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Thread: Minority Report

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    http://www.rep-am.com/News/357596.txt

    Now here's a scary story.
    Unique law lets police seize guns before a crime is committed

    BY PAUL HUGHES REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN


    HARTFORD -- Using a unique state law, police in Connecticut have disarmed dozens of gun owners based on suspicions that they might harm themselves or others.

    The state's gun seizure law is considered the first and only law in the country that allows the confiscation of a gun before the owner commits an act of violence. Police and state prosecutors can obtain seizure warrants based on concerns about someone's intentions.

    State police and 53 police departments have seized more than 1,700 guns since the law took effect in October 1999, according to a new report to the legislature. There are nearly 900,000 privately owned firearms in Connecticut today.

    Opponents of a gun seizure law expressed fears in 1999 that police would abuse the law. Today, the law's backers say the record shows that hasn't been the case.

    "It certainly has not been abused. It may be underutilized," said Ron Pinciaro, coexecutive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.

    Attorney Ralph D. Sherman has represented several gun owners who had their firearms seized under the law. His latest client was denied a pistol permit because the man was once the subject of a seizure warrant.

    "In every case I was involved in I thought it was an abuse," said Sherman, who fought against the law's passage.

    The report to the legislature shows that state judges are inclined to issue gun seizure warrants and uphold seizures when challenged in court.

    Out of more than 200 requests for warrants, Superior Court judges rejected just two applications — one for lack of probable cause, and another because police had already seized the individual's firearms under a previous warrant. Both rejections occurred in 1999. The legislature's Office of Legislative Research could document only 22 cases of judges ordering seized guns returned to their owners.

    Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, is one of the chief authors of the gun seizure law. In his view, the number of warrant applications and gun seizures show that police haven't abused the law.

    "It is pretty consistent," said Lawlor, the House chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

    Robert T. Crook, the executive director of the Connecticut Coalition of Sportsmen, questioned whether police have seized more guns than the number reported to the legislature. Crook said the law doesn't require police departments or the courts to compile or report information on gun seizures. The Office of Legislative Research acknowledged that its report may have underreported seizures.

    "We don't know how many guns were actually confiscated or returned to their owners," Crook said.

    Police seized guns in 95 percent of the 200-plus cases that the researchers were able to document. In 11 cases, police found no guns, the report said.

    Spouses and live-in partners were the most common source of complaints that led to warrant applications. They were also the most frequent targets of threats. In a Southington case, a man threatened to shoot a neighbor's dog.

    The gun seizure law arose out of a murderous shooting rampage at the headquarters of the Connecticut Lottery Corp. in 1998. A disgruntled worker shot and killed four top lottery officials and then committed suicide.

    Under the law, any two police officers or a state prosecutor may obtain warrants to seize guns from individuals who pose an imminent risk of harming themselves or others. Before applying for warrants, police must first conduct investigations and determine there is no reasonable alternative to seizing someone's guns. Judges must also make certain findings.

    The law states that courts shall hold a hearing within 14 days of a seizure to determine whether to return the firearms to their owners or order the guns held for up to one year.

    Sherman said his five clients all waited longer than two weeks for their hearings. Courts scheduled hearing dates within the 14-day deadline, but then the proceedings kept getting rescheduled. In one client's case, Sherman said, the wait was three months.

    Many gun owners don't get their seized firearms back. Courts ordered guns held in more than one-third of the documented seizures since 1999. Judges directed guns destroyed, turned over to someone else or sold in more than 40 other cases.

    A Torrington man was one of the 22 gun owners who are known to have had their seized firearms returned to them.

    In October 2006, Torrington police got a seizure warrant after the man made 28 unsubstantiated claims of vandalism to his property in three-year period. In the application, police described the man's behavior as paranoid and delusional. They said he installed an alarm system, surveillance cameras, noise emitting devices and spotlights for self-protection. They also reported that he had a pistol permit and possessed firearms.

    A judge ordered the man's guns returned four months after police seized them. The judge said the police had failed to show the man posed any risk to himself or others. There also was no documented history of mental illness, no criminal record and no history of misusing firearms. "In fact, the firearms were found in a locked safe when the officers executed the warrant," the ruling said.

    Lawlor and Sherman weren't aware of any constitutional challenges to the law, or any state or federal court rulings on the question of its constitutionality.

    Lawlor said there have been no challenges on constitutional grounds because of the way the law was written. "The whole point was to make sure it was limited and constitutional," he said. Sherman said it is because the law is used sparingly, and because a test case would be too costly for average gun owners.

    Lawlor, Crook, and Sherman don't see the legislature repealing or revising the gun seizure law. Pinciaro said Connecticut Against Gun Violence doesn't see any reason why lawmakers should take either action.

    "The bottom line from our perspective is, it may very well have saved lives," Pinciaro said.

    Crook and Sherman said law-abiding gun owners remain at risk while the gun seizure law remains on the statute books.

    "The overriding concern is anybody can report anybody with or without substantiation, and I don't think that is the American way," Crook said.

  2. #2
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    this is absurd and very much unconstitutional...but not surprising..

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    Innocent until what?

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    AWDstylez wrote:
    Innocent until what?
    That's the whole unconstitutional part of it. If they "pre-emptively" take your weapon before you commit a crime - then no crime gets committed and therefore you're automatically innocent.

