Just a Man
Branded With a Scarlet 'G': The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals takes aim at gun owners' civil rights.
The court actually typed this sentence: "The danger justifying a protective frisk arises from the combination of a forced police encounter and the presence of a weapon, not from any illegality of the weapon's possession" (emphasis added.) The implications were clear: Even lawful gun owners are by definition "dangerous" and can be broadly treated as such by the state.
In essence, the Fourth Circuit is declaring that gun owners lawfully exercising their constitutional rights are to be viewed with particular suspicion by law enforcement, regardless of any empirical evidence of danger.
The court is relegating lawful gun owners to second-class-citizen status. Even worse, it did so gratuitously. It could have analyzed Robinson's claims on the facts, asking whether the fact that he loaded his gun in a high-crime area and acted suspiciously after the stop justified the frisk (probably not, which is likely one reason why the majority reached for a new standard). Or it could have noted that in jurisdictions that require concealed-carry permits, when officers reasonably suspect that a person is armed, they can ask to see the citizen's carry permit and conduct a search if he can't produce it. Instead, however, it wrote a new law.