4th Amendment vs. 2nd Amendment — meekness vs. rage

As I listen to or read about the hue and cry over our Second Amendment rights if any new laws or restrictions on “bearing arms” are instituted, I wonder about the relative lack of concern over our Fourth Amendment rights.

On one hand, citizens rail against losing one Constitutional right — to bear arms —and on the other, they meekly submit to actions that abrogate another, unreasonable search and seizure.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

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.

How many of you have heard or actually voiced the “as long as we’re safe” mantra to explain or even endorse the 4th Amendment violations that have been instituted since 9-11, especially those by Homeland Security and the TSA? Dare I surmise that many of those leading the charge against any gun regulation are standing meekly in line at the airport, willingly giving up their rights against unreasonable search and seizure in the name of “safety” (Note: the TSA has not apprehended one terrorist.).

TV commentator Bill Maher gives a much broader view (2nd half of video) of all our “rights” that are slipping away. Many are already gone, and with nary a murmur. But our right to fly without being groped or our clothes seen through or our intent questioned — in essence, deemed guilty until proven innocent — is such a blatant usurping of our 4th Amendment rights that it’s shocking that the rabid defenders of our Constitution out there — including those in Congress — not only say nothing, but acquiesce to it all.

In the early 1980s, the NRA took a strong stand against criminal background checks, charging that they were an invasion of privacy. Echoing NRA executive director Wayne LaPierre’s point of view that the federal government would be punishing people if it kept a list of assault weapon purchases, former Rep. Connie Mack (FL) on a recent panel discussion hosted by Soledad O’Brien on CNN said, “I don’t believe that the federal government should be keeping these types of records on citizens.”

Now let’s take a look at what a citizen has to go through to potentially bypass the security lines (unless the TSA decides to randomly pull him or her out) when they want to fly on a commercial airplane. Here’s the write-up to apply for the Trusted Traveler or Pre-Check program:

Here are the basic steps for applying:

Before a traveler can apply for a Trusted Traveler program, they must first register for a CBP Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account.

Once registered in GOES, the traveler can move forward with the enrollment in one of the CBP eligible programs. The GOES system will provide a PASS ID number after the enrollment in a Trusted Traveler program.

Once a passenger has signed up for a Trusted Traveler program, he/she must provide their PASS ID number, associated with the Trusted Traveler account in the “Known Traveler Number” field when booking travel. The passenger’s Trusted Traveler information will be submitted along with reservation information to TSA’s Secure Flight system. Trusted Traveler program members should also remember to enter their full name, date of birth, and PASS ID exactly as it appears on their membership card.

And if they want to apply for a Global Entry card, not only do they have to prepay $100, but also fill out a form that, according to U.S. Customs and Border Control site, will take an average time of 40 minutes to complete. Information required includes passport info, driver’s license info, address history for the past five years, employment history for the past five years, and five years of travel history, along with information on any criminal convictions.

Talk about “keeping records”!

And we, the flying public, are not only meekly going along with this dissolving of our Constitutional safety net, but funding an incredible bureaucracy to do it. While we rant and rave about the national debt, Homeland Security, practically willy-nilly, spent billions of dollars equipping our airports with untested backscatter scanners, and now, just two years later, are junking them in favor of yet another expensive and ineffective form of scanner.

Is our so-called right to bear arms so much more important than our Constitutional right to privacy, to safety from unreasonable search and seizure? Why aren’t more people standing up and just saying “No”?

It’s time to stop this insanity. Please refuse to go through the scanners (contrary to recent news reports, they’re still in use). Please write to your representatives in Congress. No law-abiding, already-screened-through-the-terrorist-watchlist U.S. citizens should have to assume the position of surrender at the airport just to execute their right to fly. And yes, it is a right.

  • Bob

    Those who seek to change the Constitution on the basis that it is no longer relevant and no longer works, fail to understand that it is because we have failed to guard it and have allowed BS politicians to water it down with their crap laws.

  • Several enormous advantages that gun rights has over 4th Amendment rights:

    + Guns are tangible. I buy guns. 4th Amendment is mainly needed for other people. I’m not guilty why should I care?

    + My interaction with gun rights are probably less frequently used than my interaction with TSA. And more convenient to defend against, because dammit, me and the other 150 people need to get on that plane don’t slow me down!

    + Momentum vs. inertia. I get tons of support from friends and fellow afficionados when I fight for gun rights. But at the airport, everyone looks at me like I am responsible for their delay getting to the flight. It makes me standout.


    I’d like to suggest that this year as President Obama winds down the war in Afghanistan would be a terrific time to make President Obama address the need to also wind down the 4th Amendment intrusions.

    And somehow, I’d like to encourage you to invite ImprovEverywhere to help do so.

    In fact, think of their No Pants Subway Ride 2013, and ask them to do the same thing or similar for going through security at JFK.

    Even just a mass T-Shirt day, where you encourage people at specific airports to wear a T-Shirt with a message to President Obama to wind down TSA as they go through security.

    Or just have scanner avoidance applause day where groups of people near security or having passed through are encouraged to applaud whenever someone objects to the scanner.

    We have to do something to get people to act en masse and start the ball rolling.

    • RonBonner

      National Opt Out Day 2013. July 4, Independance Day

  • BRAVO Karen!! EXCELLENT ARTICLE!! (And yes, I am SHOUTING!). I have not only been very vocal on the issue of the 2nd amendment and gun rights, but I have also been very vocal on the issue of the TSA and our 4th amendment rights. Although I have refused to fly anymore than absolutely necessary, I have had the guts to say NO, to the TSA and their scanners and some of their other policies when I was required to fly. I have and will continue to shout from the roof tops. I just wished more people would join me.

  • Ron

    The right to bear arms is not so-called. Your point is very valid, but disputing the validity of the 2nd amendment, even implicitly, diminishes the power of your point a bit.

    • RB

      Part of the problem is those people willing to have some rights modified while asking others to support their beliefs on other rights issues. All rights are equally important. We cannot diminished some rights without weakening the whole Constitution. If people are against the right to bear arms then there is a built in mechanism to lawfully change the Constitution.

      Why no effort to put forth an amendment when that is the proper way to change our Constitution?

  • RB

    I for one think all of our rights are equally important. What we have today is government that apparently believes that we have no rights. It is a responsibility of all citizens to not accept the destruction of our rights and in turn our country by those in government. That means supporting preservation of rights that you may not fully agree with. I feel that the burden of government regulation is approaching the point of wide spread nonacceptance.

  • “Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual, and putting terror in every heart.”
    -Justice Robert H. Jackson, Nuremberg prosecutor, 1949

    “Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
    -Frederick Douglass, 1857

  • 1amWendy

    Brava, Karen!

  • frostysnowman

    This is a great post. Thank you!

  • Susan Richart

    Excellent piece. I said basically the same thing in a comment to an article on the Washington Post website yesterday, but my comment was no where close to this.