In a new plan to combat crime on the streets of our fair city, Mayor Adrian Fenty and Police Chief Cathy Lanier are encouraging residents to submit to voluntary searches of their homes in exchange for amnesty if the residents have illegal guns (or drugs). (“Excuse me, ma’am, mind if I take a look around… “)
Well, this isn’t illegal – consent is, after all, one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement – but it is head-scratchingly poor public policy. Those who don’t want to give up their contraband won’t consent to searches, those who want to get rid of it will find a way to do that without signaling “check here again next week,” and the police will waste their resources rifling through the homes of people with nothing to hide.
Maybe D.C. should pass a law outlawing gun ownership. Oh wait, they already did that and are fighting to keep it in the face of, um, the Second Amendment. (The Supreme Court hears argument in D.C. v. Heller next Tuesday.)
The bottom line is that voluntary home searches, like outright gun prohibitions, only hurt law-abiding citizens. Those who have already chosen to engage in crime will not be deterred merely because their actions violate gun-related ordinances in addition to the laws against robbery, rape, murder, etc. The only guns swept up in this “amnesty” will be those kept by people trying to protect their families from the criminals the police fail to catch.