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Gun Confiscation By Police On The Rise Coast To Coast

police confiscated guns

Image source: www.wbez.org

The confiscation of guns from citizens by police in the United States is more common than most people think. Recent news reports reveal that incidents of questionable firearms seizures occur all over the country — and are on the rise.

Just as disturbing, it is common for police to seize and keep weapons even if no criminal charges are filed, or if the case if dismissed.

Eric Lee of Dekalb County, Georgia, bought a gun because he was worried about break-ins at his furniture store. He was arrested one night outside his store for loitering and carrying a gun on his property. He had a permit.

“They (the police) just pulled in and said, ‘What is going on? What is going on? Hands up, Anybody have any weapon?’ I said I have a gun. They just grabbed me, took my gun and threw me in the car,” Lee said.

A judge dismissed the case and apologized, but Lee still doesn’t have his gun back. He has filed a federal lawsuit.

“He’s not looking to retire off this or harm the taxpayers, he is looking for some kind of accountability,” attorney Shannon Briley-Holmes told WSB-TV.

A Problem Across The Country

In Cleveland, Ohio, resident Derrick Washington had to sue the city to get his .38 caliber Taurus revolver back even though he had a concealed carry permit for the weapon. Officers took the gun from Washington on Feb. 11, 2013, but wouldn’t give it back under a city ordinance that allows police to keep a gun until a “court of competent jurisdiction” orders it returned.

Washington is particularly angry because prosecutors never filed charges against him. Police had arrested Washington for being intoxicated and carrying a gun. He just happened to be in a location where a shooting had occurred.

A police report actually stated: “Based on information received from arresting officers, as well as the fact that Washington was not involved in the felonious assault-shooting, (the prosecutor) ruled no papers against Derrick Washington (because of) insufficient evidence. As a result, no criminal charges will be brought against Derrick Washington.”

How to hide your guns, and other off grid caches…

His attorney, though, said he had not been drinking.

Police and prosecutors in Cleveland contend that a city ordinance gives them the power to confiscate and keep weapons. Gun rights activists note that the ordinance might actually violate a state law.

“It seems to me that Cleveland is stepping over the state law, yet again, with respect to firearms,” Jeff Garvas, the founder and president of Ohioans For Concealed Carry, told The Plain Dealer newspaper. “The city cannot have its own confiscation ordinance, as state law preempts it.”

Californians have to Pass Criminal Background Check To Get Guns Back

Washington is not the only person who has to sue to get guns back from authorities. There have been other incidents of questionable confiscation around the country.

An organization called the Calguns Foundation had to sue the cities of San Francisco and Oakland over letters to owners of confiscated guns. In a case called Churchill vs. Harris, the Foundation alleged that the letter law enforcement sent to owners of confiscated guns did not properly explain the process for getting a confiscated gun back. In June, a federal judge agreed with the Foundation and ordered the letter which was written by the California Department of Justice changed.

This lawsuit was sparked by a 2005 California state law that allows police to impound guns until the state Department of Justice certifies the owner is legally eligible to possess firearms. The law basically says that Californians have to pass a criminal background check to get their own guns back from the police.

Californians sometimes need to hire an attorney to get a court order to compel authorities to release firearms, California attorney Bruce Colodny noted. Such an effort can be time-consuming and costly. Colodny also noted that owners have to provide documentation of ownership such as a receipt to get their guns back.

Guns are often seized after domestic disputes or disputes with neighbors in California, Colodny wrote on his blog. Weapons are sometimes seized simply because somebody sees them and calls the police.

“Be discreet with firearms when you are loading or unloading your vehicle and when you are cleaning a firearm, to prevent observation by a neighbor or passerby who may overreact and call the police,” Colodny advised California gun owners.

San Francisco has a new high-capacity magazine ban that makes it illegal to sell guns with magazines with the ability to hold more than 10 rounds. The law also requires that citizens who already own high-capacity magazines turn them in to the police department within 90 days. Meanwhile, residents of New York City are being ordered to turn certain kinds of guns into the police or face confiscation. As reported by Off The Grid News, the NYC law applies to rifles and shotguns that hold more than five rounds. And in Connecticut, results must turn in any firearm that the state now considers an “assault weapon” that was not registered by Jan. 1. The guns cans be confiscated.

