Gun control activists in states like Massachusetts are constantly demanding increased regulations and more laws to “improve gun safety,” laws which disproportionately impact law abiding gun owners and do little to reduce the impact of gun violence on the community. In response, gun owners typically point out that it is far more effective to simply enforce the existing laws and get illegal guns off the streets than to bother the law abiding.
The high court in Massachusetts is now making that effort a little harder, throwing out a conviction for possession of an unregistered and illegal handgun because, as they see it, the mere fact that the man in question ran from the police isn’t sufficient cause to search him.
From the ruling:
We do not eliminate flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion analysis whenever a black male is the subject of an investigatory stop. However, in such circumstances, flight is not necessarily probative of a suspect’s state of mind or consciousness of guilt. Rather, the finding that black males in Boston are disproportionately and repeatedly targeted for FIO [Field Interrogation and Observation] encounters suggests a reason for flight totally unrelated to consciousness of guilt. Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity. Given this reality for black males in the city of Boston, a judge should, in appropriate cases, consider the report’s findings in weighing flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion calculus.
In short, the court believes that the highly publicized shootings of black males by police in recent months now makes it acceptable for those individuals to run from the police.
Courts have long upheld the idea that people don’t run from the police unless they have something to hide, and trying to evade the police provides all the probable cause necessary to perform a simple search of a person and their effects. The impact of eliminating this long-standing rationale for searching a suspect remains to be seen. But all signs indicate that it will make the job of law enforcement much more difficult, not to mention dangerous for law enforcement officers.
It will also put individuals who would otherwise have been caught with an illegally possessed gun back on the streets…endangering others. All while the Massachusetts AG continues her assault on law abiding gun owners.