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Thread: MS counties suspend gun rights during stops

  1. #1
    Regular Member Kopis's Avatar
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    Jun 2013
    Nashville, TN

    MS counties suspend gun rights during stops

    Anyone else seen this? The AGs comments are especially disturbing where he said that the 2A only refers to people in an active militia, not everyday citizens.

    At least two Rankin County Police Departments appear to be breaking the law as a matter of policy. Officer “perceived safety” overrides all rights a citizen may have to carry a gun.

    A recent Attorney General opinion was issued to Florence City Attorney David Ringer. It appeared Ringer was seeking an agreement from the Attorney General as to the way many Rankin County vehicle stops are conducted. Ringer wanted to know if it was okay for a patrolman to take possession of a person’s gun during a vehicle stop or other contact. He prefaced the question for two responses. One was for open carry and the other was for concealed carry. Looking at the verbiage Ringer used in his questions, there was no question in my mind that he was already familiar with the Supreme Court’s stand on his question and he simply wanted confirmation that it was okay for them to do something different in Florence.

    The Attorney General refused to answer Ringer’s questions as posed. First, he was told that it would depend on factual circumstances. Then the AG concluded that those facts would have to be examined using federal law so as to determine whether or not the seizure would be based on an unlawful search and seizure. The AG went so far as to include a copy of the federal landmark case that has stood as the controlling case law even before I learned it in the academy in 1976. That case is Terry v Ohio 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

    The U.S. Supreme Court decided in that case that an officer may briefly detain an individual who is or about to be involved in a crime. However, it goes on to say that an officer may “frisk” an individual he believes to be armed and is PRESENTLY DANGEROUS. If the officer feels a weapon he may take it to ensure his safety.

    The case says: Terry frisks normally involve instances in which a police officer believes that person detained has a weapon concealed on his person. Where a person is carrying a weapon in a non-concealed fashion, the question, assuming a valid Terry stop, is simply whether the officer may temporarily seize that weapon during the period of detention.

    The case goes on to say that there are a number of cases where an officer may seize a weapon that is in plain view in order to insure the safety of the officer and others nearby when there is a REASONABLE OR LEGITIMATE CONCERN FOR SAFETY. But whether or not there is a legitimate concern for safety is based on the facts of that particular stop, not an “across the board policy.” That is what the Attorney General told Ringer, “What factual circumstances would be sufficient to give rise to a legitimate concern for safety of an officer or others is a question that can only be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”

    The response the Attorney General did confirm was that if a person were carrying in accordance with our state law that, it would not in itself “give rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity”. The decision also said that if the stop were valid, an officer may take immediate control of a weapon in the car IF (and only IF), the officer reasonably believes based on specific, articulable facts that the occupant(s) is/are DANGEROUS.

    This opinion came at a unique time for me. Ironically on the same day I reviewed the opinion, I receive a call from another instructor who told me he was contacted by a man who was stopped in his pick-up truck in Pearl last week for speeding. He said the officer observed his permit and asked if he had a gun. He responded in the affirmative and the officer asked to see it. Then the officer dumped the ammo in the back of the truck and threw the gun in the back telling the man he could retrieve it after he left.

    I wasn’t there and only have heard one side of the story. However, this prompted me to call the Pearl Police Department without divulging the information listed above. As a retired law enforcement officer to an active law enforcement officer, I just inquired from Assistant Chief Starette as to what their policy was when stopping a person with a concealed permit. The Chief was too important to talk to me so that’s how I ended up with the buffer guy. At any rate, he was at best, irate for me even asking or questioning their policy. But when I asked for a copy of their policy, he said they had no policy on that. He went on to say it was officer discretion, but they stand behind their officers taking guns on any stop, emptying them and then running an NCIC check to ensure they aren’t stolen before returning them. I was at the AG briefing of 340 police officers in the War Memorial Building following HB2 and they were told by AG staff that they could not do that. I am amazed at the arrogance and ignorance shown by senior police officers.

    My next call was to Attorney David Ringer. I knew I was wasting my time when he started the conversation with his belief that the AG and legislature have it wrong. He said he believed the 2nd Amendment only allows gun possession if you are engaged in the state militia. At any rate, I went on to at least give him my two cents that people with permits had been vetted through the system for gun licenses like law enforcement officers were to obtain their jobs. I explained to him that not everybody who carried a gun was a criminal or dangerous and should not be treated as such. He said they would continue their efforts to ensure officers remained safe (seemingly with no regard for citizens’ rights). I told him we have almost 70,000 permit holders and according to the highway patrol there has never been a gun license revoked for misconduct or misuse of a weapon. I went on to explain that I did a study last year and found 32 police officers in a year of media clips had committed everything from theft to murder and that we only have 10,300 in the state. He said I was assuming law enforcement officers who arrest permit holders seek revocation of permit holders committing crimes. “Well”, I said, “they go after your driver’s license if you drive drunk, so why wouldn’t they?” He couldn’t answer that. Then I asked him what these Rankin County cops were so scared of, comparing them to Game Wardens who have faced everybody with a gun since the 1930’s and they don’t see every hunting license holder as a criminal or treat them that way. He couldn’t answer that either so I ended the call in hopes of appealing to somebody else with common sense. It obviously did not exist on the other end of the phone.

    There are some cases in the law where you must treat everybody the same in the way you deal with them. However, in this case, I think it is exactly opposite, you cannot treat everybody the same but must determine first of all if the person you are dealing with has laid some bed of facts that make you fear your life before temporarily taking their weapon. The fact that the person has a permit alone, I don’t believe is enough. If permit holders are less likely to commit crimes than the police themselves are, how could we be perceived as DANGEROUS when stopped unless we are exhibiting some extreme, arrogant or violent, threatening behavior? Statistics show that we are less violent or prone to committing crimes than they are. These two agencies need to be flooded with citizen complaints.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    earth's crust
    Even some judges still opinion of the militia aspect of the 2nd should not be surprised to run into attnys who still speak such nonsense.

    Want to complain? Complain to the bar assoc. or equivalent in your state. I'm sure that there is some ethics violation one could plead.
    Last edited by davidmcbeth; 10-16-2014 at 09:00 AM.

  3. #3
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Granite State of Mind
    I've been through Mississippi a couple of times. So far as I know, nothing fell off my car while traveling through, and even if it had, it's not worth going back.

    Unfortunately, they let the original domain name expire, but here's a summary from later:
    Last edited by KBCraig; 10-19-2014 at 08:56 PM.

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