Stop-and-frisk as a variant of gun control?

by Walter Olson on August 26, 2013

Operationally, it may function that way, if Barton Hinkle’s analysis is right. That would at least explain why Mayor Bloomberg would feel confident about his consistency in favoring both, though it leaves unexplained why the left-right polarities in so many other quarters should reverse so sharply between the one issue and the other.

{ 5 comments }

1 William Nuesslein 08.26.13 at 8:28 am

We can only wish that the thrill shooters of Chris Lane in Oklahoma had been stopped and frisked.

2 Shtetl G 08.26.13 at 11:43 am

William Nuesslein 08.26.13 at 8:28 am

We can only wish that the thrill shooters of Chris Lane in Oklahoma had been stopped and frisked.

Well I’m convinced. Fourth amendment concerns be damned. If it could save one life is pretty much the mantra of this site anyway.

Seriously, I find the idea that cops can stop and frisk any one with out any more probable cause than being in the wrong neighborhood quite creepy. If we instituted the policy nationwide it would certainly save more lives but why stop there? Perhaps we need a program where we can read everyone’s email. Who knows how many lives we could save? If you have not committed any crimes you have nothing to fear. Its not like cops or prosecutors ever get corrupted and besides they are known for policing there own.

I wonder when I stopped being such a law and order conservative. Probably when I started visiting this site and Radley Balko’s site regularly.

3 Fubar 08.26.13 at 2:01 pm

We can only wish that the thrill shooters of Chris Lane in Oklahoma had been stopped and frisked.

For that hypothetical to have prevented the murder, the stopping and frisking would have had to happen at exactly the right time and place. Even the most ardent “stop and frisk” supporters don’t believe that police can be everywhere all the time.

In news reports I’ve read, at least one of Lane’s killers had prior run-ins with the law, and had some kind of current probation issue with the courts. So perhaps we should wish that he had been incarcerated for his previous crimes instead of being at large. That would obviate any hypothetical “stop and frisk”.

Hinkle got it right in the Reason article.

4 Richard Nieporent 08.26.13 at 2:40 pm

Well I’m convinced. Fourth amendment concerns be damned. If it could save one life is pretty much the mantra of this site anyway.

Shtetl G, you clearly haven’t been on this site too often. Don’t confuse comments made by Ron Miller as being the normal opinion of this website.

I wonder when I stopped being such a law and order conservative. Probably when I started visiting this site and Radley Balko’s site regularly.

What makes you think “law and order conservatives” don’t believe in the Bill of Rights? If anything they should be more vehement in their opposition to Government intrusion in our lives.

5 Hugo S. Cunningham 08.26.13 at 9:29 pm

Statistics show that NYC is the safest large city in the country, many times safer than Chicago, even though they both have strict gun bans.

An old NRA chestnut, hated by the gun-prohibitionists because it is so often true, runs,
“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
Backed by two pro-police mayors, the NYPD has taken that as a challenge. Outlaws may have guns in NYC, but they leave them at home, because the chances of getting caught by “stop and frisk” are high, and so are the penalties. A contract killer determined to kill somebody can still do it, but gun crimes of opportunity have fallen drastically. Similarly, people with outstanding arrest warrants keep a much lower profile in NYC than they would in Chicago.

Barton Hinkle drew a strange distinction between wicked “stop and frisk” and virtuous “broken windows.” They have, however, been closely intertwined. Enforcement of minor, nit-picky laws has provided a Constitutional pretext for policemen to accost people, search them for guns and check for outstanding arrest warrants. Unfortunately, such enforcement infuriates the target, expecially if he spends time in jail or pays substantial legal fees to get the charge dismissed. I have no sympathy with turnstile-jumpers or window-breakers, but identify with jaywalkers and pot-smokers.

In my ideal world, Congress could, at the request of *all* of the following:
NY Governor
NY legislature
NYC mayor
NYC city council
invoke limited war powers to allow NYPD to stop-and-frisk suspected gun-carriers *without* the aggravating pretense of “broken windows.”

The NYPD could set up a program of “trusted walkers,” people willing to be identified by IFF technology, whom the police would confront as little as possible, and who would be exempted from most “broken windows” charges. An additional ID would mark authorized gun carriers, to save cops the need to accost them. The life-saving effects of stop-and-frisk could be achieved with much less aggravation.

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