President Joe Biden’s administration is now pressing the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a warrantless gun confiscation this week as the nation’s highest court fields oral arguments in Caniglia v. Strom.
The case was ignited after Edward Caniglia, 68, got into a verbal altercation with his wife, Kim, back in 2015 which ultimately resulted in the police taking away Caniglia’s firearms. Following the dispute, Kim stayed in a hotel and later contacted members of law enforcement, expressing her concern that her husband might hurt himself.
Edward did not have a criminal record to speak of, or any history of self-harm, according to reports.
Forbes reported that the police were still convinced that Edward had the potential to hurt himself and insisted that he go to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. After refusing to do so, noting that his mental health was none of their business, Edward agreed only after the authorities lied in saying that they would not take away his firearms after he was gone.
Compounding the dishonesty, police then told Kim that Edward had consented to the confiscation. Believing the seizures were approved by her husband, Kim led the officers to the two handguns the couple owned, which were promptly seized. Even though Edward was immediately discharged from the hospital, police only returned the firearms after he filed a civil rights lawsuit against them.
The authorities never claimed that their behavior was in response to an emergency or an effort to prevent imminent danger and instead claimed that their actions were a form of “community caretaking.”
Forbes noted that the Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to take the side of the police, saying, “the ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is ‘reasonableness,'” and that official warrants should not be “presumptively required when a government official’s action is objectively grounded in a non-investigatory public interest, such as health or safety.”
Even leftist Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared to take issue with what happened, noting that “there was no immediate danger to the person threatening suicide and no immediate danger to the wife because the suicide person [sic] was removed to a hospital.”
Sotomayor said she did not have a problem with the man being forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and added that the issue was that police “going into the home without attempt to secure consent from the wife and seizing the gun and then keeping it indefinitely until a lawsuit is filed.”
“The wife tried to get it back. He tried to get it back. Weeks and weeks went by,” Sotomayor noted. “When we permit police to search and seize without some standard, we run the risk of situations like this one repeating themselves.”
Forbes separately reported:
This risk featured prominently in the amicus briefs filed by gun-rights advocates. “Expansion of the ‘community caretaking’ exception into the home will be used by police in jurisdictions with onerous or constitutionally-questionable firearm restrictions to turn every call to a house into a search for guns under the pretext of ‘helping’ those present,” warned a joint amicus brief filed by the Second Amendment Law Center, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, and Gun Owners of California. Simply put, “the Fourth Amendment has no ‘gun’ exception.”
Although Caniglia v. Strom is centered around the seizing of guns from someone suspected of being suicidal, its reach will be much, much more broad. If the Supreme Court decides to adopt the Biden administration’s argument that “the Fourth Amendment permits a warrantless seizure or home entry that is reasonably necessary to protect health or safety,” such public health and safety concerns could “become a pretext for law enforcement,” argued Shay Dvoretzky, who took the side of Caniglia in the High Court.
The Daily Wire reported:
The report noted that Justice Neil Gorsuch slammed the idea that government officials could secure so-called “administrative” warrants as an alternative, asking, “If the government can just get an administrative warrant to come in to test for illness, to check the temperature of the house, whether it’s too hot, too cold … what’s left of the Fourth Amendment?”