Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Law enforcement officers will impound firearms when no crime has been committed. This is driven by a fear of “not doing enough” combined with the demonization of firearms.
Law enforcement hesitation and fear of litigation have combined to legalize the theft of firearms.
In Florida and many other states, it is a common problem that harms numerous innocent victims. Often, the victims have no choice. The guns are taken by force. Other victims are asked for permission, but not warned of the consequences of agreeing to the request by law enforcement. Here is an example out of Florida: From wfsu.org:
“The son—being vindictive—called law enforcement, and said, ‘my father threatened to commit suicide,’” said Byrd. “Law enforcement went out to the home, talked to the father, no one was using drugs, no threats had been made, [and] there was no alcohol. They said, ‘hey, do you have any firearms in the home? Let’s just make sure everything’s calmed down.’ He said, ‘ yes,’ and turned over the firearms. A few days pass, he goes to get them back, and then they said, ‘we need a court order.’ So, he hired an attorney, filed the court order, and the Sheriff’s office came in and had no objection. They didn’t say, hey, we still think there’s a problem.’ They just didn’t object.”
In order to get his gun back, Byrd’s client had to pay a court filing fee of $400, and thousands of dollars more in attorney’s fees.
The client was never warned. He was trying to be a good citizen and cooperate with the officers. For his cooperation, his property was taken and the agency would not return it. The reason usually given is that the agency fears liability action if they return the property without a court order. In Florida, the law requires a court order, when a “breach of peace” is specified.
Florida Representative Cord Byrd, (R)- Neptune Beach, has introduced legislation to rectify this system of legalized theft of firearms. The bill, H6013, removes the Florida provision requiring a court order to return a firearm whether the firearm was taken by an officer with or without a search warrant, upon viewing a breach of peace.
The “breach of peace” statute is being used in Florida to justify the impounding of the firearms and failing to return them unless a court order is obtained. Many firearms cost less than $400. The filing fee alone, for a legal action, costs $400. “Breach of the Peace” has become an easy way to legally steal firearms.
At least one Democrat likes the current system and wants to keep it, because it does not require an actual crime, or any due process, to confiscate the firearms.
Still, Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Miami) says some “domestic violence” disturbances could fall under the “breaching the peace.” That’s because law enforcement may respond to a call—disturbing the peace—involving an abuser who may not be charged with a crime.
“What if there is no civil injunction, or no type of protective order in place,” she asked. “And, there is a 911 call, domestic violence, there’s a weapon in the house, law enforcement arrives, there’s no arrests made, they take the gun…so, they’re to then give it back when they just had a dv call, even though there’s no arrest made, again?
Representative Stafford appears to love hypotheticals. What if… In the rule of law with due process, the hypothetical “what if” is not valid. With the scenario she has created, anyone could simply phone in a domestic violence call, and have an innocent person's property confiscated.
These sort of situations happen all the time. There is virtually no practical recourse for the person who is victimized. There is almost never prosecution for the people who make false calls.
Representative Cord Byrd's bill H6013, has passed the Florida House, 88 to 74. It still needs to be introduced in the Senate. If it is introduced there, and passed, it will need to be signed by the Governor.
H6013 has a long way to go.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.