the site of the tragedy itself sales have spiked. Gun shops in Newtown are seeing sales at a rate at least double normal.

The analysis cautions that the numbers can only reveal so much information. For example, many gun buyers may be purchasing more than one weapon after passing their background checks. Also, there’s no way to be sure that all purchases requiring a background check, under Federal law, are ever verified.

And, because non-retail firearms transactions don’t require Federal background checks, there isn’t any way — to the relief of privacy fans everywhere — to measure the frequency with which privately exchanged guns are bought and sold. The liberal rhetoric over restricting private gun sales frequently tosses around the claim that 40 percent of guns bought and sold don’t undergo any kind of check, but that’s been debunked.

Congress Tells USPS It Must Keep Saturday Delivery

The mail will continue to run on Saturday, if President Barack Obama signs into law a continuing resolution Congress approved Thursday.

The U.S. Postal Service, a cost-recovery operation, announced in February it planned to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail this summer, a move intended to save $2 billion a year. USPS lost about $16 billion in 2012. The new schedule would still have allowed for package deliveries on Saturdays.

But Congress, in its passage of a new spending bill Thursday, included with no changes existing language that has mandated that the USPS deliver mail six days per week.

Postal officials maintain that the six-day requirement technically should allow the service to exercise more control over what category of mail it continues to deliver on Saturdays.

Indiana Sheriff’s Video Debunks Obama’s ‘Weapons Of War’ Myth

Ken Campbell, sheriff of Boone County, Ind., began hosting a series of informational videos last month repudiating gun grabbers’ claims about assault weapons.

His latest eight-minute piece debunks the gun grabbers’ fallacious claim that “weapons of war” don’t belong in civilian hands.

Opening with a Feb. 4 quote from President Barack Obama (that “weapons of war have no place on our streets”), the sheriff’s video dismantles the notion that only assault-style weapons qualify as “weapons of war.”

“Virtually all firearms were originally designed for military use,” notes the video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1bu7Y8iwXA&w=560&h=315]
 
Campbell compares the tactical, mean-looking AR-15 with the wood-bodied Ruger Mini-14, noting that, save the cosmetic differences, they’re essentially the same gun:

Let’s make a comparison between an AR-15 and a Mini-14. Let’s talk about what the similarities are. First and foremost, both are rifles. Secondly, they both take a detachable magazine. And, third, they fire the same caliber cartridge.

But under legislation pending now in Congress, one of these two rifles is apt to be a banned assault weapon.

(Hint: He’s talking about the AR-15.)

Campbell uses live-fire demonstrations of each weapon (using 20-round magazines) to illustrate that the AR-15’s pistol grip, threaded barrel and other features don’t do much to make its performance stand out above that of the Mini-14. In fact, the AR-15 lagged behind the Mini-14 in its rate of fire, squeezing off all 20 rounds in 14.79 seconds — versus 12.03 seconds for the Mini.

That kind of parity between tough-looking assault weapons and their outdoorsy-looking counterparts points up the absurdity underlying the President’s statement.

“I’ll leave it to you,” said the sheriff. “Does it pass the common sense test to ban one rifle over the other due to their cosmetic differences?”

Campbell goes on to test the efficacy of the shotgun — Vice President Joe Biden’s go-to weapon for when you absolutely, positively must blindly shoot a hole through your front door to stop a bad guy — at handling different self-defense scenarios.

The sheriff’s conclusion? Yeah, a shotgun’s great at helping you protect yourself — so long as your attacker doesn’t bring friends.

Campbell and other sheriffs opposed to knee-jerk Federal gun control measures are, more often than not, willing to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to citizens’ 2nd Amendment powers. The Boone County sheriff’s office doesn’t seem too interested in hoarding weapons and know-how from the public. Rather, Campbell maintains a calendar of firearm training courses for civilians on topics like edged weapons, defensive pistol use and how to use a handgun like a protective agent.

