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 providencejournal.com 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.