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Thread: Real Estate agent lets ATF into house; agents see gun case, ammo; get warrant

  1. #1
    Regular Member Repeater's Avatar
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    Real Estate agent lets ATF into house; agents see gun case, ammo; get warrant

    Fair warning. If you place your house on the market and you have guns in your homes, the police can come right on in and look around, pretending to be potential buyers. If they see enough, they might get a search warrant and come back. The Virginia Court of Appeals says that's okay:

    Redmond v. Commonwealth (2010 Va. App. No. 2443-09-4, November 16, 2010):

    The evidence showed that Eric Flagg, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, received information that appellant, who had a prior felony conviction, possessed firearms at his residence on Middle Road in Shenandoah County. Flagg also learned that the property had been listed for sale through a real estate company. In response, Flagg contacted the real estate agent for the property and said he was interested in looking at the house.

    The realtor showed Flagg and Investigator Laura Clutz the home, which had three levels of living space. In a den located in the basement was a wooden gun cabinet with glass panels. Several long guns were visible in the case. Flagg also saw several rounds of ammunition in the case. The realtor did not ask if Flagg and Clutz were police officers, and the officers did not volunteer this information.

    Subsequently, the police filed an affidavit to obtain a warrant to search the Middle Road residence for illegal firearms, ammunition, and related evidence.

    A magistrate issued a search warrant for the entirety of the Middle Road residence on August 11, 2008, and police officers executed the warrant that same day.
    Here's what they found -- and seized:

    In the search, the police recovered several long guns from the unlocked gun cabinet in the basement den. During the search, police also observed on the walls of the residence’s den photographs of appellant posing with deer that had been killed. In addition, miscellaneous items related to guns and hunting were present in the den. The police also found a pistol in a shed adjacent to the residence. Two boxes of ammunition, a gun magazine, and some loose bullets were found in a kitchen cabinet. In the foyer, the police found a box of ammunition on top of a periodical published in January 2007. Men’s clothing, boots, hunting equipment, and a firearm were found in the closet of the master bedroom in the house.
    Those ATF (Special) agents sure are sneaky, huh?
    Last edited by Repeater; 11-23-2010 at 05:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Repeater View Post
    Fair warning. If you place your house on the market and you have guns in your homes, the police can come right on in and look around, pretending to be potential buyers. If they see enough, they might get a search warrant and come back. The Virginia Court of Appeals says that's okay:

    Redmond v. Commonwealth (2010 Va. App. No. 2443-09-4, November 16, 2010):



    Here's what they found -- and seized:



    Those ATF (Special) agents sure are sneaky, huh?
    That's an interesting case, but I guess since they were legally allowed into the residence, it was consent. The seller (convicted felon) consented to having his real estate agent allow people to show his home.

    Repeater,
    I wouldn't put out a warning like you did for this thread. Do you really think LEOs will be checking out open houses of legal gun owners and then turning around to seize their weapons? In fact, the search warrant was only granted because the guy was a CONVICTED FELON. I am not sure about you, but I am against convicted felons possession guns. On top of that, the ATF only went into the house after getting information about a convicted felon possessing weapons.

    I think the only person who should be mad in this situation is the real estate agent.... they wasted their time showing a house. I am glad the ATF was creative enough to follow up on a tip and use our tax money to bust a criminal.

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    The guy was a felon. I don't see any problems here.

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    Convicted Felon!

    I agree with NoVaCop... The key phrase here is: CONVICTED FELON! I do NOT want convicted felons in possession of firearms. It would appear that the feds were watching this guy because he's a dirt-bag. They had an opportunity to legally access his house and in the process found an opportunity to take hm off the street for at least 5 years on the firearms charges.

    We can debate whether or not convicted felons should be allowed to possess firearms, but in the meantime - I do not believe that the firearms was the reason the feds wanted to inspect the home. The firearms are tertiary to the primary case.

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    Regular Member ocholsteroc's Avatar
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    but I am against convicted felons possession guns.
    I am sorry but I am kinda boarder line on this one issue.
    You do not need a gun to murder someone, a car is still a weapon, you get a DUI sure you can get your car back, you get drunk again, kill someone, your in jail for a very long time to life, can you own a car once your released? I do not know the answer to this question but if it is YES then why not allow guns? they still get them illgealy. And you still could "barrow" a friends car, he just doesnt know you killed someone with a car in the past. Its like barrowing a gun or stealing. Just my IMO.