Spurned By SCOTUS, Feds Still Pushing For Warrantless GPS Car Stalking

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court smacked down an argument by the Administration of President Barack Obama claiming police weren’t “searching” criminal suspects when they secretly planted GPS tracking devices on their vehicles and monitored their comings and goings.

The court didn’t opine on whether that kind of secret GPS surveillance can be done only after police have obtained a search warrant or whether it could proceed simply from cops’ developing of probable cause.

But by telling the Department of Justice (DOJ) that law enforcement agencies must regard GPS stalking as an equivalent to other types of traditional police searches, it did ensure that future convictions based on secret GPS surveillance would have a heck of a time surviving legal challenges until laws concerning the technology had set clear boundaries for what the cops can and can’t do with GPS — and at what stage of an investigation they can do it.

With that legal mystery yet to be solved, parties are taking sides in arguments this week before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. There’s the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is appealing a portion of the SCOTUS ruling on behalf of the criminal suspects in the original case. Then there’s the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder. Can you guess which side they’re on?

The DOJ is staking out as much territory for warrantless law enforcement officer power as it can.

The Obama Administration is now arguing that using GPS data to watch the comings and goings of anyone police deem suspicious, 24 hours a day, for days on end, doesn’t infringe the 4th Amendment’s assurance that people have a right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The collateral assurance, that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized,” also shouldn’t apply to GPS searches, the DOJ argues.

What’s the basis?

U.S. attorneys are invoking the “automobile exception” to 4th Amendment limitations on warrantless searches and seizures. A precedent rule that’s stood since the rum-running Prohibition era, the automobile exception essentially has allowed cops, provoked by evidence thought to be present in the car at the time they develop probable cause, to go ahead and conduct a search, without a warrant, before a suspect might flee their jurisdiction with contraband in tow.

The ACLU says that’s B.S.; that Obama’s legal goons pretty much know they’re comparing apples with oranges; that secretly watching someone’s every coming and going is exactly the opposite of pulling someone over because he’s believed, either in that moment or through the issuance of a search warrant, to be transporting something illegal.

To apply the automobile exception to GPS searches, as the government urges, would be to radically expand the doctrine. The exception permits stops of moving vehicles upon probable cause and searches of a car for contraband and evidence of crime, not tracking of its driver and passengers. Put otherwise: The automobile exception is about preventing contraband and evidence of crime from absconding; GPS searches are about tracking individual persons as they go about their business.

Thus, the primary justification for the automobile exception, the exigency created when physical evidence of crime might disappear, is wholly absent in the GPS context…

…The overwhelming majority of GPS searches involve no such risk of destruction or removal of evidence. Rather, they involve surreptitious attachment in the dead of night and extended remote monitoring, the very antithesis of exigency. To be sure, in cases of actual exigency, for example, where police have both probable cause to believe that a vehicle contains contraband or evidence of criminal activity and good reason to believe that the vehicle might disappear before a warrant can be obtained, no warrant will be required for the initial attachment.

In the 2011 case (the one that smacked down the Obama Administration’s argument that GPS tracking isn’t a “search” as defined by the 4th Amendment), the justices observed that government GPS stalking could “suddenly produce what sounds like 1984” and that, “If you [the U.S.] win this case then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States.”

A U.S. attorney in that case told the court there was no reason why the Feds couldn’t secretly put GPS trackers on each Supreme Court justice’s car — or on an overcoat — and watch every public move they made.

Massachusetts School Mimics Welfare State By Leveling Playing Field For Kids

Schools aiming to prepare kids for life in entitlement-drunk America might want to start emulating Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts.

According to FOX News, the school’s principal canceled this year’s Honors Night, an annual even recognizing the achievements of its hardworking and high-performing students.

The reason? It could lead to hurt feelings. The last thing kids who haven’t excelled want to see is kids who did excel being honored for it.

“The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade point average,” explained principal David Fabrizio.

