Supremes Rule 9-0 Against RI Gun Grab


It is rare to see the Supreme Court unanimously rule on anything, but especially something having to do with firearms. But that’s just what happened in May when the SCOTUS overturned a 1st Circuit Court ruling in Caniglia v. Strom. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously (9-0) that police illegally seized a Rhode Island man’s firearms in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

Background: In 2015, Edward A. Caniglia (“Caniglia”) was at home with his wife, Kim Caniglia (“Mrs. Caniglia”), at their residence in Cranston, Rhode Island. Caniglia had an argument with Mrs. Caniglia that led to him offering her one of his unloaded guns in an appeal to “put him out of his misery.” She declined, but then Mrs. Caniglia left Caniglia to sleep in a nearby hotel overnight. When Mrs. Caniglia returned, she called the police, requesting to have her husband undergo a wellness check. Caniglia agreed to undergo the psychiatric evaluation — but only after the officers agreed they would not take his guns. However, the Cranston police deceived Caniglia.

The police would take Edward Caniglia’s guns while he was away and even lied to Mrs. Caniglia, claiming that Caniglia himself had consented to the confiscation. Caniglia would be released from the hospital almost immediately because there was nothing wrong with him other than, perhaps, having a vexatious wife. But his firearms were already gone, and he had to file a civil rights lawsuit against the department to get them back.

Both a federal court and the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals stated the police were well within their rights to take Caniglia’s guns under a 1973 “community caretaking exception,” which was established in the Cady v. Dombrowski case. In Cady, an officer was allowed to take a gun out of an impounded car without a warrant under the police’s “community caretaking” power.

This was a Fourth Amendment case, not a Second Amendment case, but having firearms involved is still important. The police didn’t lie to the Caniglias so the cops could seize Caniglia’s cupcakes, or a sofa, or lawn equipment. Had this decision stood, it would have been possible that the “community caretaking” excuse would be used against law-abiding gun owners who loudly and publicly express unpopular political opinions — such as “shall not be infringed,” for example.

Another example: Justice Samuel Alito noted in a concurring opinion that some of the principles of Caniglia’s case could apply to rulings on red-flag laws, which allow police to seize guns owned by individuals deemed dangerous to themselves or others. “Provisions of red flag laws may be challenged under the Fourth Amendment, and those cases may come before us. Our decision today does not address those issues,” he wrote.

Bustin’ Clays & Cookin’ Game with Old Boots & Bacon Grease II is a book by former Gun Tests Contributing Editor Ralph Winingham [aka Old Boots] that masterfully melds together the worlds of wingshooting and outdoor cooking. Bustin’ Clays, designed by Gun Tests Managing Editor Tracey Taylor, offers a collection of fun, easy and informative suggestions on how to handle a variety of clay targets and wild game — featuring outdoor recipes for all types of tasty dishes — gathered during more than four decades of observing and picking the brains of a multitude of top shots and camp chef culinary artists. To order, contact the author at or check out his website at


  1. Thanks for keeping us all updated. I stopped watching the new on Election night so I missed this one. I worked for a federal agency who was directed by Obama to turn over the records of all people with representative payees, claiming if they need a payee, they couldn’t control their own affairs and should not have a firearm. To my great amazement, that federal agency, who has been praised for maintaining the privacy of their data for 70 years, dragged their feet until Obama’s directive died. This type on intrusion can happen anywhere and go unexamined with a compliant Press. Thanks again.

  2. I’m a subscriber to Gun Tests and was pleased to read the article by Todd Woodard
    And the comment by another Quinlan.

  3. Red flag laws will be abused and there will be plenty of numb skull law enforcement officers that will confiscate weapons based on heresay.Sad but true. So now an ex girlfriend can just sic cops on you with false claims that you are a danger because she is mad at you. Or an anti gunner that saw you come home from the range or hunting. I suppose it’s inevitable.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here