What To Do if Police Confiscate Your Gun

Fortunately, there are a number of steps that a citizen can take if police confiscate his or her gun. The main steps to take include:

  • Get a document for a confiscated weapon from the police. Make sure the officers give you a document that describes the weapon and states it was taken from you.
  • Inquire about the legal process for getting a weapon back and follow it.
  • Contact gun rights groups or Second Amendment activists.
  • Contact an attorney who is experienced in gun rights cases and is familiar with the laws of your state. Many states have laws that ban or limit such confiscation. Unfortunately police sometimes ignore such laws.
  • Complain to law enforcement officials, prosecutors and elected officials such as county sheriffs. These individuals will sometimes give guns back just to avoid controversy.

Law Protects Gun Owners

The good news is that there are some efforts to curb gun confiscation taking place. A new state law in Arizona requires officers to give citizens a detailed receipt for confiscated guns.

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8 comments

  1. Cops arrested my fiancée almost 2 weeks ago for assault. They searched our home and took my sons rifle that he had hanging on his wall. My sons father gave him this rifle and it has sentimental value. It was not loaded nor is there any bullets in the house.
    There is a no contact order between me and my fiancée but they refuse to give my son back his rifle.

    How can they just come in and take my sons rifle and now keep it? How can I get it back?

  2. Baltimore County Cops stole my families 60+ year collection of rare antique guns and sporting arms. 161 guns valued at $150000. Many rare and historically important guns. And then the States Attorney committed perjury against me in court. I’m devastated, my families heirlooms and inheritance stolen by rogue ignorant cops.

  3. i’m not that stupid to put my real name on here but other words, many states have been affected so far i live in wyoming and just found out, thanks again fyi move to wyoming and become a resident and the gov can’t take ur guns if u are a law abiding citizen because wyoming pass a law stating that any law enforcement including the fbi or sore forth will go to jail up to 2 years

  4. Public intoxication

    Well i was drinking in a bar. I went to bathroom and my gun slipped off my belt (holster and all). I saw somebody in the corner of my eye walking out. I just picked it up and put it back on. I went back to drinking at the bar. Thirty to fourty five minutes later the cops walk in and arrest me for public intoxication. They confiscated my gun and took me to jail. I do have a carry permit but it probably doesn’t matter.
    Anyway I pleaded guilty to public intoxication (thinking I got off easy). I went to pick up my gun and they told me I had to wait for a background check to be processed by the sheriff and they would only hold it for 15 days before its destroyed. They would call me. Now I’m thinking maybee I should get a lawyer but hate to spend that extra money to get my $600 gun back. I would rather loose my carry permit than my gun. It’s been 4 days and they haven’t called yet.

  5. Upon opening my deceased father in laws safe it was discovered that the local police dept chief had engraved His initials and the case number into the NICKEL of this .38. Colt Diamiondback expecting to to keep it himself. My “Dad” had been arrested for carrying it in 1983. I realize that’s along time ago and chief is dead, but point is he destroyed the guns value which would has increased in value 10 fold and more and now it has NO
    collecter value. …can anything be done?

  6. My parents found a hand gun without ammo on their property. They informed the police, and asked them to check the gun for any links to crime. They wrote down that they would like the gun returned to them as their property, if it was not used in a prior crime. The police melted it down.

    This is a waste of energy and is destroying history for our nation.

  7. Police took all my BF’s guns after he committed suicide. One of them was my gun. Is it legal for police to just give away my gun? I saw they were taking the gun collection and I told them I own one of the guns.
    They said the gun was registered to my BF which was not true after they looked up my gun’s serial number. They probably just checked a couple of the guns and assumed the rest were his. The police gave all the guns to my BF’s daughter. I got a email from the estate lawyer saying I have to prove that my gun had any accessories, like my scope, strap and hard gun case. She pawned my gun and they refuse to give me the gun shop’s receipt or name of the pwn shop. That would be the best way to inform them of my accessories.
    Is it legal for police to give my gun away?

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