That sort of regressive compassion should serve the lowest common denominator among the schools’ student body well into adulthood, as long as America’s expanding safety net keeps snatching away what’s left of the incentive for its citizens to attain individual success.

Massachusetts School Mimics Welfare State By Leveling Playing Field For Kids

Schools aiming to prepare kids for life in entitlement-drunk America might want to start emulating Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts.

According to FOX News,the school’s principal canceled this year’s Honors Night, an annual even recognizing the achievements of its hardworking and high-performing students.

The reason? It could lead to hurt feelings. The last thing kids who haven’t excelled want to see is kids who did excel being honored for it.

“The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade point average,” explained principal David Fabrizio.

That sort of regressive compassion should serve the lowest common denominator among the schools’ student body well into adulthood, as long as America’s expanding safety net keeps snatching away what’s left of the incentive for its citizens to attain individual success.

UPDATE: Colorado Governor Signs Gun Control Measures Into Law

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has gone forward with his pledge to sign three pieces of controversial gun control legislation.

The Denver Post reported Hickenlooper signed the bills, approved by the State Legislature, Wednesday morning.

The move has outraged Republican legislators in Colorado, not only for its infringement on 2nd Amendment powers, but also because it may represent the start of an aggressive liberal agenda push on a number of hot-button issues yet to be tackled throughout the remainder of the State’s 2013 legislative session.

Major gun accessory manufacturer Magpul, which has operated in Colorado since 1999, is already getting out of Dodge, saying it won’t do businesses in a State that allows only its cops — not its residents — to own the products it manufactures.

Major Colorado Gun Company Making Good On Threat To Leave If Governor Approves Gun Grab

Colorado-based Magpul, a manufacturer of gun accessories like grips, mounts, sights and magazines, is evidently making good on its pledge to move its operations out of the State if a ban on magazine capacity and other 2nd Amendment infractions is approved by the Legislature and Governor.

The new laws — three separate bills limiting magazine size to 15 rounds, requiring all gun buyers to undergo universal background checks and then requiring them to pay for the privilege — all moved through the State Legislature last week; Governor John Hickenlooper has publicly said he’ll sign each of them into law today.

From the beginning of Colorado’s romance with gun control, Magpul has said it can’t continue to operate in a State that denies its residents the power to own and use its products, even as law enforcement officers remain exempt from the ban.

Likewise, the 14-year-old company has said it’s wrong for Colorado to welcome the tax revenues its estimated $85 million in annual revenues brings in, as well as hundreds of jobs, while hypocritically forcing it to do business outside the State in order to remain viable.

So on Monday, Magpul told its Facebook followers that it had seen enough:

We have said all along that based on the legal problems and uncertainties in the bill, as well as general principle, we will have no choice but to leave if the Governor signs this into law. We will start our transition out of the state almost immediately, and we will prioritize moving magazine manufacturing operations first. We expect the first PMAGs to be made outside CO within 30 days of the signing, with the rest to follow in phases. We will likely become a multi-state operation as a result of this move, and not all locations have been selected. We have made some initial contacts and evaluated a list of new potential locations for additional manufacturing and the new company headquarters, and we will begin talks with various state representatives in earnest if the Governor indeed signs this legislation. Although we are agile for a company of our size, it is still a significant footprint, and we will perform this move in a manner that is best for the company and our employees.

It is disappointing to us that money and a social agenda from outside the state have apparently penetrated the American West to control our legislature and Governor, but we feel confident that Colorado residents can still take the state back through recalls, ballot initiatives, and the 2014 election to undo these wrongs against responsible Citizens.

The company has had no shortage of out-of-State relocation invites from elected officials who respect the Constitutional powers of individual gun ownership. There’s Pennsylvania, Wyoming, South Carolina, Texas — and the list goes on.

The company’s stance has earned it a huge boost from individual gun owners as well. And at least two sheriffs in Colorado have said they won’t enforce the laws.