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Sacrificing the 4th Amendment on the Altar of Popular Opinion

The Assembly Judiciary Committee has voted to send to the floor Senate Bill 243, the Guilty-Until-Proven-Innocent bill.

What this bill allows the government to do is take a sample of your DNA upon any arrest for an alleged felony offense. That’s ARREST, not conviction. In other words, a gross infringement upon your Fourth Amendment rights.

Disappointingly not one Republican had the cojones to vote against this feel-good/slippery-slope bill in committee. On the other hand, kudos to the max to two Democrats who had the stones to defend your Fourth Amendment rights: Assemblyman James Ohrenschall (my Assemblyman!) and Assemblyman Richard Carrillo.

In explaining his vote to apply a little white-out (ask your mom) to the U.S. Constitution, columnist Steve Sebelius writes that Republican Assemblyman Wes Duncan (R-Las Vegas) “said the federal government and other states take DNA from people arrested prior to conviction,” so why shouldn’t we?

Ah, the ol’ “everybody else is doing it” defense…which worked so well for us as children, didn’t it?

Indeed, if the federal government and other states decided to make it illegal to gamble, then Nevada should make it illegal to gamble, too?

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Duncan also “said the proposal would help capture criminals.”

Then again, so would warrantless searches. For that matter, how about embedded tracking chips on anyone who’s ever had a criminal THOUGHT? I mean, if that wouldn’t help capture criminals, I don’t know what would!

For his part, Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) said, “I think the felony [arrest] standard is reasonable.”

Really? First question: For how long?

In other words, how long will it be before these people come back and demand a DNA sample from anyone arrested on a misdemeanor? And then for traffic tickets? And if you don’t think that’s where we’re heading here, you’re nuts.

But consider this, as well. What constitutes a felony these days?

The feel-gooders would have you believe that the only people who will have their rights violated in this manner are rapists and murderers and drug dealers. But the sad truth is that legislators for years have been turning more and more misdemeanor infractions into felonies in our slow-but-sure transition to a true police state. An example…

Two years ago, former Democrat Assemblyman “Moose” Arberry was charged with six felony counts relating to…not murder…not rape…not drug dealing…but failing to properly report campaign donations.

“Swab, please, Mr. Moose!”

And for the record, all six of the felony accusations against Mr. Arberry were ultimately reduced to a misdemeanor; however, had this DNA law been on the books back then…too bad. Arberry’s Fourth Amendment rights would have already vanished.

But what the heck? Everybody else is doing, right? And surely no one can argue against the reasonableness of forcing a DNA sample from someone who cooked his campaign books, right?

The only thing missing from these arguments are the ol’ “if one life can be saved” and the “if you have nothing to hide” arguments. Then again, the session isn’t over yet and the full Assembly still has to vote on the bill.

Here’s one last tidbit to consider…

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted with Committee Chairman Jason Frierson, the man who lied through his teeth and single-handedly killed the campus carry bill a couple weeks ago despite the fact that the votes were there on the committee to move the bill forward.

Why is this relevant? Here’s why…

The #1 reason given for forcing people who have been arrested to cough up a DNA sample is the family members of Brianna Dennison. In fact, the bill is being called Brianna’s law.

Dennison was raped and murdered in 2008 by a scumbag piece of human garbage named James Biella (who should die a very painful and public death), and Biella had a previous felony arrest. So, as the argument goes, the rape and murder could have possibly been prevented if the DNA law had been in effect back then.

But wait. There’s more to the story…

Before raping and murdering Dennison, Biella attacked and raped another young woman, Amanda Collins, in the parking garage at the University of Nevada Reno. Collins, you may recall, was licensed to carry a concealed weapon but was disarmed by state legislators who prohibited her from carrying it on the college campus.

So to follow the logic of the DNA law’s proponents, had the campus carry law been on the books at the time, perhaps Collins would have shot Biella’s testicles clean off with her .44 Magnum (or whatever heat she would have been packing) and Brianna would be alive today.

Yet Frierson deep-sixed the potentially life-saving campus carry bill which was supported by the four Republican co-sponsors on his committee…only to find himself rewarded by chalking up their bi-partisan support for a bill to eviscerate the Fourth Amendment.

And the beat goes on…

Folks, I know this is a feel-good bill that the public generally supports from a purely emotional point of view. However, legislators take an oath to defend the Constitution, not vote whatever way the winds of popular sentiment are blowing.

Again, bravo to Assemblymen Ohrenschall and Carrillo for have the strength of their conviction on this one despite the political risk.