Free Markets, Free People

There oughtta be a law!

Those of us on the libertarian-ish end if things support, at the very least, a return of government size and scope to its constitutionally defined bounds. As part of that, the last thing we generally want is more Federal laws about most things. We’re supposed to support a more federal system, and decry most Federal pre-emption of state laws. But I’ve been thinking lately there there are a few Federal laws I’d like to see that do pre-empt local and state laws.

In several states, photographers and videographers have been arrested and charged under various wiretapping statutes for filming police officers and other public officials in public. Just yesterday, I wrote about a young woman who was prosecuted for surreptitiously making an audio recording of police officers who were urging her to drop an official complaint against another officer. Whether you are an elected official or a DMV clerk, your duties should be completely open to public audit—except for some rather obvious and narrow military or national security exemptions—and you should have no expectation of privacy in the performance of your duties. Anybody should be able to film  or record you at any time you are performing those duties.

There should be some system whereby any private citizen who has performed federal military or law enforcement service can obtain a federal concealed weapons permit that is valid in every place in the United States, irrespective of any state or local laws to the contrary. Those eligible should have completed at least one term of service with an honorable discharge or its equivalent, have no criminal record, and no history of mental illness.

There have been a troubling number of incidents where police officials have served warrants in the wrong locations, often late at night, resulting in armed confrontations with homeowners. Sometimes, the homeowner is shot and killed. Sometimes, as in the Corey Maye case, a police officer is shot and killed, and the homeowner faces a terrible legal ordeal. That’s just wrong. If the police serve a warrant at the wrong location, for any reason, they forfeit the right to charge the homeowner for any unfortunate gunplay that results. As the police are solely responsible for creating the situation, they should be solely responsible for the outcome, as well as any damages that might accrue from their mistake. This should include prosecution for animal cruelty for a police officer who commits puppycide during these raids. I hate it when they do that, and they seem to do it a lot.

You might notice that all my laws place burdens on the government, not the citizens. Maybe you could suggest some other liberty-friendly laws.

Dale Franks
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32 Responses to There oughtta be a law!

  • Sunset provision that requires every law/regulation/department on the books to be removed automatically every 10 years unless re-authorised by a majority in both houses of congress and re-signed by the president.

  • Broadly, the only “federal” crimes ought to be (A) those committed on federal property; (B) those involving some facet of constitutional federal authority, such as mail fraud, counterfeiting, etc., and; (C) those involving some crossing of the national border, such as international smuggling, drug running, etc.

    Fundamentally, the Constitution is a very “liberty-friendly” law; the problem is that, over the years, we have allowed the federal government to have greater and greater powers.  Color me old-fashioned, but I think that it might not be such a bad thing to return to the 19th century model of federalism, where a “federal officer” was a rara avis and the vast majority of our laws were written and upheld at the state / local level.  I’m not opposed to the federal government having a law enforcement arm such as the marshal’s service that can ASSIST state and local law enforcement, especially with crimes that involve multiple jurisdictions, but local law enforcement should generally be supreme.

    • What about crimes that cross state jurisdictions, doc?  Or that cover multiple jurisdictions?  Those were the reason for the development of the modern FBI.
      And, FYI, federal officers in the 19th Century did NOT enjoy very good reputations.

      • I admit that multiple jurisdictions, especially crossing state lines, might be a good case for federal action.  However, I suggest that having the local sheriff / police arrest the suspect and extradite him to the place where the crime(s) were committed will and does work without the feds getting involved.

        Ragspierre[F]ederal officers in the 19th Century did NOT enjoy very good reputations.

        This dovetails with the post yesterday about police misbehavior.  The answer, in my view, is to set and enforce the absolute highest standards of behavior and professionalism.  For all the criticism that Hoover has received over the years (much of it, apparently, very justified), I think he was on the right track with the FBI: the agents were required to be well-educated, they were well-trained, and supposed to adhere to the ethic of fidelity, bravery, and integrity.  The two tricks are finding the bad apples and getting them out of the barrel ASAP (indeed, keeping them out in the first place), and stopping politicians from setting up situations that lead to police misbehavior.  For example, the cops didn’t start doing no-knock raids for larks: politicians, through appointed district attorneys and police chiefs, told them to do it.

        The police ought to know that they are serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law at all times*, and that failure – especially WILLFUL failure – to do so will carry VERY heavy penalties.  To whom much is given, from whom much is expected.


        (*) Yeah, I know, I know, but I think that these “directives” from “Robocop” are an excellent summary of the duties of the police.  I also suggest that the vast majority of our police officers are the sort of honorable and courageous people who naturally embrace these duties.

