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First They Will Take Your Dogs, Then They Will Take Your Guns

A couple of days ago our colleague constitutional lawyer Mark Fitzgibbons told us about the case of Nikita Smith and Kevin Thomas vs City of Detroit et al in which U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh dismissed a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Detroit resident Nikita Smith after Detroit police officers shot her three dogs to death.

The details of how and why the Detroit police came to raid Smith’s home and shoot her dogs may leave some CHQ readers unsympathetic to Smith -- Detroit police obtained a search warrant for Smith's residence after Guns and dogsreceiving a tip that marijuana was being sold out of it. Police confiscated 25 grams of marijuana as a result of the raid, and Smith was charged with a misdemeanor.

However, the case against her was later dismissed when officers failed to appear at her court hearing.

But it is not the raid and the perhaps unnecessary killing of Smith’s dogs that is scary about this case – it is Judge Steeh’s characterization of what constitutes “title” i.e., private ownership and possession of the dogs.

C.J. Ciaramella writes about this ruling at Reason Magazine, in “Federal Judge Rules Unlicensed Dogs Aren't Protected By Fourth Amendment.”  In deciding an unlicensed dog is “contraband” not protected by the Fourth Amendment, the ruling confuses government “licenses” with “title,” i.e., private ownership and possession. The ruling will eventually be cited in cases involving property other than dogs and other unlicensed activity in our overly license-happy statist society said Ciaramella.

In the ruling Judge Steeh held that, “The requirements of the Michigan Dog Law and the Detroit City Code, including that all dogs be current with their rabies vaccines, exist to safeguard the public from dangerous animals… When a person owns a dog that is unlicensed, in the eyes of the law it is no different than owning any other type of illegal property or contraband. Without any legitimate possessory interest in the dogs, there can be no violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

Put simply, Judge Steeh’s ruling means that only a government license can bestow a legal interest in property.

As Fitzgibbons observed in an article for the American Thinker, “…there are systems for adjudicating fines for unlicensed pets. But for the state to assert lesser constitutional protections for owned but unlicensed property as ‘contraband’ is dangerous from a Fourth Amendment perspective. The Writs of Assistance targeting contraband helped foment the American Revolution. The Fourth Amendment was written after our colonial experience with such violations of individual liberty and property rights even when contraband was the express target of the searches.”

In citing the colonial experience Fitzgibbons has hit upon a key reason for Americans to fear the extension of Judge Steeh’s anti-constitutional ruling to other property, because the “contraband” the British were after when they marched off from Boston to Concord was not dogs or cars with expired license plates – it was the guns of our colonial ancestors – or more precisely the gunpowder essential to their use.

Fast forward to 2009 and the landmark Heller decision striking down the District of Columbia's handgun ban. Hidden in that otherwise excellent opinion was the notion that mandatory gun registration could be constitutional.

"I think under the Heller decision, registration would be constitutional," Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, Wash., told "It doesn't make it good public policy."

"Registration is probably not unconstitutional," says Don Kilmer, an attorney in San Jose, Calif. who has sued two California counties for denying law-abiding citizens permits to carry concealed weapons. "There's a difference between registration as a permissible regulation and registration as good policy."

Now let’s couple the notion of “registration” or licensing of dogs as the only means by which a property interest is bestowed by the state upon the owner and the “registration” or licensing of guns as the only means by which a property right is bestowed by the state upon the owner of the gun and the problem becomes clear.

So far gun confiscation schemes, such as the California high-capacity magazine ban, have failed in large measure on Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment grounds, but that may all change if Judge Steeh’s ruling that a government license is the only means by which title in lawfully acquired property is vested in the individual becomes precedent.

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trigger happy freaks

maybe these storm trooping nazi jack booted bastard will get there ( officer Miosotis Familia, 48,Capt. Robert David Melton, 46)moment sooner than later!trigger happy MF'ERS!

Dog Shootings

A lot of us consider our dogs as family members! I am a retired LEO. If the local cops, need to kill any dog that they consider a threat, for barking at them, Those Cops need to find other employment! I am not referring to Mean, Attacking dogs, but merely normal curious barking pups!