The boys from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives (and really big fires) have grown increasingly busy in recent weeks. If they’re not running down legitimate gun owners while fishing for straw purchasers, then they’re trying to intimidate people into surrendering forced reset triggers. Now they’re hitting the pavement hectoring people about (formerly legal) solvent traps.
The fine folks over at Gun Owners of America have come across video from an ATF home visit documenting a couple of he Justice Department’s finest trying to get a gun owner to admit to owning or receiving a now-prohibited solvent trap. They also wanted him to surrender it.
On this day at this address, ATF-Troop ran into a gun owner who not only refused to admit to anything, but he told them to beat it and come back with a warrant. He also videotaped the encounter. Ouch.
ATF-Troop didn’t like his assertion of his rights.
Agent #2: “We’re not trying to be jerks here.”
Man: “You are though…”
Agent #2: “But we’re not.”
Man: “You’re the ATF.”
The man then told them that their job is to take away people’s guns. To which, Agent #2 says, “I don’t think you have any idea what our job is.”
Man: “I know everything about your job. All it is, is to erode the 2nd Amendment.”
Agent: “Please tell me…”
Man: “Shall not be infringed.”
Agent: “So, uh, violent, uh, criminals with guns that we take off the street – “
Man: “Oh, like at Waco?”
Ouch that one’s gonna leave a mark. But the man wasn’t done yet.
Man: “Or at Ruby Ridge?”
Agent: “Oh gosh.”
At this point, the agents dialed the snark up to 11, but eventually left empty-handed after making assorted veiled threats toward both the man and his dogs.
Here’s the video from Gun Owners of America.
For how to handle any law enforcement officer knocking at your door, more Americans would do well to introduce themselves to John H. Bryan (otherwise know as the Civil Rights Lawyer) and his article, Cops at your door? What they don’t want you to know . . .
…If police officers are on your private property, that changes things. Cops are trained on the requirement for reasonable suspicion – to develop some reasonable suspicion they can articulate, even if total B.S., and then that entitles them to forcibly demand identification from whomever they deem a suspect. That is generally how things work in public places – but not on private property, especially a home.
Let’s look at this scenario of police on your front porch and make sure we’re all on the same page about what the law is, and what the law is not, for both police and the occupants of private property.
According to the 1980 Supreme Court opinion in Payton v. New York, in order to legally arrest someone in a home, rather than in a public place, absent consent or exigent circumstances, police officers must have a warrant.
According to the 1984 Supreme Court opinion in Oliver v. United States, the heightened Fourth Amendment protections of the home extend beyond just the interior of the home itself into what’s called the “curtilage” of the home, which is the land immediately surrounding and associated with the home. Why? Because according to the Supreme Court, the curtilage is considered part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes. The Fourth Circuit, where the porch video occurred, just in 2015 issued an opinion holding that a warrantless search of curtilage is presumed to be unreasonable. (Covey v. Assessor of Ohio County).
In the 2013 Supreme Court opinion of Florida v. Jardines, the Court held that a search undoubtedly occurs when the government, without a warrant, obtains information by physically intruding within the curtilage of a house, which in that actual case involved a home’s front porch. The Court cautioned that a search occurs unless a homeowner has explicitly or implicitly sanctioned the government’s physical intrusion into the constitutionally protected area, i.e., the yard and/or porch of the home.
So if the ATF shows up at your door, your best bet is probably to shut up. Say less, in fact, than the man in the video above did. Refer any and all questions to your attorney and ask them to leave your property before you close the door.
Lastly, make sure your dog stays inside.