How a little-known thing called, 1st Amendment Audits are a glaring reminder that we cannot give up ANY of our 2nd Amendment rights.
You are probably unaware, but there is a group of people out there, that are risking their lives to protect your Constitutional rights. No, I am not referring to Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs).
These people are frequently asked, “Don’t you have a real job?” Ironic, because these agents of the government asking them this, are not fulfilling the duties of their jobs as they should.
Police, Sheriffs, FBI, DHS, Military personnel, [those that are sworn to protect the local laws, the laws of the land and the nation] act unaware of the laws. The same agents of the government that are supposed to protect your Constitutional rights, instead, act like the Constitution does not even matter.
That is why 1st Amendment Auditors exist. They are asked, “Why are you here?”, “Don’t you have anything better to do?” 1A-Auditors are called idiots, stupid, losers and worse. By people that are hired with YOUR tax money. They are threatened with arrest. They are held at gunpoint. They are violated and physically attacked. They put themselves at risk of being killed. The reason they put up with these indignities, is to expose the erosion of our Constitutional Rights.
When 1A Auditors are out, doing their thing, it exposes the lack of consistent training, lack of knowledge of laws, and misunderstanding of the Constitution’s role in the interpretation of laws.
It is a waste of resources when police are deployed. A waste of public’s money when government employees stop working to confront auditors. A waste of the public’s tax money when these places are sued for breaking the law and denying a citizen their rights, and lose. Which they often do lose, having to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for violating a person’s rights, with unlawful detention, and sometimes illegal arrests.
There are those out there that would say, well maybe they should stop doing these audits if they are such a waste of taxpayers’ money. They are neglecting the most important aspect of this. It is already a waste of taxpayers’ money, if the people hired with their taxes to perform a duty, are unfamiliar with the laws. This is especially egregious when we are talking about (LEOs).
Most people are familiar with the 1st Amendment, as “Freedom of Speech”. However, a majority of people (including LEOs) are unaware of the full extent of the rights given to U.S. Citizens, in the 1st Amendment.
Two very important aspects of the 1A are: You have the right to capture any image that is in plain view. There is no expectation of privacy, if you are in a public area. This extends to, recording things on private land, which are visible from a public right of way, even if it is a secure military installation. Or a classified building housing a top-secret project. You can record the FBI, the DEA, the DHS, as long as you are on public land. Normal laws apply; you cannot hinder access, or the flow of traffic, or cause a nuisance or disturbance, etc. As long as you follow all other laws, you are free to record video or take pictures of anything you can see from a public area.
This was challenged in court as Musumeci v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Musumeci was arrested by a Federal Protective Service officer in November 2009 as he was videotaping a public plaza outside the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse in New York. Musumeci sued the Department of Homeland Security, the agency in control of Protective Service agents that guard federal buildings. In October 2010, Musumeci won and photographing of federal buildings was deemed legal.
Part of Musumeci’s settlement with DHS required them to remind all of its officers, via publication of policy, of the “public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal buildings from publicly accessible spaces.”
You should be aware of the 2-party consent laws, also known as wiretap laws, for the state you are in, before you attempt this. Eleven states in the U.S. make it illegal to record audio of a private conversation. It is best practice to avoid audio recordings in those states, even in public.
A number of these jurisdictions recognize that in public, recording the conversations of others does not fit the definitions of wiretapping, but that does not prevent you from being arrested by a LEO that is uniformed about the particular legal aspects of certain laws. It would also be a costly legal fight if you happen to record audio of a conversation that two or more people are having on private land, FROM public land, if they are not government workers.
That is the second important aspect of the 1A. You are allowed to record video AND audio of any public official, in commission of their public duties, regardless of 2-party consent laws. This specifically addresses the legalities of recording LEOs, as they question, detain and/or arrest a suspect, and ANY public official, such as employees of city owned Water Companies, Public works, Parks and Recreation, etc.
This lack of understanding of laws, the Constitution and court rulings is what makes a 1st Amendment Auditor’s job so dangerous. At the same time, it makes it necessary. While the majority of LEOs are good people, know their job and are levelheaded, as with any job, there are those that are dangerously deficient in knowledge of the rules and think that their badge and title allows them to bully the public. “Tyrants”.
They grapple with the 1A Auditor. Lay hands on them. Try to snatch their cameras out of their hands. And try to delete the videos and pictures. (Which is also against the law).