  • These things you are talking about all concern constitutional rights, speech rights, gun rights, In that respect the Federal Government does have a roll to play in making sure no local yokel tin pot dictator abuses the rights of citizens.

  • I’m curious that your stance with the gun permits is limited only to ex Military and Police officers, especially after you also advocate a law aimed at curbing police abuse.  Why should a ex-policeman have more right to bear arms than any other citizen?

  • There should be some system whereby any private citizen who has performed federal military or law enforcement service can obtain a federal concealed weapons permit…

    Which seems a lot like “There ought to be a law” (the six most dangerous words in the language).  And it seems to suggest a Federal law to FORCE all states and localities into homogenous compliance.
    See how seductive that is…???
    Now, if you said, “There ought to be a state-to-state reciprocal compact that would allow…” then, good!

  • On the warrant deal, under common law a cop busting down your door without right is a home invader.
    That is very clear.  (How you can respond to a home invasion varies…a LOT).
    What isn’t clear is what happens when a prosecutor goes tyrannical, and tries to prosecuted a citizen who defends their home.

  • There should be some system whereby any private citizen who has performed federal military or law enforcement service can obtain a federal concealed weapons permit that is valid in every place in the United States, irrespective of any state or local laws to the contrary. Those eligible should have completed at least one term of service with an honorable discharge or its equivalent, have no criminal record, and no history of mental illness.

    Sorry, but I will disagree with you here, and rather vehemently. The right to self defense is a <b>natural</b> right, not one that is given to “special” people who took certain jobs. Every last citizen in this country has the right to keep and bear arms, period. If they are not trustworthy enough to have a firearm, then they are not trustworthy enough to be allowed access to gasoline, matches, knives, powdered coffee creamer (makes a WONDERFUL fireball), baseball bats, powdered chlorine & Coca-cola. If you can assure me that someone is so dangerous that, if allowed access to a firearm, they <b>will</b> commit a crime, then they should be in jail.
    This ‘special status’ for cops is a joke. Cops have a higher percentage of criminal behavior than CCW permit holders. Soldiers? That’s a joke too. I’m a former Marine and my training was about handling a rifle and killing the enemy, I didn’t receive a lick of training on how to handle a self defense situation in the civilian world.
    Either we’re all equal or we’re not. There’s nothing libertarian about ‘special groups’.

    • Agreed.  Now, it seems reasonable to me that the local authorities might take prior military service / LEO status into consideration in issuing a permit… though the idea of having to have a permit to exercize a constitutional right is odious.

      Want to carry a gun?  Fine; it’s your right and we can’t say “no” unless you’ve done something to abrogate your rights (such as be convicted of a felony or mental incompetence).  Use it to commit a crime, however, and you will be in soooooo much trouble.

      • Whenever I see someone advocating special privileges for prior military, it honestly makes me wonder if they’ve even served.  The vast majority of people in the Navy these days have never fired an actual firearm.  They use simulated firearms in boot camp, and get either no training after, or ridiculously poor training.  I learned more about firearms in my CHP class than I did in 4 years in the Navy, and that’s when we used real handguns.

        Put simply, most people in the Navy (and Air Force as well I suspect) are less trained in the use of a firearm than the typical CHP permit holder.
        Beyond that, public service of any kind should never be the criteria for increased privileges.  If you wanted to push for expanding, federally, the benefits of having any state concealed handgun permit, that I could get behind.  Your suggestion, however, screams too much of further establishing a privileged class of people.

    • I agree absolutely; as a law-abiding citizen I have a right to arms, it is not something to be purchased from the government by service.
      And being a LEO is not that much of an endorsement; I’ve known too many police who were unsafe with firearms and didn’t practice.  I’ve also seen a lot of them that use the badge and gun to bully people, and who regularly break the law and are protected by their fellow officers.

      • I think the bigger part of “if you served” is the fact that it proves basic competency with a firearm, more-so than some weekend class you might take, since in the military you are – IIRC – required to prove you can shoot straight every year or so.

        • Every… Year…

          Because spending 1/8760th of a year shooting a rifle = proof of proficiency in handguns and civilian law.

        • Not true. I fired 50 shots from a pistol once in Navy bootcamp. I never touched a firearm as a part of the remainder of my 6 years of military service.

        • I’ve known more than one person who served who I wouldn’t trust with a water pistol.  I can name at least two who fired a rifle in basic training for the first and last times in their lives.  Neither one has ever handled or fired a handgun.

