Update on Virginia’s GPS tracking bills

It looks like the Senate version of the GPS Tracking bill I posted about previously has passed the Senate with the House’s changes intact. It’s now waiting on the governor to sign before it becomes law. The bill was written as an “emergency” bill, so it will take effect immediately upon signing, rather than waiting until July like most new laws.

They were wrong, you know. Freedom doesn’t die with a bang, or a whimper, or even thunderous applause. It is slowly eaten away by parasites, a little bit at a time, until one day you realize it’s a wasted shell that died in its sleep.

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Quote of the Day – 2012-03-15

From Robb:

[N]obody seems to listen to those of us who constantly harp on why limiting government is so important. [...] You want to stop the government from doing things you don’t like, stop giving them the power to do it. [...] Because each time you tell a misrepresentative that yes, you would like them to be able to control the other side, eventually that other side gets their turn on The Levers of Making You Do Shit.

Exactly. If you want to mandate that the non-promiscuous must provide free birth control to the people who can’t keep it in their pants or can’t stop spreading their legs at the drop of a hat, don’t be surprised if, when it’s their turn at the reins of power, they mandate that everybody must wear a chastity belt and the government gets to control access to the keys (in order to keep costs down, of course). If you mandate that the government must provide “free” health care to everyone, don’t be surprised when the other side uses that to say you can’t drink coffee or smoke weed because the effects on your health make providing that “free” health care cost more. If you open the door, don’t be surprised when the person next to you steps through it.

In other words, as many of us have been saying for years, consider every proposed law as if it will be enforced by your worst enemy – because eventually it will be.

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UPDATED: URGENT! Frightening bills to allow secret GPS tracking in Virgina!

Update 2012-03-07: The Senate bill as been passed out of committee in the House, with a change. The House change does not actually alter the effect of the bill in any noticeable way. If it passes the full House, I believe it will have to go back to the Senate for the change to be approved (very likely to happen). Then it will go to the governor to be signed. Since it was the governor who asked for this, there is little to no chance he won’t sign it.

Like I said before, I think we’re buggered.

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Update 4: The senate version has passed, unanimously. It looks like the House version has not but is still in play, but the House has adjourned for the day. Unless the House rejects both versions, it looks like this will become Virginia law within the next day or so.

Considering that the House version passed out of committee on a unanimous vote, I think we’re buggered.

—–

Update 2: I should have done this from the start, but I’d like to ask anyone who reads this and has a blog to help spread the word. If we can get enough Virginians contacting their representatives before these bills come up for a vote, maybe we can kill them by a significant margin. The governor is the one who requested the measure, so if either bill passes both houses there is little doubt that he will sign. There is an “emergency” provision in each bill that specifically states it becomes effective immediately, rather than July 1 like most bills.

I’ve also emailed a few other bloggers to help. SayUncle already has a post up, and Jay G. has said he’ll get one up this afternoon. Thanks!

Update 3: Add Weer’d Beard to the list, too. Thanks!

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One of the tools of tyrants is secret warrants.

Two bills recently introduced by Gov. Bob McDonnell would permanently seal search warrants issued to use a tracking device to follow a suspect.

Such warrants would be unsealed only at the request of a prosecutor or defendant. Typically, most search warrants become public record 15 days or less after being granted by a judge.

I can see the necessity, on occasion, of sealing a search warrant during the course of an investigation. As far as I know (though I could be wrong), there is a process in place for doing so that requires the investigators to go in front of a judge and explain why it needs to be sealed, and for how long.

But that is the point: there must be a valid reason, such as the likelihood that public knowledge of the warrant would compromise the investigation or place investigators at great risk. It is not automatic.

There may be times, rare though they would be, that there would be reason to seal a search warrant beyond the end of the trial. But there can be absolutely no valid reason in a free society that any search warrant should be sealed permanently, and a government that pushes for such warrants to be sealed automatically is especially chilling. Search warrants, and the affidavits supporting them, are records that the citizens of a nation can use to monitor the behaviour of their government, and must have access to in order to do so adequately. As just one example, look at the search warrant affidavit in the killing of Jose Guerena. The inadequacies of that affidavit, and the results of the ‘botched’ search, are signs of a legal system out of control – one that the citizens of Arizona must act to bring back under control.

There’s also a disturbing First Amendment issue.

The bills also stipulate that a newspaper reporter or Internet blogger who publishes the existence of a search warrant related to tracking devices could be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, and could spend up to a year in jail.

