QKShooter Goes To Court Today.
BUT, JUST TO SIT THERE...NOT ON TRIAL.
I had to go down to the Downtown PGH. Courthouse early today as my Wife was subpoenaed to testify in a case.
Naturally, me being the ideal, dream, hubby. I went along with her.
There were a few criminal cases being heard by the judge before hers was scheduled to be heard.
The one that really woke me up was a firearm violation case.
It was interesting.
(Why did it wake me up? because we had to be there at 8:30 AM & the judge did not even hold court until 10:30 AM)
Here is how it all went down...I won't mention any names or even the name of the judge.
A 27 year old white male is in his vehicle rolling down the road.
A Police Officer notices that there are NO stickers at all on the vehicle windshield.
He does a legitimate stop & pulls the vehicle over.
The lone occupant of the vehicle immediately informs the LEO that there is a firearm in the glove box whereupon the officer tells the driver that he is going to secure the weapon & he does.
The driver is cooperative & passive.
Just FYI the firearm is discovered unloaded ~ No round in the chamber. ~ No magazine in or with the firearm.
The officer asks the driver where the magazine for the firearm is and the driver tells the officer that it is on the floor to the rear side of the drivers seat.
The officer then questions the driver as to why there are no stickers on his windshield.
The driver states that his windshield was recently broken & produces two pieces of broken windshield glass from the vehicle center console that have legal, valid, current stickers on the glass.
The officer then asks the driver if he has a Pistol Permit or is legal to carry the firearm.
The driver tells the officer that he does not have a pistol permit but, is on his way to the pistol range to meet a friend for target shooting.
There was a shooting range located about 4 miles away & the driver was headed in that general direction.
In Pennsylvania...it is LEGAL to have a Revolver/Pistol/Long & Shotgun in your vehicle (Without A Permit or License To Carry) provided that the ammunition is separate from the firearm & that the person in the vehicle is headed to or coming back from a Shooting Range.
The officer decides to check out his story & (on the scene) requests that another back-up officer take a quick run up to the pistol range to check the place out and speak with the friend AKA find out if the kid was really headed there.
The back-up officer gets to the range.
The pistol range is closed.
There is nobody there at all.
The indoor target range building is locked.
There is no friend at the range.
The driver himself stated that he was not a member of the range.
The driver was not arrested or taken into custody (at the time of the vehicle stop) but, obviously did have a criminal charges filed against him & had to appear in criminal court.
The handgun was confiscated by the officer at the time of the vehicle stop.
The driver had legally purchased the handgun a couple of weeks earlier...alleged that he had shot the pistol at that same range on two previous occasions since buying the pistol.
The factory S&W box was on the back seat of the vehicle and one additional empty magazine for the pistol was located in the factory S&W box.
The pistol & box and one spare mag were produced as evidence in court.
To the best of MY knowledge the reason for the criminal charges being filed were that the driver could not have been going to the target range to meet a friend since the range was closed.
Also that the officer stated the he felt that the loaded magazine was too easily accessible to the driver & the driver also did not have a sporting type (I guess) recreation type firearm permit.
I'm not quite clear on that as I was distracted when some Alleg Cnty Sheriff brought some handcuffed guy in through the door that I was sitting next to.
The driver had no past or other criminal history at all or prior convictions. In other words...he was clean.
I believe that he had a public defender.
The defendant did have to testify & when asked WHY he did not have a pistol permit even though there would be absolutely no legal reason that he would have been denied one in Pennsylvania...He stated that he did not want to carry a pistol until he had practiced with it for a while & learned how to use it.
That was a very logical answer but, in PA...he could have just gone for his LTC right away with no range time or testing required (or mandated) & then just not carried his handgun until he thought he was ready to carry it. For whatever reason he decided NOT to do that & no issue was made about that at all.
Asked WHY he did not have the handgun in the trunk...he stated that he drove a hatchback & felt that the firearm would be more secure in the glove.
Asked: If he wanted to make the firearm "More Secure" - Was the glove compartment and/or the firearm in a locked condition?
He answered "No."
This kid obviously quite scared up on the stand & a double shade of very nervous white.
There was other incidental stuff included but, I could not remember all of it. You got a pretty good accurate gist of it here though. :yup:
The judge then took a very quick recess & then came back in & basically threw the case out.
The Judge asked the driver a few last minute questions...Like...Are you employed? ~ Have you ever been in trouble before? - and then Case Over.
The driver answered the judge in a polite manner.
The PA statute (which was read aloud in court) only states that the unloaded firearm be in a separate location from the ammunition inside the vehicle & no other required specifics are given.
It also does not state that any separate magazine needs to be in an unloaded condition or that one or the other needs to be secured in the trunk.
Actually the unloaded magazine could still be in the firearm as long as the ammunition is not in the same immediate location with it.
The story continues:
As it turns out...the members of the range have their own keys to the locked indoor range.
The officer that went to the range and saw that the building was locked only stayed at the range 5 to 10 minutes total & so the kid Could Have Been meeting his member friend at the range who would have had a key & "said friend" just not arrived yet.
There was no evidence supporting the fact that he was not going to the range to meet a friend.
He was asked what time he was to meet his friend at the range...he answered "around 5:00" (which would have been 5:00 PM)
No friend was in court to testify on his behalf.
The firearm & the box & both magazines were returned to him immediately following the trial and (I'm guessing OUTSIDE the courthouse) since even all LEOs are not allowed to be armed in the courthouse)
I believe that he was fined $25.00 for not having the stickers on his windshied as required by law.
A Police Officer (unrelated to that case) & sitting right next to me asked me what I thought about the case while the judge was in quick recess.
I said I thought it the case should never have come to court.
The officer (sitting next to me in the peanut gallery) said that he sort of personally believed that the kid was skirting the Legal PA Carry laws and was possibly using the "to & from the range" line as a legal loophole...as there was no additional ammunition in the car & no hearing protection & no friend produced & that nobody normally makes a trip to the range with just one loaded mag full of ammo to target shoot. Those were just quick thoughts that popped into his head & he was not making any legal argument. Since he was not involved in that case no matter really what his thoughts were.
I should add that the officer had just quietly stated his private "gut feeling personal opinion" and he WAS NOT in any way upset by the way the eventually judge ruled.
He was in no way involved with that case.
My gut feeling was also that the driver was not headed to the range at that exact time either.
Just a sneaking, funny "hunch only" of mine....BUT, that he could have been going there & nobody proved that he was not.
He also could have purchased additional ammo at the range - or his friend could have been bringing both more ammo & an extra set of muffs for him.
So that throws out those unofficial opinions also.
Anyway...That is the way it all went down..."to the best of my recollection" as Hillary Clinton would say.
All of this does prove one thing.
That you can be technically/legally "OK" & still get put through some serious legal worry and hassle.
I would not have wanted to be that young dude today.