Defensive Carry banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
143,825 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
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)

QKShooter Additions:

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.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
25,483 Posts
Wow QK - I'll bet that guy was in ''pucker state'' all the way thru.!!

He was in some ways running a tight rope, depending on how the thing was viewed and probably knew it too. I'd say that from our perspective he was not really doing much wrong. But from a law standpoint he was lucky he was in enough of a grey area.

Fascinating case and thx for writing it up - interesting to see what happens in such instances.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
19,008 Posts
Good to hear it got thrown out. Better to let 1 possible criminal get away(this time) than set precedent for all gun owners to be persecuted. If the guy is guilty , he will get into trouble again , I imagine. Anyone here never done something a bit foolish? I know I have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
The fact that the young man immediately informed the LEO that there was a firearm in the glovebox seems to put a good light on his intentions (of course, sometimes nervous gang-banger-wanna-be's blurt out incriminating statements, too, and if he thought the officer would see it when he went for his registration, he might have just been covering himself).

Given PA's transport laws, it does sound like he was legit in that aspect, if in fact he was headed to the range. And a lot of ranges do allow members to admit themselves through keys or combinations, so that part could be legit also. His buddy could have been bringing the ammo & eyes&ears since this guy was a beginning shooter.

In that situation, I would have begged my buddy to take time off work to testify on my behalf - I wouldn't have wanted to take a chance on a conviction of a firearm violation.

Glad to hear that you'd have your firearm immediately returned in that situation. I sat in on a court case once (not firearm-related) where, even though the defendant was acquitted, he had to petition the court to get his property back which had been admitted into evidence, and it took about 60 days and a follow-up letter to the judge before the DA's office released it.

How'd your wife's testimony go?

LibertyGal
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,807 Posts
How long does one have to get stickers put on a replacement windshield? I don't know about the kid's story of going to the range, but if he wasn't why tell the LEO at all? It appears that the guy was trying his hardest to provide info to the officer. It may be a reminder not to volunteer info.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
813 Posts
The officers comments were my exact thoughts/questions throughout your entire story---where is the range ammo? Targets? Hearing Protection? I too believe the kid was using the range law as a loop hole....lucky for him it saved his hide! I'm sure his clean record helped the situation. Sounds like one of those "Stupid Kid! Live and learn..." situations. Thanks for the great story!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,868 Posts
I'm sorta glad this went the way it did....I don't think the kid intentionally sent out to do bad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
516 Posts
Thats sad ... I don't care if he wasn't really headed to the range, the fact that any state in the US requires you to have permission to carry your own property around in your car just disgusts me.


Here in Colorado if the kid had his piece loaded and in an IWB holster he would have been within the law (CCW without a permit is perfectly legal in your car).

What a sad state of affairs. :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
291 Posts
QK, sorry for my ignorance but what are these window stickers that you mentioned for?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
Bud White said:
Certain states require inspection stickers I'm guess this is what Qk is talking about
Yeah, PA requires inspection AND emissions stickers. Just another way to get into your wallet and control your life. :hand1:

LibertyGal
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
291 Posts
Thanks Bud and LibertyGal for clearing that up for me.......Bob
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
143,825 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
SORRY.....Yes

that would be the vehicle inspection & emission stickers which must be "up to date" & actually on the windshield.
So the initial stop was a legitimate stop on the part of the LEO.

This case seems like it would have been an NRA jump in case had the judge ruled differently as (I Think) the MAX penalty would have been 7 years incarceration.

ALSO: My gut feeling was that the judge knew that he was going to toss it out even before any evidence was presented. He seemed totally bored & disinterested through the entire proceeding.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
143,825 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Ok Here It Is:

Car/Gun law summary

Title 18 § 6106. Firearms not to be carried without a license.

b (EXCEPTIONS)

4. Any persons engaged in target shooting with rifle, pistol, or revolver, if such persons are at or are going to or from their places of assembly or target practice and if, while going to or from their places of assembly or target practice, the cartridges or shells are carried in a separate container and the rifle, pistol or revolver is unloaded.


Just guessing that since a pistol magazine does "contain" the cartridges ~ then a pistol magazine would legally be considered to be "a container"
The exemption does not specifiy what type of container the cartridges or shells must be contained in.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,214 Posts
Interesting post QK, thanks. The exception quoted in QK's post above is clear that the only allowable reason to carry a gun in a vehicle in PA is for the purpose of going target shooting.

I am under the impression that some states allow you to carry a gun in a vehicle as long as it is not readily accessible. You don't need to be going to a range, etc.

Although, if you ask me, and nobody did, under the Constitution we have the right to carry a firearm without a permit - the Constitution is our permit.

Well I'm preachin' to the choir, but I feel some better now.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
22,134 Posts
Although, if you ask me, and nobody did, under the Constitution we have the right to carry a firearm without a permit - the Constitution is our permit.
Amen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,068 Posts
WJP9 said:
The officers comments were my exact thoughts/questions throughout your entire story---where is the range ammo? Targets? Hearing Protection?...
When I first started shooting handguns, I remember I was not well-equipped. My shooting buddy let me borrow pistols and ammo, initially. For months, I rented various handguns to try them out, and only purchased ammo at the range. It was weeks after my 226 arrived that I settled on a range bag and hearing protection. The range I used required that I buy the ammo and targets, there (the only range in the area), and offered ears and eyes if you needed them. So, if stopped while enroute to the range, I would have had no ammo, no targets, and no ears. I realize the kid's situation is not mine, but my point is that he might really have been just starting out, and not yet fully-equipped. If he was meeting a friend, he might have been relying on his friend for equipment. He was open about everything, and was able to produce the stickers. Maybe his story isn't entirely logical, but how many kids are, especially when they are just starting out? Just a thought.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
209 Posts
The line in this thread that really got to me, was that not even LEO's are allowed to carry in the courtroom!! Holly Batman..... talk about a can of worms, in my opinion. Never heard of that before.. Here abouts... the carry in all courts and infact, they even have LEO's (they might be retired LEO's) carry in the Dept of Motor Vehicles offices, as I saw one yesterday when I was getting a new license. (He was carrying a .357 revolver) Infact, while I was sitting at the counter, being taken care of, a guy next to me was getting pretty upset that he couldnt get a license because he didnt have a Birth Certificate nor other ident. He was getting pretty loud, and the LEO had to come over and have a talk with him. If I am correct, several years ago, some guy got into a shooting match inside a DMV office, and from then on, that is when they started having security.

Well, I too think the guy was using the "going to the range" excuse, but still, glad he made out okay. No Foul, No Harm, I guess.

John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,314 Posts
Only Deputy Sheriffs are allowed to carry firearms in court. Police officers carry by professional courtesy ONLY. I even heard of a hospital emergency department that banned LEOs from carrying!

Whether that kid was lying or not, I care not. He let the law work for him in the end. It is up to the state to prove guilt, not the defendent to prove innocence. The judge must either have been reasonable, or felt that current law SUCKED. At any rate, the judge did his job.

Makes me think of jury nullification, whereby a jury can find someone NOT GUILTY if they think the law is unfair.
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top