Just as there can sometimes be valid reasons to keep a warrant sealed during an investigation, there can sometimes be valid reasons to keep the very existence of the warrant secret at the same time, and often for the same reasons. But keeping the existence of the warrant secret permanently is even worse than keeping the contents secret – citizens cannot question a warrant when they do not even know it exists. These bills would punish someone who legally obtained knowledge of the warrant – say a roommate or family member who accepts service for the subject, or a neighbor who sees it posted on the subject’s door – if they reveal even its existence to anyone other than the person who was the subject of the warrant.

You can find the Senate version here, and the House version here.

I have already contacted both my Delegate and Senator. If you live in Virginia, I urge you to do the same. If you’re not sure who your representatives are, you can find out here.

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Update: Roanoke Times editorial and discussion can be found here.

[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 3/2/12]

Quote of the Week

From Tam.

I’d rather my neighbors smoked a bong every day than run the risk of a dyslexic SWAT team taking a battering ram to my front door at oh-dark-thirty. We need to stop burning the village to save it.

It stands on its own, without commentary. But you should go read the whole thing anyway, because Tam is just that good.

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Oops! Not a good career move.

I bet these guys don’t want to meet their bosses anytime soon!

 

As Air Force One sat on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport this morning, the North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled two F-16 fighter jets to intercept a small private plane that had invaded the airspace.

[...]

Agents interviewed the pilots before they were turned over to the Long Beach Police Department and arrested, an official said.

“We determined the incursion of restricted airspace was of no protective interest,” said Leary. In other words, no intended threat to the president.

But the pilot was in possession of narcotics, the Secret Service said.

One law enforcement source told ABC the plane was carrying 40 pounds of marijuana.

NOTAMs, which are announcements to civil aviators about things like airspaces that are temporarily restricted because, for instance, the President is there, are publicly available on the internet. It’s considered a basic part of flight planning to check for any relevant notices along the planned route, even if you’re not going to file a flight plan. Failure to do so can result in being intercepted by F-16 fighters and ordered to land under threat of death, having your load of contraband found, and being arrested for drug smuggling.

It would be especially important to check these notices when smuggling drugs. Something tells me it wouldn’t be very healthy for them to explain their error to their employers.

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[Source: ABC News article on Yahoo! News, retrieved 2/17/12]

Ignore Fast & Furious

because Mike Vanderboegh ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, etc.

So says Mother Jones.

Good grief.

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(h/t SayUncle)

Who gets involved in a shooting in a parking lot?

So it seems there was a shooting early Sunday morning in Roanoke.

Three men suffered gunshot wounds Sunday in an apparent early morning downtown parking lot scuffle, according to Roanoke police.

No arrests have been made, and the incident is under investigation.

Police converged on the first block of Salem Avenue about 3:15 a.m. after an officer in the area heard multiple shots fired, according to a news release. Officers located physical evidence of the shootings but no victims at the scene.

I’m going to steal a trick from Sean Sorrentino for a moment (and add him to the blog roll – I’m not sure how I missed that), and take a look at the people involved in this story, and what the newspapers aren’t telling you. Unlike Sean, though, I will use their names, because I want you to be able to verify the information I present from what I post here, and unlike the system Sean uses in North Carolina, Virginia’s Courts Information System isn’t set up to allow direct linking to a person’s record.

To verify everything here, go to the Virginia Courts Information System, select “Case Status and Information” and “Circuit Courts” from the menus on the left, select “Roanoke City” from the drop down menu, and enter the names in the form field last name first.

Victim 1 – Dominque Antonio Garrison, 27: Mr. Garrison has a full page by himself. He has a history going back to 1999 (when he would have been 15!), with convictions for attempted robbery, domestic assault, violating a protective order, cocaine possession, and malicious wounding. Now, it is possible that some of these are by another person with the same name, but I think it’s highly unlikely since the middle name matches as well, and a random sampling shows the same day and month of birth for cases from ’99 and 2010.

Victim 2 – Andre Clay Edwards, 28: Mr. Clay has a history going back to 2003, with convictions for cocaine possession, cocaine distribution, and felony eluding police. There’s also a nolle pros’d charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which hints at a previous felony history outside Roanoke City.

Victim 3 – Darrius Domonik Arrington, 18: Mr. Arrington does not show up in either Roanoke City or Roanoke County. This means that either he has a clean record so far, or that any history he has was in the juvenile court. Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court records are not publicly available, so I will assume he has no criminal history (yet – current events do not bode well for his future in that respect).

