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The ACLU has been known—notorious in some circles—for being fairly selective about the civil liberties they choose to defend. But if you’re in the business of upholding constitutional rights, playing favorites and choosing to ignore rights violations of those with whom you disagree politically tends to erode your credibility. Which is why it’s so refreshing to read at that their Rhode Island affiliate is suing the Cranston, RI PD to get a gun owner his heaters back . . .

The local affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Cranston Police Department for a resident whose weapons collection was seized while the man was being evaluated because a friend thought he might be suicidal.

The issue at hand: even after receiving assurances from a professional that the individual in question is not, in fact, suicidal, the cop shop let it me known they’re not going to let his guns go without a court order.

The weapons, including firearms and ceremonial samurai swords, were taken almost nine months ago and were not returned after the man, Robert Machado, produced a letter from his psychotherapist saying he had never “demonstrated suicidal tendencies or thoughts,” and “there should be no concern” returning his weapons.

We don’t know if punitive damages are a possibility in a case like this, but a hefty fine might go a long way toward making other cops (or the cities that employ them) think twice about  unreasonably holding private property in the future.

Rights are rights. They’re enumerated in the constitution and whether it’s George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, a Nazi wannabe goose-stepping through Skokie or a gun owner trying to get his lawfully-owned firearms back from the overly acquisitive local constabulary, they all deserve the same degree of protection. Good on the Rhode Island ACLU for recognizing that fact. This time.

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  1. I think a lot of the flack that the ACLU gets on this issue is they tend not to take cases that a really muddy. Let’s face it, when a gun gets ‘used’ the issue is often very muddy and emotions run high. Cowards maybe, left wing psychos, probably not. đŸ™‚

  2. Why can’t they sue the cops/chief personally as well? I would hope qualified immunity doesn’t cover acts such as this. Did they have a warrant to seize them? Was that guy naive enough to consent to a search?

  3. The fines should be incurred on the officers themselves, not the city or state. Cops might be a little less frivolous about breaching our rights. For some reason, paid vacation doesn’t seem to be working.

  4. Counter-intuitive as it may first appear, the ACLU is only taking this case to highlight, publickly, the “absurd” notion that anyone could possilby have a ‘right’ to own a firearm.
    If the guy ultimately “offs” himself at a later date, so much the better.

    • It is counter-intuitive.

      Especially after you read the ACLU’s brief. to wit:



      5. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

      6. The Second Amendment is incorporated as against the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, such that Defendant cannot, under color of law, deprive Plaintiff of his right to keep and bear arms.

      7. Article I, Section 22 of the Rhode Island Constitution provides: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

      Lookit those darned liberals, cleverly lulling us into a false sense of security with all that talk about ‘right to keep and bear arms’!

    • + 1 They want to not only beat that dead horse of an argument, but put a saddle on it and enter it in the Derby.

    • The comments on the link are marvelouos–I only scanned lightly, but did not find a single one supporting the ACLU’s stance–even by its own members. Perhaps the unanimity of condemnation encouraged a change in attitude?

    • You’re right, but this whole case simply highlights (in the ACLU’s viewpoint) that all gun owners are clinically insane.

    • However every one knows that once someone decides to kill themselves, the bullet will automatically seek a child after exiting.

      But really I agree. Besides, as it has been pointed out before on this site, studies have determined that suicide is independent of method. That means someone considering suicide is not more willing to do so as a result of possessing a firearm.

      What I’m guessing is the reasoning in not allowing someone with suicidal tendencies to posess a firearm is that beig suicidal is considered to be a lapse in mental health isn’t it? And mentaly ill people aren’t allowed to own a gun. That’s a restriction I happen to be okay with. If someone is mentally ill they are unpredictable and may have the capacity to harm others without an appreciation for the consequences or the harm done.

      The problem in this situation is anyone can cry “that person is suicidal” and the person is being perceived guilty until proven innocent. Although the po po don’t seem to care even after that innocence was proven by the testimony of a psychiatrist.

      • I can agree with the mentally ill restriction (though really, if someone is proven to be a danger to society, whether a violent criminal or violently mentally ill, they should be locked up – not free to roam). What I disagree with is that being suicidal is a mental disorder. Just because someone values different things in life and no longer finds their life worth living doesn’t make them insane, it just means that they have different priorities than you do.

        Oh, and I’m a huge fan of your screen name, btw.

  5. Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door? You mean the chief law enforcement officer of a state using physical intimidation to deny others their rights? Not a good example!

  6. We all have our blind spots, but the ACLU does good work in many areas. That being said, it’s high time that the organization got on the right side of this issue. After all, it involves government intrusion and overreach.

    I’ve had gun control advocates tell me that psychological tests must be a requirement for gun ownership, as if 100,000,000 of us could all get an appointment on a couch next Tuesday, but this case illustrates what happens when there are too many qualifications and what happens when the government has any discretion about rights. What, you’re a good citizen? Sorry, you still don’t get your guns back.

    Thank you, ACLU, for taking this on.

        • Ronnie banned the carrying of loaded firearms (excluding hunting and unincorporated areas) for the entire state of California. Not exactly a model of gun rights activism.

        • Remember that ban was written in response to the black panthers were holding loaded firearms to deter people from voting. If they had just outlawed organizations like the black panthers it might have been better.

        • joecr, (I am not sure if you are being sarcastic) the Black Panthers who prompted Reagan to infringe upon gun rights were not intimidating voters; they were following the police around making sure that the police did not have free-reign in using power against African Americans. The intimidation of voters was done by two guys in Philedelphia, not in California, about 40 years after the real Black Panthers made their mark.

  7. State ACLU chapters are often times better than the national organization. I still like some of the work they do too, though.

  8. Don’t think you meant to write it this way, but you sure did a great job of lumping gun owners in with racists and Nazi’s. How about something like, “… and rights are applicable to all, enumerated across the range from Nazi’s and George Wallace to the free press and lawful gun owners, they all deserve the same protection…”

  9. It should be pointed out that this is “The local affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union” not the National ACLU. Local branches of the ACLU often depart from the “official policy” and are the only saving grace of the organization as far as the Second Amendment is concerned.

  10. I believe the police should have immediately returned his weapons, but has anyone thought about the “friend” who made the concerned complaint to the police? A real friend? or an axe to grind? and did he share his intentions with his other half?
    Oh yeah, I also agree about the officers being personally sued, to maybe bring an awareness and consequence to what seems like another method of confiscating our guns.

  11. I do not know how the laws are elsewhere in this country, but you can not sue a police officer in Mississippi you can not even find a lawyer to file a tort clam in this state even when they ram your car because they do not pay atenchen. An they are at falt.
    If this organization wants to get a good name for its self it would join hands with the AMERICAN PEOPLE to pertect all of our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.


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