    There are enough laws on the books to limit our firearms, one more isn't going to address the issue they are trying to address (if there even is one).

    One of the stipulations for having a pistol and revolver permit is the clause about not being mentally unsound. If you are suspected of being mentally unsound then a qualified diagnosis ought to be the deciding factor NOT 'we felt he was a danger to himself and others' which means it's just an excuse to abuse people.

    This is what happens when people with no common sense get elected to the legislature and start drafting these "feel good" laws which target a minority of people (gun owners) and make the majority feel that their lawmakers are doing a good job.

    Vote the bastards out I say.

    GC

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    GoldCoaster wrote:
    AWDstylez wrote:
    Innocent until what?
    If you are suspected of being mentally unsound then a qualified diagnosis ought to be the deciding factor NOT 'we felt he was a danger to himself and others' which means it's just an excuse to abuse people.

    Didn't you know? The police are gods and we all know that gods can read minds. Why bring a trained, professional psychologist into matters of the mind when you could simply let the police use their super magical sense to make the call?

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    GoldCoaster wrote:
    SNIP This is what happens when people with no common sense get elected to the legislature and start drafting these "feel good" laws which target a minority of people (gun owners) and make the majority feel that their lawmakers are doing a good job.
    Just a quick little editorial re-write:

    This is what happens when people with no [integrity] get elected to the legislature and start drafting these "feel good" laws which target a minority of people (gun owners) and make the majority feel that their lawmakers are doing a good job.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    To be honest...i don't think we are too much of a "minority" here...we have the people...we just don't have the passion...i know lots of gun owners who are not at all politically active...and some who do not "support" open carry,..

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    buketdude wrote:
    To be honest...i don't think we are too much of a "minority" here...we have the people...we just don't have the passion...i know lots of gun owners who are not at all politically active...and some who do not "support" open carry,..
    The term "Minority Report" is a reference to a science fiction film inspired by a story written by Phillip K. Dick, in which the police have the capability to forsee the future and arrest criminals before they commit murder, resulting in thousands of innocent people being imprisoned.

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    buketdude wrote:
    To be honest...i don't think we are too much of a "minority" here...we have the people...we just don't have the passion...i know lots of gun owners who are not at all politically active...and some who do not "support" open carry,..

    That's to be expected. This is the heart of snotty,I-can't-see-past-my-own-nose New England. No one here cares about anyone or anything but themselves. You don't even realize how bad it is until you go somewhere else.


    Need an example? Go to Hoffmans and deal with the stuck up ******** that work there. I've only ever had one person in that store come and offer me help when I was obviously looking for it. Even better, go to Wolf's range in Bristol. Again, one guy aside, that is the biggest bunch of ******** I've ever met, anywhere. We're a community that's supposed to (and needs to)stick together. We don't need a bunch of arrogantindividuals that think they're too good for anyone else. I'd have to say the only gun people around here that I've met that are cool, friendly, and have a "community" mind-set is everyone that works at Newington Gun Exchange. Big thumbs up to them.

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    I hear ya, I went to K5 arms exchange in Milford and the guys there didn't seem too interested in my business, went to guns and safes and made a purchase because they did seem very interested and spent time showing me things and treating me like a friend rather than a customer. The only annoyance was the 3% CC fee they tack on if you buy with a card. I had cash with me so it wasn't a problem but if I didn't it would have been an extra surprise. I can't blame them because the money for using the card comes out of the dealers pocket otherwise.

    I've heard good things about the guys at Newington but it's a bit of a haul for me. Probably worth it if they get something in stock that I reallly want need though. I like to support people that treat me right.

    I've been to the bridgeport shooting range a couple of times and thumbs up to them. It's a nice operation, not too expensive, the people are friendly and they are very pro-kids. Took my son there the other night and he had a blast his first time shooting.

    There are folks at work that have carry permits but don't carry and really just have the permit for the trip between the house and the range on the odd times that they wish to go. I don't say anything about it since it's a personal choice but it would seem to me that having this right and not using it is kinda silly. Most of them are not that "stand up for your rights" kinda people which is sad too. I've been trying to get them a bit more interested in exercising their rights and probably did get a couple of them off simmer. One guy went halfway through the old permit process and then stopped when he had to get letters of reference (not hard to do, but he got lazy) so I told him they aren't required anymore and to take the class over again and get the permit before the anti's take over. I have a couple of neighbors too that I'm lighting a fire under to get them to do the permit process and get their carry permits. I expect both of them will do it once one of them starts as they are brothers in law. every little helps.

    I'm interested to see what happens next over Ed's lawsuit and Peter Kuck's suit regarding open carry. I know the wheels of jurisprudence turn slowly but the suspense is a real killer.

    GC



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    GoldCoaster wrote:

    There are folks at work that have carry permits but don't carry and really just have the permit for the trip between the house and the range on the odd times that they wish to go. I don't say anything about it since it's a personal choice but it would seem to me that having this right and not using it is kinda silly.

    Unfortunately, in CT you need a permit to just travel to the range, or even "easily" purchase a pistol. Lots of folks have a carry permit, never wanted to carry, and don't want the responsibility that goes with carrying a pistol. It's a right, not a requirement.

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