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Shooting Holes in the U.S. Constitution

Mary was angry as she waited in line at the grocery store in the rain. Ahead, she could see the cause of the delay: some stupid older dude with long gray hair, struggling to empty his pockets into the bowl before going through the metal detector.

Where did he find jeans with pockets in the first place?!

If we keep on the path we’ve been on, this is the world of the future. Metal detectors at the entrances to retail outlets and other public venues. And because people can easily hide things in pockets, clothing manufacturers bend to “the will of the People” and stop making pockets. Everyone — men, women, children — will carry their identification cards badges on the outside of their clothing and any personal items they insist on carrying will go into easily-x-rayed “purses” to speed the process of going through “detection lines” as they move around town.

Friday night, shots were fired outside a Bullard High School basketball game by a still-unknown someone. By today the article with the large headline reading “Metal detectors at FUSD gyms?” noted that:

Gunshots fired outside a crowded gymnasium have prompted the Fresno Unified School District to consider using metal detectors at high school basketball games. (Pablo Lopez and George Hostetter, “Metal detectors at FUSD gyms?” (January 25, 2009) p. B1, col. 2, above the fold, at the time of this writing, available online here (2015 update: story disappeared).)

Now, the school district is arguably a part of the government. And the government is arguably bound by the United States Constitution. And the United States Constitution arguably protects citizens against warrantless searches via the Fourth Amendment. So, arguably, the use of metal detectors outside a school gymnasium would be illegal.

Only since the United States does not honor the Constitution in spirit, but only in word — and then usually only in Orwellian attempts to justify wars to protect our freedom — it’s not. That is, it’s not illegal; it’s probably not even arguable except for idiots like me who still prefer pockets to purses.

But you don’t have to go there if you dislike being a submitizen, I was told when I objected to metal detectors out front of the courthouse. True that: I could change careers. Only what if I ever get summoned for jury duty? Or, worse yet, some blowhard-in-blue thinks I dissed him and charges me with a violation of Penal Code section 148 (dissing a police officer — you didn’t know that was illegal, did you?). And you don’t have to go to a ballgame at Bullard High School. Going places isn’t a right; it’s a privilege.

Uh, yeah. Tell that to our Founders. At least in their day, the tyrannical fascists against whom they fought were using written general warrants authorizing indiscriminate searches! (That’s why they wrote the Fourth Amendment after they decided that generalized unwarranted searches were worth shooting people over and then did shoot enough of them to be able to write their own Constitution.)

Moreover, as the idea of using metal detectors in more and more places spreads, there will be more and more places one doesn’t “have” to go. Eventually, some malignant wit will be telling me I don’t have to go to the grocery!

And what is this for? Why this wholesale acceptance on the part of submitizens with respect to metal detectors and warrantless searches? Well, didn’t you read the Fresno Bee? Someone fired shots outside the gymnasium!

Okay. What am I missing here? The shots were fired where? Outside the gymnasium. Outside.

Someone want to explain to me how metal detectors are going to help in this situation?

“Yes,” I hear former-statutory-rapist-cum-police-chief Jerry Dyer saying, “but they could have fired the shots inside the gymnasium!” We need metal detectors at the door now because the fact that someone fired shots outside the gymnasium last Friday means someone could fire shots inside the gymnasium some day in the future.

If this is the line of reasoning folks, then the grocery store scenario I started off with here is not all that absurd; it’s closer than you think. And guess what? The grocery store isn’t even arguably a branch of government. So the United States Constitution does not prevent the grocery store from requiring you to submit to a search before being allowed to enter.

In the 1700s, there were occasional shootings in bars and other public gathering places. Yet, for some reason, our Founders did not see fit to install security checkpoints at the entrances. Hell, for some inexplicable reason, they allowed people to walk down the street with guns strapped to their hips, or even concealed under their jackets. In broad daylight, no less!

Maybe they mistakenly thought the Fourth Amendment actually meant something.

Once — holy Moses! — somehow, someone even managed to get close enough, in a theater, to draw a bead on the back of a President’s head and blow a hole in him! (And still the Fourth Amendment remained in place.) Do you seriously believe the world is a more dangerous place today than it was in the 1700s?

Actually, as it turns out, the world is a more dangerous place today. But it’s only indirectly because of submitizens. The direct danger to our world today is the government’s increasing refusal to recognize the limitations placed on it by we, the People, in the United States Constitution. Our submitting to the government flouting the law only encourages a lawless government.

This is the main danger, first, because the government is increasingly one of men and not of law; the government itself is increasingly the enemy of the People, beneficial only to those actually wielding governmental power. Secondarily, it is true because the disrespect for law demonstrated by the government sets the stage for a disrespect for law among others. When enough people no longer respect the law, we dissolve into de facto anarchy.

In that kind of world, we actually have to hope grocery stores do install metal detectors, hire armed guards and require us to empty our pockets before entering. In a lawless society, there has to be some place we can find a little safety.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go buy a purse.