Legal Question/ Target shooting and

Legal Question/ Target shooting and

This is a discussion on Legal Question/ Target shooting and within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; A buddy of mine just picked up a new pistol the other day and we went out to some property that a friend owns and ...

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  1. #1
    New Member Array oconeenative's Avatar
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    Legal Question/ Target shooting and

    A buddy of mine just picked up a new pistol the other day and we went out to some property that a friend owns and were shooting into a large dirt pile. We had the 9 mm pistol and a little 22 rifle just plinking.

    I look coming down the road and here comes a deputy sheriff and he cruises by us and then turns around, next thing we know here comes another one. I walked over and introduced myself and was told by the officer that they had a report of shots fired in the area and had to come investigate. I told him we had permission to be on the property and he agreed that we were doing nothing illegal, but he still had to write a report and take the serial number of the weapon that we were firing and run it to make sure it was not stolen. He said that it is a new policy that the sheriff has implemented because some of the locals are not reporting gunshots until they are at the hospital with a wound.

    Just curious what yall's thoughts are on 1. the legality of this, 2. is it worth contacting the Sheriff's department and filing a complaint.

    Brandon


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    VIP Member Array ExactlyMyPoint's Avatar
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    You are not doing anything illegal, yet he wants to run your serial numbers???? He just admitted NO probably cause. Well, from previous posts, the Fourth Amendment has been shredded, so I guess it is OK.
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    I wouldn't give any serial numbers. No illegal activity, no warrant, not happening. I'll be nice and polite, but I'm not going to give out that kind of information without a warrant.
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    What you do while standing in a field talking to law enforcement, while armed, is not the same as what you do in a neutral location. After the fact, you should be discussing this with the Sheriff in his office, with the county attorney or state Attorney Generals office. While in the field, maybe let the cop fire the weapon for a professional opinion of the weapon. Citizens acting legally doesn't require an investigation. The shots fired may require a police report, but that shouldn't be your problem. People acting legally= no probable cause.
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    They can do whatever you consent to have done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paaiyan View Post
    I wouldn't give any serial numbers. No illegal activity, no warrant, not happening. I'll be nice and polite, but I'm not going to give out that kind of information without a warrant.
    Ummm, yeah.

    Know your rights. If they don't have the legal authority to compel, they can still ask, but you have every right to refuse.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX expat View Post
    Ummm, yeah.

    Know your rights. If they don't have the legal authority to compel, they can still ask, but you have every right to refuse.
    There is a video posted on FB of a law student who was open carrying and a police officer stopped him. Well, the guy who was carrying refused a search, refused to provide and ID, and rattled off a list of court cases that protect his rights, and totally owned the cop. The supervisor showed up and agreed that the guy has the right to walk since the only concern was he was carrying. I have no idea regarding if anything that the guy said was true or what the deal was, but it makes me wonder.

    Personally, I wonder where the line is between what our rights are and obstructing an officer is. I would rather not provide any information unless legally required to.

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    No reason to record serial numbers. No crime committed. I would have said no thanks.
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    Senior Member Array DocT65's Avatar
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    My take on this would be that if the SO received a report of shots fired and they respond and find that to be the case, they have to make a report of contact and identify involved individuals. If you are not the property owner, that may be where it gets sticky. Without some type of lease or bona-fide evidence of your ability to be legally shooting at that property and not trespassing, the deputy would have a case for PC to check things out in many courts. The fact that you consented to having the weapons checked in fact makes it legal. You never said you were arrested or otherwise detained; I think you would be hard pressed to buck this scenario as described, but ultimately that would be up to a judge......and different judges may interpret the law differently case to case.
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    You could refuse but I would expect that you would be threatened with the ol standby "obstruction" ....these deputys probably don't like it either but not enough to risk losing their jobs over. I would personally ask for a warrant and tell em to come back when they have one and BTW please have the watch commander come here NOW. If they choose to get belligerent would probably let the watch commander see the weapon and get the number but with the understanding that I would be in the sheriff's office in the morning with the local news media to have this new "rule" explained further.

