A guy in Massachusetts responded to Rep. Gifford’s being shot with a snide remark to the effect that that left 534 to go — something many people have said or heard in private conversation, and it probably isn’t unheard of on the Internet, though I haven’t seen any myself. Ho, hum, right?

Except that Travis J. I. Corcoran is a gun dealer owner, and Massachusetts and Fed cops descended on his store him, confiscated his stock guns, and got his ISP to “403 Forbidden” his Web site. Dustbury , Roberta X, and others around the blogosphere have taken notice, with the gun blogs in the lead (as might be expected), and it’s getting a little attention from the MSM.

Borepatch notes, inter alia:

It’s not like there isn’t a ton of case law on how the First Amendment applies to threats of political violence. Arlington will lose this, if it ever gets to trial. Post Heller and McDonald, they’ll lose even worse. Idiots.

The problem is — no, they won’t. Oh, I reckon Massachusetts and the Feds will lose the case, but neither the cops and agents who did all that nor the supervisors who sent them there will lose anything whatever. Massachusetts taxpayers, and likely general American taxpayers, will pay Corcoran some (probably large) amount of money, Corcoran’s lawyers will latch onto a goodish chunk of it, and the people who invaded an American citizen’s home and confiscated his possessions will get, at worst for them, a couple weeks suspension (with full pay) and chiding notes in their files, probably not even that — and life will go on. For them.

That’s wrong. It used to be, and ought to still be, that the people who did the damage pay the penalty. It’s still mostly true in criminal law, but civil law has been so distorted by the “deep pockets” concept that genuine tortfeasors (lawspeak for “bad guys”) who happen to be Government employees rarely lose a dime, or a minute’s sleep, over it. Employees of private businesses who lose on those grounds generally lose their jobs if the company thinks they really did the deed, but apparently Government employees can do no wrong — it’s the taxpayers who hired them (and who may be as outraged as anyone at their employees’ behavior) who end up paying. It seems to have started with Civil Rights suits in the Fifties and Sixties, but it’s metastasized.

Corcoran himself seems to be keeping his cool over the incident, suggesting that people donate to their Church instead of to him. I do have a suggestion for him, though:

Sue the bastards personally.

That is: get a list of the people who participated in the raid, whether on the ground or by ordering or supervising from the office. Sue them, each and severally, using John and Jane Doe for those the agencies won’t name, for a modest amount by court case standards — fifty grand or so, something that would be lost in the rounding errors for a Government agency but will hurt like Hell if a private individual loses it — plus a proportionate share of Court costs and lawyer fees, plus the totality of any and all amounts the individuals are compensated by their employers for their loss. Make them pay, rather than enjoying a windfall at taxpayer expense. If the agencies try to burden the taxpayers, take the money and enjoy it.

Is that possible? Damifino. I’m not a lawyer. But if it could be made to work, it would send up a red flag for cops and Government agencies everywhere — if your supervisor tells you to do something that’s unconstitutional or otherwise out of line, and you go ahead and follow the illegal order, you can be hurt, personally, in your own precious self and pocketbook, rather than getting a week’s vacation and a little praise with faint damns[1] and getting on with life as if nothing had happened.

As I said, I have no idea if it’s possible or could work. But something needs to be done to restrain the epidemic of police and Government intrusion on people’s private lives on little or no ground, and making the individuals involved personally responsible for their misbehavior would go a long way toward getting that started.

UPDATE: Commenter GuyS clarifies: Simple ownership of a firearm requires a license in Massachusetts, and Mr. Corcoran is a gun owner; the post has been edited to reflect actual conditions, with strikeouts for replaced text.

The excuse for armed intervention is that Corcoran’s tacky remarks call into question his qualifications to be a gun owner. IMAO the intervention itself calls into question the qualifications of any and all participants, direct or indirect, to participate in American citizenship, but that’s just me.

Read Can’t Hark My Cry’s comment, and weep.

[1]I am indebted to Spider Robinson for that phrase. I hope he didn’t copyright it.