    Now if you are a Violent felon, then yes I say no. But if it was for some low reason, a slap or something and they try to charge you with a felon no, but if you tryed to run someone over, kill someone, intent to murder someone then you should NOT own it. Anyone can buy power tools.
    Last edited by ocholsteroc; 11-23-2010 at 08:52 PM.
    How come a DUI you can get your driver licence back, which it is a privilege. But if commiting a felon, even something non violent like stealing, you are denied your constitutional rights for the rest of your life?
    If you don't support the Second Amendment to the Constitution, what other parts of the Constitution do you reject?
    More restrictions on guns? how about restrictions on chainsaws and knives?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hunter45 View Post
    The guy was a felon. I don't see any problems here.
    Questions: WHEN did he become a convicted felon?--- with regard to the "hunting" photos
    Was he married or have other Legal Residents in the home? And did they actually OWN THE WEAPONS?

    Problem with the last question is they say the gun cabinet was not locked so they will claim "constructive Possesstion"

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    1: Criminals are stupid. And this guy is the poster child for stupid criminals. I recently had some major renovation work done on my house, during which the contractor had to place a lock-box on my door for both workers and material delivery. I removed all guns from my home during this time, and when they were done with the work, I changed the locks on my doors!

    2: I am not a real estate agent, but from what I learned working with a very experienced agent, I bet that agent is quite angry. Apparently they are bound by very strict rules on who they can show a house to, and I'm pretty sure LEOs investigating crimes are not on the list. My agent gave me grief for wanting to see a listed (and vacant) home to learn about the floor plan. I wouldn't be surprised if the criminal in this case might be able to have the agent disciplined or similar with what ever organization oversees realtors.

    Of course what this really comes down to is another example of LEOs being allowed to lie in the course of performing their job. I guess they have to really convince themselves that the ends do justify the means... and the rest of us have to really hope that those means don't extend so far as to intrude upon our Constitutional rights.

    TFred

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    I'm against violent convicted felons who can't be trusted with guns being in public at all. Keep them in jail. They do their time. They're released as free and full citizens then or not at all.
    Last edited by nova; 11-24-2010 at 12:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NovaCop10 View Post
    ... I am against convicted felons possession guns...
    A friend of mine is a convicted felon...his crime? Pulling up election signs the night before the election. Several years ago radio stations had contests for bringing in the most signs and he tried to get a head start.

    Worth losing gun rights over that? Not all felons are dangerous.

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    The only problem I have with the convicted felon not being able to own or possess a firearm is some felonies aren't violent at all. I have no problem with VIOLENT felons being denied possession, but if you're convicted of a non violent crime that happens to be a felony, I see no problem with you owning a firearm.

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    I have no problem with any "felon" owning a gun. "Violent" or not, if a man is free to mingle amongst polite society, there is no physical barrier to him having a gun; that's why most violent felons are armed. Punish the crime, not the status.

    I have a serious problem with the subterfuge used here, on a policy level. But, as much of a 4A absolutist as I am, I have to admit that the homeowner/felon set himself up here. He authorized any real estate agent to enter his home and show it to anyone who asked.

    Which brings me to: What a effin' IDIOT this guy was. Felon or not, who in the HELL would let random strangers into their home to see guns unsecured in old-fashioned glass-front gun cabinets? I bang my head against the desk regularly while looking at online listings of rural property, which include not just mounted trophies, but the same kind of traditional unsecured gun cabinets.

    (I have no problem with storing your guns that way if you're comfortable with it. But advertising it to the world just invites burglary.)

    For him, I suppose it would be better if the prospective homebuyers were thieves, than ATF agents. He'd lose his guns, but stay out of jail. And isn't that a sad commentary on things?

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    I have often heard it said that criminals owe a debt to society. It makes me wonder because once a debtor repays his debt he is no longer considered a debtor. If that's the case why is someone who has served their sentence(or payed their debt, if you will) still considered a criminal?

    I don't know of many on this forum who would deny the righteousness of our founding fathers when they enumerated our right to self protection in the Second Amendment. Why, then do they doubt the same men who in their own time did not seek to deny that same right to someone who committed a crime and had been punished for it? Our founding fathers were well aware of crime and the potential darkness of their fellow man's souls and still did not say that the right of self protection should be denied them.

    There are undoubtedly many who will say that someone who has committed a crime in the past is more likely to do so again. To this I say if they do then convict them of that crime and send them away for it. Just because they may again re offend is not just cause to deny them their rights.

    We believe these rights are granted by our Creator, but believe they can be denied by our fellow man? I for one don't.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nova View Post
    I'm against violent convicted felons who can't be trusted with guns being in public at all. Keep them in jail. They do their time. They're released as free and full citizens then or not at all.
    Careful what you wish for Nova. It's very, very, easy to become a felon these days and violence is all in how it's presented.

