Saturday, March 15, 2008

"May I Search Your Home?- It is Completely Voluntary"

It is early evening. You have just pulled perfectly cooked "Nathan's Hot-Dogs" off the grill. There is the usual pre-dinner rush in the kitchen as the meal is being brought to the table. The kids are washing their hands. You usually keep the TV off during dinner, but tonight is an exception. There is a baseball game on and your team is doing well this season. You decide to grab a beer from the fridge. You smell the apple pie your wife has put into the oven for desert. Your dog is sitting patiently beside the table, knowing that sooner or later one of the kids will drop something from their plate-or hoping that you might give in and let him have that last bite of your second hot-dog.

You look around you. Baseball, hot-dogs, your family with you, your dog at your side, the smell of apple-pie in the kitchen- there is nothing that can ruin this All-American, Norman Rockwell moment- Except the three rapid knocks at the door that jolt you back to reality.

You get an uncomfortable feeling in your gut. The knocking was loud- with a purpose, not the way salesmen knock, or the way the next-door neighbor kid knocks, when she comes over to tell you about the latest reason she is selling candy for school or that her mother would like to borrow an egg. No, this knock was confident and definitely had a purpose.

You reach the door. Outside you hear a voice, but it is mixed with static. You realize the voice is coming from a two-way radio. You peer out the peep hole and see two men dressed in blue and the badge of your local police department. The uncomfortable feeling in your gut grows. What could be wrong, you wonder. Has their been an accident? Has someone died?

You open the door. "Can I help you officers," you ask with a hint of concern in your voice.

Both officers smile. One of them takes a slight step forward. "Good evening," he says. "We are here in your neighborhood as part of the "Safe Homes Initiative." We would like to know if we can come inside and perform a quick walk through of your house as part of "Safe Homes." We would just like to help you out by verifying that you don't have any guns that are not locked up in the house and help you check to make sure that your kids haven't accidently picked up a handgun in the park and hidden it from you. I am sure you are concerned about your kids safety and making sure you home is safe. You won't mind if we come in and take a quick look around? We are checking all the homes in the neighborhood. And this is completely voluntary."

You stand there staring at both officers, unsure of what to do next. Both officers are smiling, but you notice their hands are resting on their service pistols.

The second officer reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out his note pad. "Can I get your name please," he asks. "just for my paperwork of course."

So now what? Do you let the police in to do a "voluntary" search of your home? Do you refuse, and then wonder if you have made some "list?"

Think this can never happen here? It starts, in the District of Columbia, March 24, 2008. To me, this sounds like something from a 1930's Gestapo playbook.
District of Columbia police will be asking parents/guardians for permission to conduct "voluntary" searches of their homes and children's bedrooms to search for firearms and drugs. Supposedly the search will only be for illegal firearms and drugs. However, I am sure that these searches will lead to prosecution for other matters, based on what they see in plain sight, even though some amnesty is supposed to be involved for the voluntary search. If a found gun has been used in a crime- prosecution will follow.

I have huge concerns about this program. Will people be too intimidated by the police to not allow them into the house? What happens if people refuse? Will the cops just say, "Thanks, have a great day" or will the next question be "Do you have something to hide?"

DC already has the strictest gun control laws in the nation, and NOW they need to go door to door to perform warrantless searches.

Boston and Philadelphia-- Guess what guys, You are next…. (Boston program starts this month, Philadelphia is still working on their program).


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