Recently, residents in Watertown, Mass. were subjected to, what some may be be calling a violation of 4th Amendment rights, a door-to-door search for the Boston bomber who had still not been found. While the video that initiated the conversation has not been adequately verified, there is enough history of exigent circumstance searches to warrant (pun intended) a discussion of the implication of possible violation of citizens 4th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.
After the 9/11 attacks, Americans became accustomed to a decreased sense of privacy in exchange for added national security in the, now defunct, War on Terrorism. While the war itself seems to have lost momentum, we now have less privacy, more terrorism on our shores, and a general distrust for our own government as well as increased violations of our Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment is short and to the point, it states that:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
But violations of the Fourth Amendment has become a commonplace activity, but what’s worse than that is that we, as Americans, are so used to it that many accept it without even understanding that it goes against our Constitution, so that when an individual attempts to speak out about it, or as in the case of Aaron Tobey, it takes a lot of effort to convince anyone that a violation has even been committed.
TSA gets a free pass on this, as they now have the power to search passengers in any way they choose to, and the only effective route to oppose one of their intrusive searches is either through legal channels or by choosing not to fly. So the only way around the issue for the a large quantity of travelers is to submit to these violations voluntarily.
But the Fourth Amendment is not part of a list of suggestions, but each year that goes by sees more and more possible violations, and an increase in acceptance. What that means is that eventually, officials won’t feel any need to abide to worry about that pesky Fourth Amendment, they will feel they can search anyone or anything any way they please. Plus they’ll have government and the laws to back them up.
Residents in Watertown, Mass. got a taste of this during the search for the infamous Boston Bombers. While there was a risk of personal safety from these two individuals, there may also have been numerous violations of Fourth Amendment constitutional rights to law-abiding citizens, living in a state where it is difficult to even obtain the privilege of gun ownership, let alone defend their families from an intruder, even one being chased by the scores of law enforcement who were actively engaged in the pursuit, that finally ended with an ironic twist; he was ultimately found by a homeowner, and not during the door to door search.
Consider this for a moment, while there are a number of people who oppose the added element of security, even if the firearm is neatly concealed under clothing, because it would be too scary for a child to go to school daily and have to either see, or be aware of a firearm being used for the protection of their safety; there are now a number of parents who have to console and counsel their children after the possible traumatization of the obvious sight of rifle carrying law enforcement during the door to door search, even if their efforts were both heroic and worthy of recognition. These children didn’t have to see a retired police officer or service member protecting them in their school, but had the chance to see the scary rifles up close and personal.
The acceptance is now ingrained in the general public, even with some conservatives, so that the argument now sides with the violations, and not the United States Constitution. As one long time conservative said “Well, they caught the guy didn’t they?” My reply was, at what expense to the Constitution?
So if the general public still wants to argue that they don’t want the scary guns in the schools protecting their children, does that mean they’re fine with the idea of cowering in a home without a firearm while the police are outside with rifles in their hands when a terrorist is on the loose? Their argument no longer has a leg to stand on.