ACLU Helps Man Recover Handguns From Police Custody

Posted by | July 21, 2010 14:04 | Filed under: Top Stories

By JT Orlando

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the organization conservatives love to hate, never has been a “liberal” group per sé; it just so happens that the typical incursions on the rights of Americans (e.g. restrictions on free speech, violations of the separation of church and state, open and invidious discrimination, etc.) occur because of governmental policies that conservatives (and, usually, Republicans) wholeheartedly support.

So when the ACLU steps in to protect a gun owner’s rights to his weapons, that’s bound to confuse any right-wing types who actually may be paying attention. Robert Weinstein (pictured) got his pistols back after a hearing Wednesday morning in Broward Circuit Court.

On Monday, at a hearing Weinstein, 85, did not attend, Broward Circuit Judge Dale Ross signaled which way he was leaning. Ross questioned Mila Schwartzreich, the lawyer representing the Broward Sheriff’s Office, about the weapons seizure.

“Just as a kind of a query, what legal authority does the sheriff or anybody have to walk in to someone’s home and take property?” Ross said. “Don’t we call that, in the business, stealing?”

Schwartzreich said state statute allowed the taking of property when there is a breach of the peace, which Ross again questioned.

“Breach of the peace was when Mr. Weinstein threatened suicide,” Schwartzreich said.

Ross did not seem satisfied.

“What happens is Mr. Policeman shows up at your house and routinely confiscates property,” Ross said. He called the sheriff’s deputies’ actions “well intended,” but added: “You don’t really have authority to take them. And now, lo and behold, they won’t give ’em back.”


Barry Butin, on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, represented Weinstein for free.

Weinstein said he turned to the ACLU for help when he thought his civil rights had been violated. An ACLU spokesman said he believes this is the first time in the organization’s 90-year history that it has helped a gun owner retrieve his weapons from law enforcement.

That popping sound you hear is wingnuts’ heads exploding.  “B-b-but we hate the ACLU! And yet they gave back this guy’s guns!”  The cognitive dissonance must be overwhelming (assuming, of course, that actual cognition is taking place).

The next time you hear some conservative pol or pundit bad-mouth the ACLU, you might remind them that the organization exists to protect rights of all Americans — not just those of us dirty hippie moonbats.  And whether like me you think firearms should be far more stringently regulated than they are, or like this candidate for office you think offering campaign donors the chance to fire an AK-47 is just fine, or if you fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, the “L” in “ACLU” still stands for liberties, not liberal.

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