WASHINGTON, D.C. –-(Ammoland.com)- In a case argued in front of the Supreme Court, that could affect Red Flag laws across the country, SCOTUS ruled unanimously that the “community caretaking” exception does not apply inside the home.
Caniglia v. Strom centers around the police seizing the firearms of a man that his wife reported as suicidal. The incident that led to the issue started when Edward and Kim Caniglia began to have marital problems in their 27-year long marriage. Mr. Caniglia grabbed his unloaded handgun and sat it on the table, and told his wife, “shoot me now and get it over with.”
Mr. Caniglia then left the house to go on a drive. While he was gone, Mrs. Caniglia hid the gun. When he returned, the couple started to fight again. This time, Mrs. Caniglia left the house and decided to stay at a motel to let things calm down and blow over.
Mrs. Caniglia tried to call her husband the following day, but he was not answering the phone. She then contacted two police officers to do a welfare check on her husband with her. She told the police about what her husband did the night before but stressed that her husband didn’t threaten her. He was just expressing how hurt he was because of the fighting. Mr. Caniglia has never been abusive and does not have a criminal record.
Police told Mrs. Caniglia to stay in the car. They found Mr. Caniglia sitting on the back porch. They talked to him, and he assured them that he wasn’t suicidal. One of the officers said Mr. Caniglia appeared completely normal but was upset because the police became involved in the dispute. The officers wanted him to go to the hospital for a mental evaluation.
Mr. Caniglia was hesitant because he believed the officers would seize his guns if he did, but the officers agreed not to take his firearms. The officers had him transported to the hospital via ambulance. Once gone, the police did what they promised Mr. Caniglia that they would not do. They entered his home and searched for guns. The officers seized two handguns, magazines, and ammunition without a warrant. They claimed to have used the “community caretaking” exception.
When Mr. Caniglia returned home, he found out police seized his guns without a warrant and did not leave him with any way to retrieve his firearms. When he tried to get the guns back, the police refused to turn over the man’s property. He would have to sue to get them back.
He claimed that police violated his Fourth Amendment rights and his right to due process. The case made its way through the courts. President Joe Biden strongly supported the actions of the police. President Biden has been pushing Congress to pass a national “red flag” law.
SCOTUS rejected the notion that police could take someone’s guns without due process.
Anti-gun groups condemned the decision of the Court and claimed it makes people less safe. Gun rights groups hailed the decision as a victory for freedom. One gun group, Gun Owners of America, filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of Mr. Caniglia. The organization celebrated the decision as a victory for inalienable rights.
“The Supreme Court today smacked down the hopes of gun-grabbers across the nation,” Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt told AmmoLand. “The Michael Bloombergs of the world would have loved to see the Supreme Court grant police the authority to confiscate firearms without a warrant. But the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Fourth Amendment protections in the Bill of Rights protect gun owners from such invasions into their homes.”
The case will have a rippling effect across the legal landscape. The courts will have to decide if this decision affects “red flag” laws.
About John Crump
John is an NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.