Tyrant videos are what make for good entertainment on YouTube. Obviously, an encounter with a LEO that knows all the aspects of local law and the Constitution would be quite boring, and short in length. While, it is refreshing to occasionally see a LEO approach a 1A Auditor and state that what they are doing is perfectly legal and leave them be, those are not the videos we learn from.
You know a video will be going south quickly, when the portly LEO, ambles up to the 1A Auditor and demands to see ID. Rarely is it just one LEO. Typically two show up, in two vehicles, to maximize the waste of taxpayer dollars.
The answer usually given when this demand is made is “NO.”
You know the officer is uneducated in the law at that point, when they get that blank look on their face that says… “YOU CANNOT SAY NO TO MY DEMANDS!”, “I AM THE LAW” (I hope you said this in Sylvester Stallone’s voice in your head),
The conversation continues with the LEO saying: “Why not?”
1AA – “What crime do you suspect me of committing?”
LEO – “I don’t know sir, it’s just suspicious circumstances”
1AA – “I’m not doing anything illegal”
LEO – “How do I know that?” Demands to see ID again.
The problem here is, not only is recording video LEGAL on public land (and thus, NOT a suspicious activity, per DHS)… the demand to see ID, is NOT LEGAL. In almost every state, unless Reasonable Articulable Suspicion a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed you are not required to identify yourself.
Be sure to clarify the “Stop and Identify” laws in your particular state before you attempt this. Also, be aware, in every state, if you are operating a vehicle, you MUST show a driver’s license.
In the court case Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) it was established that it is Constitutionally permissible for police to temporarily detain a person based on an articulable reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, and to conduct a patdown (a Terry Search) for weapons based on a reasonable belief that the person is armed.
Stop and identify” laws relate to detentions.
Police may question a person detained in a Terry stop, but in general, the detainee is not required to answer. However, states that have “stop and identify” laws require a person detained under the conditions of Terry to identify himself to police, and in some cases, provide additional information.
A detention requires only that police have reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in criminal activity. However, to make an arrest, an officer must have probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime. Some states require police to inform the person of the intent to make the arrest and the cause for the arrest.
In order to push the detention narrative, LEOs employ “weasel words” and phrases. Some of the ones I have heard often in 1A Audit videos:
“In our current environment”
“This environment that we live in”
“The times we live in”
“This day and age”
“The nature of events in the world”
“With all the events going on”
“You being evasive, kinda heightens things up a bit”
“After 9/11 we are in Heightened Alert”
“In this post-9/11 era.
It’s just 3 weeks shy of it being 18 years
since 9/11 and people STILL bring up 9/11!
“You gotta see it from our perspective”
“That really makes me nervous”
“Well, we’ve had problems before”
“It’s called a suspicious activity”
“What you are doing is suspicious”
“We had 4 officers killed, so YOU look suspicious”
“Every day I have to worry about terrorists and you could be one”
“With everything that’s going on right now…”
These weasel words are why 1A Audits are so important to people that own and carry firearms. If public officials so readily ignore the Constitution, when it relates to something as innocuous as Video Recording and the 1st Amendment, think about what happens when they encounter someone exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.
That is why, there are not only 1A Auditors, but there are also 2nd Amendment Auditors. You might be familiar with a recently famous one, Dmitriy Andreychenko and his 2A Audit of Walmart that EVERYONE failed. In a city where open carry is legal. In a store known for allowing open carry. And, AFTER CONTACTING THE STORE TO ASK IF IT WAS OK TO DO SO!
Dmitriy was arrested, all because of weasel words like those that I listed above. As much as everyone involved may disagree… just because a crime is committed in ANOTHER STATE, that crime does not take away ANYONE’S RIGHTS, in the rest of the United States. There is no, “In our current environment” law that says your rights are suspended for a certain amount of time, or indefinitely because of crime elsewhere. How could you even enforce that? Or prove that the person knew of the crime committed elsewhere?
They tried to pin hysteria and the fleeing of the shoppers of that Walmart on Andreychenko. While completely ignoring the Felony committed by the Manager of the store, when he pulled the Fire Alarm and announced falsely that there was a fire and for everyone to evacuate.
There was no panic and mass hysteria when Andreychenko traversed the Walmart. He had a shopping cart. His rifle was slung in low ready, but untouched. Nobody knew if either his rifle or sidearm were loaded, or ready to fire. There was no blood curdling screams at his sight. The panic only ensued when the Manager, broke the law.
