Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has asked residents of his city to keep an eye on neighbors and family members after Larry Steven McQuilliams went on a shooting spree through the Texas Capitol last week.

McQuilliams, who held some extreme views and was reportedly targeting as many as 30 people, has been described by local police as a "homegrown extremist."

In response to the shooting Acevedo has called on the Austin community to keep a watchful eye on people they know and to report any suspicious behavior to the police so that individuals, especially gun owners, can be vetted.

There are assuredly dangerous individuals in our society who have no qualms about killing innocent people, but could Acevedo's request to citizens to say something if they see something be opening a Pandora's box of government surveillance?

Let me tell you what keeps me up at night. It's these guys. It's these homegrown extremists that are lone wolfs, that are mad at the world, that are angry… That's why it's important for us as Americans to know our neighbors, to know our families.

Tell somebody.

If you know somebody that's acting with a lot of hatred towards any particular group… especially if you know that somebody's a gun enthusiast or is armed with these types of firearms and they're showing any type of propensity for hatred… it doesn't mean we're going to go in and take them to jail… But we might want to vet these people.

 

Within the context of the Chief's call to action it's difficult to argue with reporting to police an individual who poses a danger to others around them – especially if the individual is fueled by rage and hate, has weapons in their possession and has made claims that they intend to injure or kill others.

But where is the line? If you give them an inch they will no doubt take a mile.

In California, Governor Jerry Brown has already signed a bill that gives police the authority to "vet" individuals and seize their firearms if a family member reports that they may be mentally unstable. No proof of the allegation is necessary.

And the Veterans Administration is feverishly working to ensure that any veteran who has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or even fails to pay their personal bills on time loses access to their right to bear arms.

So, while the actions of Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo are commendable and seemingly geared for protecting the general population, could this trend of seeing something and saying something lead to a complete breakdown of Constitutional protections?

As noted above, the government has already found loopholes, legal or not, that they say give them the authority to seize firearms from individuals who have been convicted of doing absolutely nothing. Moreover, law enforcement agencies have already stripped the Fourth Amendment, as evidenced by the almost daily reports of peoples' doors being kicked and their homes searched without any sort of probable cause or on fabricated charges.

Are the police and other surveillance agencies going through a door that, once opened, can never be shut again? Are we creating a society where it's patriotic to snitch on one's neighbors? Could it potentially lead to what we've seen throughout history where even the innocent get "vetted" and detained for no other reason than having upset someone for a totally innocuous reason?

With over 1 million Americans now on No-Fly and Other Terror-related Watch Lists it should be clear that the "vetting" process is already in full swing.

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