Even Democrats that sponsored this bill aren’t sure how it came to say that police will search the homes of residents on a yearly basis to ensure compliance with new gun laws, and they aren’t happy about it because it sets back their efforts to pass a gun control bill.
Basically, someone overshot the Constitution so far that the Democrat sponsors agree the provision is unconstitutional. You know it’s bad when Democrats admit something is unconstitutional:
SEATTLE TIMES – Forget police drones flying over your house. How about police coming inside, once a year, to have a look around?
As Orwellian as that sounds, it isn’t hypothetical. The notion of police home inspections was introduced in a bill last week in Olympia. …
“They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away. But then you see this, and you have to wonder.”
That’s no gun-rights absolutist talking, but Lance Palmer, a Seattle trial lawyer and self-described liberal who brought the troubling Senate Bill 5737 to my attention. It’s the long-awaited assault-weapons ban, introduced last week by three Seattle Democrats.
Responding to the Newtown school massacre, the bill would ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons that use detachable ammunition magazines. Clips that contain more than 10 rounds would be illegal.
But then, with respect to the thousands of weapons like that already owned by Washington residents, the bill says this:
“In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”
In other words, come into homes without a warrant to poke around. Failure to comply could get you up to a year in jail.
“I’m a liberal Democrat — I’ve voted for only one Republican in my life,” Palmer told me. “But now I understand why my right-wing opponents worry about having to fight a government takeover.”
He added: “It’s exactly this sort of thing that drives people into the arms of the NRA.”
I have been blasting the NRA for its paranoia in the gun-control debate. But Palmer is right — you can’t fully blame them, when cops going door-to-door shows up in legislation.
I spoke to two of the sponsors. One, Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, a lawyer who typically is hyper-attuned to civil-liberties issues, said he did not know the bill authorized police searches because he had not read it closely before signing on.
“I made a mistake,” Kline said. “I frankly should have vetted this more closely.”
That lawmakers sponsor bills they haven’t read is common. Still, it’s disappointing on one of this political magnitude. Not counting a long table, it’s only an eight-page bill.
The prime sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, also condemned the search provision in his own bill, after I asked him about it. He said Palmer is right that it’s probably unconstitutional.
“I have to admit that shouldn’t be in there,” Murray said.