    Always seems that once you get their "superior" on the site ... things change, maybe its because the commander has to justify his decision to his boss with more than " I was just doing what I was told"

    Don't know SC law ...seems to be a different country than Ga, always seemed that way

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    Quote Originally Posted by MJClark View Post
    There is a video posted on FB of a law student who was open carrying and a police officer stopped him. Well, the guy who was carrying refused a search, refused to provide and ID, and rattled off a list of court cases that protect his rights, and totally owned the cop. The supervisor showed up and agreed that the guy has the right to walk since the only concern was he was carrying. I have no idea regarding if anything that the guy said was true or what the deal was, but it makes me wonder.

    Personally, I wonder where the line is between what our rights are and obstructing an officer is. I would rather not provide any information unless legally required to.
    The line will depend on the situation, which is why it's important to understand the laws that may apply to you (local/state). The important thing to remember is there is a legal distinction between complying with a legal requirement and complying with what basically amounts to a courtesy.

    Generically speaking an officer can require ID, or potentially other information, if they are actively involved in an investigation. You get pulled over and the officer suspects you have been drinking, as an example. Probable cause gives them a certain amount of latitude because they are actively trying to determine if laws are being broken and they have some specific 'reason' for their investigation (they witnessed your vehicle driving in a manner that might be due to impairment). If an officer has no probable cause and is not investigating a potential criminal act, they cannot simply compel you to produce ID (or in the original post, a firearm's SN). They have to have a reason for this because you have rights that protect you from self incrimination as well as illegal search. They don't have the legal right to detain you with the hopes that they might eventually find some reason to suspect you of criminal activity. The most important thing to remember is there is no law that prohibits them from seeking a voluntary waiver of your rights. So basically they can ask for ID, or whatever else, without probable cause; if you comply, then you are freely giving up your rights. Many people think that simply saying 'no thank you' is going to get you arrested. It may, depending on the circumstance, but given those circumstances, you might be heading there anyway.

    I'm not intending to give any legal advice here. Know your laws. Know your rights.
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    Senior Member Array DocT65's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by latentcarry View Post
    You could refuse but I would expect that you would be threatened with the ol standby "obstruction" ....these deputys probably don't like it either but not enough to risk losing their jobs over. I would personally ask for a warrant and tell em to come back when they have one and BTW please have the watch commander come here NOW. If they choose to get belligerent would probably let the watch commander see the weapon and get the number but with the understanding that I would be in the sheriff's office in the morning with the local news media to have this new "rule" explained further.

    Don't know SC law ...seems to be a different country than Ga, always seemed that way
    Misconception here, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the Constitutionality of "warrantless searches". The required element for search is "probable cause" on the part of the officer. Many courts also acknowledge the concept of "reasonable suspicion" which is generally held to a lower standard than PC in the courts. Neither is defined in the Constitution per se, but the SCOUS has upheld the legality of searches meeting these elements as descibed in case law.

    In this scenario, LE receives a complaint of "shots fired". Upon investigation, they find armed individuals who are seen firing weapons on private property that they do not own or have evidence of legally being upon. Most LEO's I know would consider this to clearly meet reasonable suspicion or even PC to search; how they ultimately act on that is a personal call. If they are under Department directive to act as was described, then it appears that the deputies were following policy. The scene is really not the place to argue the point, particulary when the subjects of the complaint are armed.
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    Must have been city folk that called it in.

    Keep shooting out there and they will get used to it.

    As far as complying with the request of a LEO that really is best played out on a case by case basis. But a unwarranted inspection of your gun would trample your 4th and 5th amendment rights and you would be able to legally decline.

    If they started sending deputies out to check on the sound of gunshots in my area they would need 100 extra deputies.

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    I don't know the specifics of game law except a tad for one state, not SC. So for SC I'll just speculate
    that there may be a whole bunch of laws for which there was reasonable suspicion; and there may also be some
    law regarding the exact distance from a dwelling you must be or even the number of acres the property must
    be before a rifle (pistol too) can be fired upon it.

    Turning over the serial numbers is a low level courtesy, and probably kept them from thinking of all the other
    things you might actually have been unknowingly doing.

    That said, I'd go talk to their boss and the DA about all of this. First I'd check on your hunting laws
    and then on the required distance from a dwelling and the required minimum acreage needed.
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    VIP Member Array Taurahe's Avatar
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    I would have politely refused. IMO they had no reason. They had no way to ascertain wether you wee on the property legally, and that is not why they were there. You were committting no crime therefore they had no reason to record or run the serial no of your weapon. I would have a talk with your local sheriff.
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