Is the 4th Amendment to the Bill of Rights All but Dead?

There used to be a time when a person was secure inside their own home. In recent times, that security has been eroded by those who have been entrusted with that very responsibility.

What exactly is printed in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights with regard to the 4th Amendment?

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.”

Firstly, You are to be protected against  “unreasonable” searches and seizures. Who determines what is “unreasonable?” Of course, that would be the judicial system. The days of absolute protection against warrantless searches are long past. Slowly, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), began carving out “exceptions” to Our Constitutional Rights. There is little significant case law for the Fourth Amendment before the 20th century. The amendment was held to apply to the individual states in the 1961 case, MAPP v OHIO.

In early SCOTUS decisions limited the Amendment’s scope to law enforcement’s physical intrusion onto private property. Then in 1967, in the case of  KATZ V UNITED STATES, the Court held that its protections, such as the warrant requirement, extend to the privacy of individuals as well as physical locations. Law enforcement officers would now need a warrant for most search and seizure activities. However, the Court has since defined a series of exceptions for consent searches, motor vehicle searches, the plain view doctrine, exigent circumstances, border searches, and other situations.

Slowly over time, Our Right under the Fourth Amendment is being taken apart piece-by-piece. But, today, by far the biggest threat to our Rights under the Fourth Amendment from our addiction to technology. In a story printed this week in USA TODAY, Americans are once again learning the Government, the State is again using technology with little to no disclosure to the American people. The Supreme Court in a 2001 case, stated that the 4th Amendment generally bars police from scanning the outside of a house with thermal imaging cameras unless they have a warrant, and SPECIFICALLY noted that the rule would apply to radar-based systems that were then being developed.

So, here we are today discovering that government “agents,” have been and will continue to use technology to intrude upon Our Rights regardless of what limits placed upon the use of said technology by judicial authorities and case law. They’re using “radar” devices that have the sensitivity to detect movement, through cement block and brick up to 50 feet. Some devices can detect the EXACT location of a person within a structure and even detect the movement of breathing! These technologies were developed for and used in war zones.

“Current and former federal officials say the information is critical for keeping officers safe if they need to storm buildings or rescue hostages. But privacy advocates and judges have nonetheless expressed concern about the circumstances in which law enforcement agencies may be using the radars — and the fact that they have so far done so without public scrutiny.

“The idea that the government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what’s inside is problematic,” said Christopher Soghoian, the American Civil Liberties Union’s principal technologist. “Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the intrusive tools that police have.” – USA TODAY

Recently, we learned that LOCAL police all over the country are using a technology called “STINGRAY.” This technology is used to monitor and track the cell phones of a suspect. There are a few problems with this tech. First, these police departments, in virtually every jurisdiction that utilizes STINGRAY, does NOT disclose this to the taxpayers who are footing the bill to purchase this equipment, and that those very same citizens Fourth Amendment Rights are being violated EVERY time they’re within range of these devices. Which brings us to the privacy issue. These devices DO NOT discriminate between your cell phone and those of the bad guys. So, without a warrant (in many cases), police use STINGRAY to capture voice AND data from not only the bad guy’s phone but yours as well because of your proximity to the device.

How about cell phone jamming devices? These devices block any and all cell phone signals within the range of the device’s power. Did you know that the mere possession of one of these devices by a private citizen is a FELONY under federal law? Even though anyone can purchase one from a myriad of sources off of the internet. However, did you know that our federal, state and local law enforcement have units that can block cell phone signals from short distances out to MILES? What are the rules for utilizing those devices? We don’t know. Authorities are somewhat “reluctant” to share whether or not they actually possess said devices.

I could go on-and-on about abuses of technology by the “state”. But, it is the job of EVERY citizen to know what is being used against them in their communities. Search all of the public records of your local, county and state governments with regards to the purchase of emergency and law enforcement equipment. Go to public meetings and ask the right questions and demand answers. To me, the greatest threats aren’t the purchase or the accepting from the federal government, m16 rifles and armored vehicles, it’s Big Brother that worry every citizen. The main threat is not the AR-15 rifle in the trunk of police cars.

About JAMES A SINGER Owner of That Gun Guy Gun Shop

Retired U.S. Army and former Federal and State Law Enforcement Officer. A self-described Constitutionalist. I have a B.S. in Criminal Justice as well as coursework in political science / Constitutional law.
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