Something, which Walmart lauded the manager for, “in acting quickly to prevent a potential shooting.”
Walmart called the incident “a reckless act designed to scare people, disrupt our business and it put our associates and customers at risk” and said Andreychenko is no longer welcomed in its stores.
Nobody talks about the ex-firefighter that illegally detained Andreychenko outside the back of the Walmart. How this person was THE ONLY CITIZEN TO BRANDISH A WEAPON. Bear that in mind. He was already OUTSIDE of the Walmart, in a city where you are allowed to open carry.
Is that ex-firefighter still welcome at Walmart after illegally brandishing a weapon on their property?
The news outlets emphatically stated: “A man clad in body armor and carrying “tactical weapons” was arrested Thursday after sparking mass panic at a Walmart in Missouri “
Sigh. IT WAS NOT BODY ARMOR! It was a vest. Just a vest! And tactical weapons? Really? Is a crossbow a tactical weapon as well? I mean, you need to have tactics to use one. The MSM is the true problem when it comes to the 2nd Amendment. They are the ones to stoke irrational fear in the public.
The police quickly arrived, probably quicker than normal, because “With all the events going on”. They arrested and charged Andreychenko with making a terroristic threat.
574.120. Making a terrorist threat, second degree — penalty. — 1. A person commits the offense of making a terrorist threat in the second degree if he or she recklessly disregards the risk of causing the evacuation, quarantine or closure of any portion of a building, inhabitable structure, place of assembly or facility of transportation and knowingly:
(1) Communicates an express or implied threat to cause an incident or condition involving danger to life; or
(2) Communicates a false report of an incident or condition involving danger to life; or
(3) Causes a false belief or fear that an incident has occurred or that a condition exists involving danger to life.
IANAL, but I do NOT see how that charge is going to fly. HE did not cause the evacuation. The store manager did. I can only imagine at this point the city’s lawyers are doing internal damage control. Dmitriy posted $10,000 bail the following Tuesday and was released from jail.
This case clearly highlights why we cannot have any more gun laws. The public and Law Enforcement are WOEFULLY ignorant of the ones currently in place. Open carry is open carry. There is NO interpretation to be made about OPEN CARRY. Any more laws and people will just get more confused and LEOs will end up killing people because they are not knowledgeable, updated on their education and misinterpret the new laws.
Any more new Red flag laws are a bad idea as well. Obviously, Dmitriy would have his guns taken away with Red Flag laws. The potential for abuse under RF laws is just too great. If a corporation such as Google can call disingenuously call in a Welfare check on one of their employees and have a battalion of police, FBI, SWAT and a bomb squad show up, what is there to stop anyone else from doing the same, and have someone’s guns taken away. Then that person shows up at their residence the next day to rob or murder them after being disarmed.
I have to admit, after Dmitriy did the 2A Audit, I considered doing the same thing. I too live in an Open Carry state. PLUS, I have my concealed carry license. I imagine, if he gets a good lawyer, he will get a substantial payout from potentially Walmart, AND the city of Springfield, MO. The thoughts of doing a similar 2A Audit were brief and I decided against it, as the wise words repeated by my dad echoed in my head, “Son, you might be right, but could also be dead right.”
The Second Amendment states that gun ownership is an unalienable god given right. That makes EVERY gun law that restricts ownership in any way, an infringement
SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED
More 2nd Amendment News:
- How many “Mass Shootings” have occurred this year?
- Studies Find No Evidence That Assault Weapon Bans Reduce Homicide Rates
- Get Ready! Here is Their Plan to Take Your Guns
- They know where you sleep — “Through-wall” radar
About the Author:
DarkStar (obvious pseudonym) has been an active humanitarian for the past decade, running a charity dedicated to helping the mentally challenged overcome life obstacles.
DarkStar left the corporate digital world working for Google and Chicago Tribune to seek more philanthropic pursuits, after becoming tired of helping the “elites” become richer while people were suffering.
With a degree in Computer Engineering and a background in Physics, DarkStar created and patented an Artificial Intelligence to take the place of mental health professionals and services, to help the mentally ill navigate their daily life.
An avid inventor, DarkStar hopes someday to connect with a similarly minded Angel Investor to create a company that can expand to help many more people around the world.
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