Letter to the Editor: Fourth Amendment, not gun rights, at issue in court case

Fourth Amendment, not gun rights, at issue in court case

The article in the Clarion on Monday Nov. 12 by James Brooks, “Alaska appeals court rules against gun-case searches,” is woefully incorrectly titled, and here is why.

The article has nothing to do with gun ownership, but everything to do with the protection of the Fourth Amendment right for everyone. Yes, that includes those who are breaking the laws of our flawed society. The authors of our Constitution saw the need for this amendment to protect American citizens from unlawful search and seizure of one’s property. As a former law enforcement officer I have extensive experience with this.

This article at its beginning leads the reader to think that owning a gun should somehow exempt the owner of his right to privacy and protection from illegal searches. The officer who opened the case did so without the consent of the private citizen. The officer only stopped the man for reckless driving, which is not an arrestable offense unless the private citizen is also driving without a license. The officer wrongly opened the case and discovered the private citizen was in possession of an illegal drug. This is called “fruit of the poisonous vine.”

I’m all for drug traffickers to be taken off the street. I am not however, for the violation of the Fourth Amendment. The officer could have opened a suitcase or any other case in the vehicle without the private citizen’s consent or without probable cause and the search and seizure would still have been unlawful.

The author misconstrues the appeals courts ruling to strengthen only gun owners rights when in fact it strengthens and protects the Fourth Amendment. A more correct headline should read, “Alaska appeals court rules to protect the Fourth Amendment.” The article should also be written in such a way as to purvey that message.

— Philip Smith, Soldotna

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