The Constitution can be an awfully inconvenient thing sometimes. You know, with all of its requirements for annoying little details like probable cause and prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures, it can be downright difficult to run an effective police state in this country. It’s almost as if the framers were more concerned about the rights of the individual than with empowering a strong, intrusive government. Go figure, right? Don’t worry, though. There are always plenty of people elected to positions of authority who are willing to break some eggs and not let a few words on a 225 year old sheet of parchment get in their way…

People like New Orleans city councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, for instance. She’s seen enough gun violence in her town and is by-God going to do something about it. Her solution: random traffic stops to look for for illegal guns. No potential for abuse there.

It’s a practice she says former Chief Richard Pennington used in the 90’s. Hedge-Morrell says something drastic needs to change in light of the Halloween shootings on Canal and Bourbon Street that left two people dead and 14 others injured.

The councilwoman says she doesn’t believe technology will solve this problem, but instead, street policing will. She’d like to see more officers concentrate on certain neighborhoods so that they could figure out where the hot spots are and then target those areas.

And what has the councilwoman so exercised? It was the two dead bodies and 13 casualties, including two shootings in and near the French Quarter, on Halloween night.

But the idea of random traffic stops isn’t settling well with the ACLU who say warrant-less, suspicion-less stops violate the public’s constitutional rights. Director Marjorie Esman says the practice could open the floodgates to a number of other legal issues as well.

“It assumes that the guns that have been the cause of the recent spate of violence are in fact in peoples cars. It assumes that the people carrying those guns have cars and are transporting those guns in their cars and that is not necessarily the case so it isn’t likely to be effective,” says Esman.

But legal niceties don’t seem to have figured into what Councilwoman Hedge-Morrell wants to do. Neither do the facts. At least one of the shootings happened on Bourbon St. where cars are prohibited. A random traffic stop likely wouldn’t have done anything to prevent it. Of course, it’s probably just a matter of time before she also proposes a random stop-and-frisk program, too.

And since it’s legal to carry a gun – concealed or not – in your vehicle in Louisiana, the typical “random” stop probably won’t take more than fifteen or twenty minutes while the NOPD’s finest check your gun and your record for priors and warrants. The city that care forgot has never been known for its efficiency. Or the courtesy and effectiveness of its police force.

I don’t know whether the swearing in process for New Orleans city council includes the promise to uphold and defend the Constitution as with congressional seats and other federal positions. But advocating random civil rights violations should be enough to trigger the impeachment process even if you’ve only been elected as the Crescent City’s dog catcher, a job with which Ms. Hedge-Morrell would likely have her hands full. Here’s hoping her constituents remember that at election time.

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42 Responses to What Could Possibly Go Wrong: NOLA Official Wants Random Gun Searches

  1. It’s scary when I start siding with the ACLU – first the case against the DOJ wanting to be able to (legally) lie about documents, and now this.

    • +1. The ACLU has a long track record of conveniently omitting certain parts of the Constitution and Bill of Rights as a matter of principle. That organization reminds me of the guy that likes to keep rattlesnakes for home protection; Sure, it is effective, but what could possibly go wrong with trusting them?

    • “It assumes that the guns that have been the cause of the recent spate of violence are in fact in peoples cars. It assumes that the people carrying those guns have cars and are transporting those guns in their cars and that is not necessarily the case so it isn’t likely to be effective,” says Esman.
      —–
      Did you catch that? The guns have been the cause of violence. The ACLU is NOT on our side. This is one case where the enemy of my enemy most certainly is NOT my friend.

        • I do not believe that is the case.“It assumes that the guns THAT HAVE BEEN THE CAUSE of the recent spate of violence…”

          The quote points out that the assumption that the guns are in peoples’ cars is wrong.

        • I see your point, but if you look at the bigger issue–the ACLU was fighting to get a firearm retuned for a person who had been wrongly arrested and had his gun confiscated, though he had a CCW permit–then I believe the intent becomes clear (though poorly worded). The firearm in question had not been used in a crime, so it had to go back to the owner.The ACLU goes on to emphatically support gun ownership right when it argues,”For the government to keep property that someone is legally entitled to own, there must be good cause, and the owner is entitled to due process,” said ACLU Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman. “Mr. Houston has done nothing wrong. There are no criminal charges against him. His firearm, which he is and was entitled to carry, has been confiscated for no reason.”

  2. “She’d like to see more officers concentrate on certain neighborhoods so that they could figure out where the hot spots are and then target those areas.”

    WTF? If they don’t already know were the “hot spots are” certain neighborhoods would probably be missed / targeted.

  3. When is the NAACP going to come out against the racial profiling that will undoubtedly result from a measure such as this? I would be willing to bet a very large sum of money that those “certain neighborhoods” and “hot spots” are not the middle and upper class areas of the city.

    • Well, no kidding. Honestly, how many random shootings or gang-related turf wars rage on in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods? They’re talking about the slums – the ghettos; the places where poor people of color reside.

      There’s not likely to be a large outcry from wealthy campaign contributors or a mobilization of middle-class voters expressing outrage at this blatantly unconstitutional power grab.

      Then, in a couple years, after lawsuits have been decided, it can be determined that the city engaged in racial profiling or some other racist practice, and that the city would need to expand its random searches to all areas of the city in order to be “fair”. Thus, the police-state expands even further, one step at a time.