    • *shrug*
      It’s just a politically viable minimal competency requirement. I don’t care if you spent your career “shoveling shit in Louisiana”, produce a DD214, and you get a concealed carry permit. Even in CA, NYC, Chicago, Detroit, etc.
      The point is to find away around the more onerous local laws, without the utterly unrealistic assertion that anyone should be able to carry a concealed weapon at any time. That simply won’t even happen.

      • Well,  in all fairness, I suspect that our ancestors would have thought that requiring a permit to carry a gun “would never happen”.

        I sometimes muse about how George III simply missed the boat.  Instead of sending a column of redcoats to sieze Adams et al and the militia’s powder at Lexington and Concord, he should simply have required the Minutemen to apply for a license to carry a musket, gotten loyalists to run a bunch of articles in the colonial papers portraying militiamen as “bitter people clinging to their guns and Bibles” and himself as a reasonable man trying to pass common-sense laws to stop criminals getting their hands on firearms, and perhaps gotten the crown governors to (ahem) encourage the sale of firearms to hostile Indians with the stated intent of tracking where the guns were going.  And no more “militia loophole” for arms sales, either!

        • I suspect that our ancestors would have thought that requiring a permit to carry a gun “would never happen”.
          Well, they were wrong. Now, in many jurisdictions, no one can carry a gun at all. I have a suggestion that would allow a lot more people to do so, irrespective of local ordinances.
          You hate it ’cause it’s not perfect, and doesn’t allow anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon. Got it.

          • How exactly does 47 states being shall issue or better qualify as not being able to carry a gun in many jurisdictions? Maybe ten years ago that was the case but now the number of states with restrictive carry laws is a small minority.
            I don’t think you understand that people hate your proposal because it creates ANOTHER class of special people, we’ve got enough of those and really don’t need any more “only ones” running around.
            In requiring federal service, even if it’s not the only requirement, to exercise a basic human right you set a dangerous and scary precedent.

          • Funny how people who claim to be libertarians say that they want to increase freedoms by granting special privileges for select groups, and always seem to be a member of the groups who are to receive this boon.

      • I don’t believe that is so in 90% of California where the politics is quite otherwise, and the may-issue laws are at the discretion of a political entity, like a County Sheriff.

  • IIUC, there a damn few penalties for misconduct at the Federal level. There were, what, less than twenty federal employees fired from their jobs in 2009? That’s insane. That indicates a federal government that is completely unaccountable. We really should refer to the four brances of government: legislative, judicial, executive, and bureaucracy.
    Yes, the bureaucracy is now a branch unto itself and as isolated and unanswerable as the judicial branch, perhaps even more so.

  • So long as we are making a wishlist, I’d like to direct federal funds towards research that would discover a means for me to be able to punch people via TCI/IP.

    • We developed the equivalent in college, it was a device that would allow you to zap Howard Cosell into your living room.  It was destroyed after the first 40 units were developed and unit tested during an NFL game demonstrated that Howard was unlikely to survive product distribution to the public at large.

  • Rights are inherent to the individual by virtue of their breathing, and should not be suppressed or removed without some demonstration of incompetence or criminality by the accused that places some person other than the individual at physical risk.

    I don’t think, given history and the fundamental premises of our nation, that it’s a really good idea to create any further classes of “super-citizens” – but rather, we should be looking to dismantle such of those classes as we have.
    I’d suggest our goal should be a restoration of nation-wide “constitutional carry”, ideally by legislative means, but a litigatory approach is perfectly acceptable.

    • Give me a call when that happens.

      • Dale, with all due respect, it will never happen when even Libertarians are trying their damnedest to carve out special favors for ‘the anointed’.
        You talk as if gun restrictions haven’t been dropping off the books like flies over the past decade. Take Illinois, looking completely out of place as it continues to fight what the rest of the country has already realized – more guns do not equal more crime.
        Now, I am a board member for Florida Carry. Not even a year old and we have some legislation under our belt. HB45 gave preemption teeth. Those who pass local gun laws or enforce them now will pay fines and be removed from office. We didn’t have to carve out special exceptions for cops and soldiers for this to happen.
        I understand the desire to incrementally move the ball forward, but at this time, we’re in a much better position than we were in the mid 90’s and we’re on the offensive. I will fight any legislation that gives any one group more rights than another. Continuing that path is folly.

        I’m not claiming we have to be ‘pure’ on this matter, but claiming some pigs are more equal than others is a nonstarter, tis all.

  • I go with Gay Cynic and Robb the Marine, not Dale who is unclear, on the idear, of what Liberty rea;lly  is.