Texas Candidates Debate Second and Fourth Amendment Issues – Where’s Probable Cause?
Texas – An article by Brian Chasnoff in the San Antonio Express-News brings to light an issue that few people pay attention to: the subtle differences in Republican candidate stands on the 2nd Amendment. Texas candidates Matt Beebe and Steve Allison are both running for the Texas House of Representatives. Both are Republicans, both have an A rating from the NRA. But they differ on what police can do when they see a person who is lawfully carrying a firearm. And that difference is extremely important for voters to understand.
“I do think (police) have a right to ask to see a license where there’s a weapon involved. Particularly with the increased concern over school shootings and terrorism, I think the police have to have the right to protect themselves and us.” Steve Allison
“That is not what our Constitution says, and I absolutely support the constitutional view that we are not to be subject to search and seizure when all we are doing is carrying out lawful acts. Unless you suspect me of a crime … you’re starting to breach those Fourth Amendment rights that I have.” Matt Beebe
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Fourth Amendment to the Constitution
What makes the difference between how police stop a person and ask them for their “license” or intent? It should be a term we all know about but rarely think about: probable cause. If we suspend the rights against unlawful search and seizure on top of the Second Amendment rights, we are asking for trouble on all of our Constitutional rights.
On March 27, Olmos Park Police Chief Rene Valenciano confronted a small rally of Open Carry Texas members and ordered them to the ground. He appears to have had no probable cause to do so, as the members were lawfully carrying their weapons. Texas is open carry for long guns and no license is required. A license is required for handguns.
In the video below you can hear the police chief shouting “get on the ground, motherf*****! CJ Grisham, founder of Open Carry Texas was reportedly told the day before the rally that they could open carry and no one would draw down on them. In the video you can see that the situation escalated into a shouting/cursing match with Grisham and others being forced to the ground. Grisham and two others were arrested for assault of a police officer, interfering with the duties of a public servant and obstructing a roadway.
Mr. Grisham “poked the bear” by his responses to the police, which was not a wise choice. The police over-reacted to the situation. The incident spawned another larger rally set for Saturday April 7.
The protesters were within their rights, although there should have been no reason on either side of this issue for such an escalation. There have been calls for the Police Chief to resign, but whether that will happen is unlikely.
So there are two different opinions about this situation. Did the police have the “right” to ask for firearm licenses (but not on long guns)? Did the police have knowledge of criminal intent? Where was the real probable cause?
The moral of the story is to check your candidates actual beliefs on the Constitution and police. Let’s not suspend the Bill of Rights because of worries over the “intent” of law-abiding citizens without cause.
Featured photo: screenshot Texas Open Carry via americanguncomponents.com