      See how that works now?

  4. As a former resident of the metro area, this is another reason to stay away from that fetid swamp of vomit called New Orleans.After hurricane Katrina, Mayor Nagin and police Superintendent Riley had law enforcement officers ILLEGALY confiscate firearms from citizens homes. (http://www.theshootist.net/2008/12/court-decision-on-new-orleans-gun.html) The Constitution meant little then as does this knee-jerk-reaction from another ill-informed politician. Read this article and see that this lame approach is nothing new to some officers in the NOPD (God bless the good ones).http://www.louisianasportsman.com/details.php?id=1226

  5. What is it with gungrabbers and sinfully ugly women? This councilwoman looks like a schnauzer. No offense intended to schnauzers.

  6. She looks more like a man than anything else.
    How about random searches for criminals with warrants? And I think they know what neighborhoods (if you can call them that any more) the troublemakers reside in. Sack up and start patrolling the streets again and see if you can catch a few predators now and then.

  7. The cops are pretty crooked in NOLA… just ask the criminals and the police in neighboring parishes. Something like this would ripe for abuse.

    Of course, a judge in the Crescent City recently ruled that a cop can search a vehicle for drugs on the suspicion that there might be something there. A ‘gut feeling’ has now replaced judicial oversight into police activities. Another home run.

    The only way that they’re going to solve the gun violence problem in that city is to reduce the gang activity that surrounds the illegal drug trade. Decriminalize drugs and legalize freedom to take the money out of the black market. That’s the only way to win the ‘WAR on Drugs’ without throwing more money into a black hole.

      • “Surrender” to let people choose what to do with their own lives? Yea, that’s a real loss. I suppose you think that they “surrendered” the war on guns when they allowed us to have the shoulder thingy that flips up, right?

        The war on drugs has nothing to do with right or wrong and has every to do with people like you wanting to force your views on others, despite it causing massive crime as a result (see prohibition in the 1920’s).

        • The War on Drugs is a war on civil liberties in disguise, another variation is Gun Control. All roads of assaults on civil liberties lead to Rome, or should I say Total Government.

        • Surrender to create even more problems for the people around them. When one person gets high a lot more people end up using drugs without the fun.

        • Decriminalizing drugs wouldn’t lead to a rampant increase in drug use. Maybe a few people more, but not in droves.

          I wouldn’t do anything but pot and only every so often.

          Are you afraid addicts and others you look down on wouldn’t be punished legally?

          What right do you have telling people what they can and can’t ingest?

        • Hallefallujah!

          In the early 1900s one could purchase cocaine and morphine from
          the Sears catalog. That anything has changed is why we have
          millions incarcerated at 50K per year each.

          Addiction rates don’t change vis-a-vis legality of any “drug” . The
          only difference is the percentage we incarcerate.

          Sad, sad that we lock up anyone for doing what they wish to their
          body.

          Free country my ass…

        • Why are you so afraid that others might do something that you disapprove of, but only hurts themselves?

  8. There might be another solution. What are the odds the Bourbon street shooter has prior gun violations and is out on parole? Maybe if we actually kept the criminals locked up they wouldn’t shoot so many people.

  9. Agreed. Why stop at Random Stop-And-Frisks? Let’s go all the way: If we find drugs on a person we shoot them and leave them in the street as a warning to other users. Found a gun? Hang ’em high. Who cares if it is a legally owned weapon, guns are bad! After all, a person with a gun is 100% more likely to shoot someone then someone without a gun. Let’s make the world a safer place and kill everyone who may be a risk to our society!

    • I’m sorry, I’m just tired of the “We know what’s best for you” crowed. Saw a piece yesterday that said you were more likely to develope cancer from living a sedintary life and anotherone that said hotdogs contributed to colen cancer.

      These sorts of things just make me testy.

      If I want to carry a gun, smoke my cigarettes and eat chili then whoes business is it of other knuckle heads.

      • The way health care is set up yours(and my) poor lifestyle choices certainly effect everyone else, in the form of increased premiums, etc

        • This is why the politicians so badly want to manage your healthcare. As soon as they do, they can justify controlling almost every aspect of your life in the name of the public good.

          If you give a mouse a cookie…

  10. I agree with Joe Nobody, we should pass some laws making it illegal to murder innocent people and to steal and etc. This woman’s a complete fool and I hope see gets voted out of office, unless these people enjoy having their rights violated.

  11. You know that little saying, ‘Freedom isn’t free’? Well, perfect example. This slogan isn’t just applied to soldiers fighting bad guys. Being free has it’s hazards, it’s the nature of the beast. We all take a chance and have to come to terms with other peoples’ freedom, just as they have to accept everyone else being free. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.
    Tragic as these shootings are, it isn’t worth all the people in New Orleans, even if they live in a “hot spot”, losing their RIGHT from an intrusive and over-bearing government.

  12. As if they really do not do this already….What is it with these politicians? They are so out of touch with society… They get this little bit of power than turn into dictators making their own rules… ???

  13. She sounds crazy. I wonder if she’s stealing from us? I think politicians should be subject to suprise audits. We’ll all be safer.

  14. Swamp Thing speaks with forked tongue.

    Typical Dumbasscrat. (mexican accent) “Constitution? We don’t need no stinking Constitution!!!”

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