Mailvox: word games

BG writes of the Oshkosh gun seizures:

My friend BW doubted the story and tells me he called the assistant editor. This is what emailed me.

“This is the story reported on the news of the shooting and gun confiscating. It appears two search warrants were issued and the rest consented to the searches. The guns were returned to the citizens after ballistic test were performed to compare to the bullet when found. This I got from the city assistant editor of the Northwestern newpaper, yes I called and talked to her. The story was on the front page, but not the lead story. According to the police department, news channel and newspaper, the wisconsin gun owners assc. used this incident to boost membership and contributions. Looking at their play on words I would tend to agree. ”

Why wouldn’t the WGO use the incident to boost membership? The actions of the police department were outrageous and make very clear why the WGO is needed. The only play on words being performed here is by BW, who confuses a consent to a SEARCH with a consent to a SEIZURE. This is why the Constitution bans illegal searches AND seizures; if the two were identical, only illegal searches would need be banned. The two actions are completely different. When a policeman asks to search your car and you consent, you are not granting him permission to take your girlfriend’s purse or to remove the spare tire from the trunk.

The newspaper itself wrote: He [Police captain Jay Puestohl] acknowledged consent to search does “not necessarily” mean officers have consent to remove property. Puestohl also said nothing illegal was done by removing the firearms and that investigators needed to examine them. He declined to say on what grounds officers had the right to remove the firearms, though.

Puestohl’s wrong, of course, and it would have been more accurate for him to say “not” instead of “not necessarily”. It’s good that the police apparently had the good sense to eventually return the gun owners’ property – which is not reported in the original article, by the way – but just as a bank robber is still prosecuted even if he returns the money he stole, the policemen responsible should be prosecuted for theft.