Notice the common thread in this grouping? It would not be a stretch to suggest that this “scuffle” probably had something to do with the purchase of unlicensed pharmaceuticals.

Involvement in illegal drugs, or involvement with people who are involved with illegal drugs, is not conducive to a safe and healthy life.

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[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 11/28/11]

Fourth Amendment? What Fourth Amendment?

Cemetery, of Cemetery’s Gun Blob*, recently had his car searched by the police based on a police dog “alerting” to a scent.

Bring on the dog then I said, was told ok, but if the dog gets to happy, it’s too bad about any potential damage.

Nice right? Do what we want or your car gets trashed basically.

Out comes the dog, a male German Shepard, who don’t give two shits about my car. And anybody with a brain could tell he was just happy to get some fresh air and chase some squirrels.

So of course the LEO says the dog likes my car, and now comes the fun.

They didn’t give two shits about the guns, they just wanted to search for narcotics.

This reminded me of a damning article I found a couple of months ago regarding drug dogs giving false positives.

The results? Dog/handler teams correctly completed a search with no alerts in just 21 of the 144 walk-throughs. The other 123 searches produced an astounding 225 alerts, every one of them false. Even more interesting, [the search points designed to trick the handlers (marked by the red slips of paper) ]were about twice as likely to trigger false alerts as the search points designed to trick the dogs (by luring them with sausages).

emphasis mine – Jake

That study got false positives in 84% of the searches. What makes this truly disturbing is that the use of drug dogs to get probable cause for a warrantless search has become routine across the country, and the courts in most states have ruled that this is acceptable. We can see from the results of this study that the dogs are picking up on the handler’s expectations or desires and giving false alerts

In other words, the dogs are not reliable for what they are being used for, and a dog’s alert should not be sufficient on its own to constitute probable cause for a search. This practice needs to be ended, now.

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[Source: Post at Cemetery's Gun Blob, retrieved 11/3/11]
[Source: Article from The Economist, published 2/15/11, retrieved 11/3/11]

(h/t Weer’d Beard)

*Added to the blogroll as of today.

Guerena family sues Pima County

Jose Guerena’s family has filed a lawsuit against Pima County for the raid that resulted in his death.

Jose Guerena, a 26-year-old Marine and Iraq war veteran, was killed May 5 when a SWAT team broke into his home a little after 9:30 a.m. According to Guerena’s wife, Vanessa (who was home at he time, along with their 4-year-old son), Guerena thought the police were home invaders. He ushered his family into a closet, then grabbed a rifle. When the police battered down the door, they saw Guerena and his rifle, and opened fire. The SWAT team released 70 rounds. Guerena didn’t fire a shot; the safety of his rifle was still on.

Last week, Arizona attorney Chris Scileppi filed notice of a $20 million lawsuit against Pima County, Ariz., on behalf of Guerena’s family. The lawsuit provides a good opportunity to look back at what has happened since since the morning of May 5.

The linked article gives a good summary of the whole thing, and links to several other good criticisms of the raid. I’ve linked to my posts on this (one of which has video of the raid) above.

I hope the family gets something resembling justice in this. His death was nothing short of state-sanctioned murder.

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[Source: Huffington Post article, retrieved 8/19/11]

(h/t Sipsey Street Irregulars)

Obama’s DoJ institutes long-gun reporting requirement

Story by David Codrea.

To address the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico, ATF will send an information request to Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) in the four Southwest Border states:  Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The point of this request is to provide a targeted approach to address the problem of illegal gun trafficking through sales to “straw purchasers,” people who claim to be the true buyers of firearms but in reality are purchasing firearms on behalf of others.

ATF will tailor the information request to address the specific threat.  It applies only to firearms dealers in the four border states, and its prospective reporting requirements apply only if a firearms dealer sells within five business days to a single individual two or more long guns having all of the following characteristics:

  • Semi-automatic action;
  • A caliber greater than .22, including .223 caliber firearms;
  • and The ability to accept a detachable magazine.

Previous posts and articles I have read on this “request” indicated that it is very probably illegal – that the reporting requirements are specifically limited by statute to handguns, and only Congress can extend such requirements to long guns, and only by passing an amendment to current law that gets signed by the President.

David Codrea and Mike Vanderbough seem to be the ones on the front line of this one, just as they have been with Operation Fast and Furious. Go check with them for the most recent information.

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[Source: National Gun Rights Examiner article, retrieved 7/11/11]

(h/t Mike Vanderbough at Sipsey Street Irregulars)

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