Constitutional Rights to Video and Audio Record in Public

Recording Maps
Constitutional Rights to Video and Audio Record in Public
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -( The ubiquity of inexpensive and capable video and audio recording devises is changing the legal and political landscape for everyone, but especially for police, criminals, and armed Americans.

Graphic from

The open carry movement learned early on that recording of an incident removed the he said/she said ambiguity that is often found to be in a police officer’s favor.  There have been many cases where the interaction was recorded and a settlement was paid to the person exercising their rights.

Many defensive actions by armed Americans have been caught on surveillance cameras and have gone viral on the Internet.

AR Gunshop Gunfigh tOut of Battery
Gun Store Robbery And Gunfight Caught on Video

Recent gun store robbery and gunfight caught on video.

The trend in the courts is to find that recording in public is a first amendment right; specifically the recording of public officials, including police, in the performance of their public duties.  In 2011 the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that way.  From

 The CMLP is thrilled to report that in the case of Glik v. Cunniffe, which the CMLP has blogged previously and in which the CMLP attempted to file an amicus brief, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has issued a resounding and unanimous opinion in support of the First Amendment right to record the actions of police in public.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the same way in striking down an Illinois law in 2012.  The law specifically made it illegal to record police officers.   That law was appealed to the Supreme court, and the Supreme court decided not to hear the case.  From

Writing for the 7th Circuit majority, Judge Diane Sykes said Alvarez staked out an “extreme position” in arguing that openly recording what police say on the job on streets, sidewalks, plazas and parks deserved no First Amendment protection.

Judge Richard Posner dissented, saying the ruling “casts a shadow” over electronic privacy statutes nationwide that require consent of at least one party to record many conversations.

In the map shown above, the laws are generally crafted as “wiretap” laws designed to restrict the recording of telephone conversations.  That is far different than recording public interactions, in which there is little expectation of privacy.   I am unaware of any other appeals court cases that address the issue.   As nearly half of the people in the small number of  states with restrictive laws reside in the Ninth Circuit, and with California having one of the most restrictive laws, a challenge of the California law and to the Ninth Circuit seems likely at some point.

A retired state patrol officer has told me that he expects that all police will record all of their time on duty within 10 years.   President Obama has pushed for certain police agencies to require the use of body cameras while on duty.

For armed Americans, a recorder has become as much of a tool for defending Constitutional rights as a firearm.

There may come a time when the first question a prosecutor asks is “Where is the recording?“.


c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Police forces need accountability, and city police forces respond only to the whims of the mayor and city council. All local police should be placed under the jurisdiction of the county wherein they are operating. The county sheriff should be elected by the voters every two years. If there are problems with the selection, training, promotion, effectiveness, or integrity of the sheriff’s police, or with the way money is being allocated or priorities being set, the voters will have their say.


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Screw copblock….They are a group of cop haters that love nothing more to stir things up and support criminals like Michael Brown. Ammoland needs to figure out what side of the issue they are on and stick with it.


Well maybe if the PIG’s stopped being a bunch of Jack Booted Thugs for the Police State we now live in Copblock would go away.

Grow up and see the problem instead of blaming a website for your Co-Workers Policies.

Cops do NOT Work for us and DO NOT Protect US. They are not even Constitutional.


If the folks at Copblock are liars, document it. If you can’t, shut up.

No one has to “make up” bad police behavior. All that has to be done is to video (and audio) them on the job. The misbehavior will be obvious.

The only people who can’t see it are other cops (most) and all police administrators (protecting the city from liability) and many politicians (who believe they can’t get elected without the Police/Fire Union’s endorsement). And, BTW, only the good cops (the few, the proud, the harassed) can change the police culture.


I have a better solution to the police problem than putting cameras on them. Fire them & abolish their agencies. Remember, it’s the police who will take our guns. We don’t need them forcing us into a protection racket. Community groups & private companies voluntarily hired & financed are the way to go.