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    Many states restore all rights after a person has served their time. Virginia restores rights after a process that shows you did not get out or released from supervision and go right back to a life of crime. The process for violent felons is much more detailed and takes longer.

    When a person is released or place on probation the first meeting with their Probation/Parole Officer they are told the dos and the don'ts. That includes things like leaving the state, staying out of trouble and the loss of your guns rights and privileges.

    Many people have tried to change the process. The most vocal person trying to have "rights" restored in Virginia is State Senator Henry Marsh. I'll bet you never thought he was a "rights" kind of guy. Typically the whole "rights" issue has been a Democratic thing. The Republicans and in particular Jim Gilmore and George Allen rarely did it. Holton, Baliles, Warner and Kaine did it frequently.

    Any form of punishment should fit the crime.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenny View Post
    Many states restore all rights after a person has served their time. Virginia restores rights after a process that shows you did not get out or released from supervision and go right back to a life of crime. The process for violent felons is much more detailed and takes longer.

    When a person is released or place on probation the first meeting with their Probation/Parole Officer they are told the dos and the don'ts. That includes things like leaving the state, staying out of trouble and the loss of your guns rights and privileges.

    Many people have tried to change the process. The most vocal person trying to have "rights" restored in Virginia is State Senator Henry Marsh. I'll bet you never thought he was a "rights" kind of guy. Typically the whole "rights" issue has been a Democratic thing. The Republicans and in particular Jim Gilmore and George Allen rarely did it. Holton, Baliles, Warner and Kaine did it frequently.

    Any form of punishment should fit the crime.
    Makes sense with Marsh. If he could restore voting rights to felons he'd quadruple the number of voters in Richmond.

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    Questions: WHEN did he become a convicted felon?--- with regard to the "hunting" photos
    That was my question as well.

    Was he married or have other Legal Residents in the home? And did they actually OWN THE WEAPONS?
    We just had a case out here in Washington where the guy (felon) was convicted because he had access even though the guns belonged to his wife.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/80924912.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Careful what you wish for Nova. It's very, very, easy to become a felon these days and violence is all in how it's presented.
    True, but there's too many damn things that are felonies that shouldn't be. Like if I'm dropping off my kid at school, and they fall and get hurt, if I step out of my vehicle, bam class 6 felony.


    (I don't have a kid but do want to see k-12 carry for that reason plus voting)

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    What troubles me is that the court has allowed as legal, a LEO to enter a private home for the express purpose of investigating a crime, using subterfuge and without a warrant. That would seem to run afoul of the Constitution every day of the week.
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

    Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
    Paramedics With Guns Scare People!

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramedic70002 View Post
    What troubles me is that the court has allowed as legal, a LEO to enter a private home for the express purpose of investigating a crime, using subterfuge and without a warrant. That would seem to run afoul of the Constitution every day of the week.
    I'm not disagreeing with you.

    We had a thread here a while ago about third parties observing facts that would lead them to conclude that a crime has taken place, and reporting those facts to the police. I believe the example in that thread was a car repair technician, who found a gun in a car of a known felon.

    My question is, would this be different if a real estate agent observed this same set of facts in the home and reported it? Would that be enough to obtain a warrant and go from there?

    TFred

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    Abstract what the REAL issue is

    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    I'm not disagreeing with you.

    We had a thread here a while ago about third parties observing facts that would lead them to conclude that a crime has taken place, and reporting those facts to the police. I believe the example in that thread was a car repair technician, who found a gun in a car of a known felon.

    My question is, would this be different if a real estate agent observed this same set of facts in the home and reported it? Would that be enough to obtain a warrant and go from there?

    TFred
    You guys are hilarious. Most of you are hung up on the subject of the search being an Ex-Felon.

    A few of you, including TFred, understand the underlying issue.

    As far as I can tell, the state actors did nothing wrong or illegal. I am concerned that the magistrate issued a search warrant for the ENTIRE premises. Even so, nothing unconstitutional or anything there.

    No, the main thing is how foolish it was to display your valuable stuff where everyone coming through can see it. Easy to case the joint, huh?

    I don't fault the ATF agent; good thing he wasn't a burglar. The lesson, already articulated in an earlier posting, is if you open your house to strangers for whatever reason, hide all your valuables or remove them altogether.

    Finally, altering the fact pattern, and this is what I was waiting for, if someone comes through and sees your arsenal -- and freaks out, being a hoplophobe -- and then goes to the cops and spills what she saw, then that person becomes a CI, and that would likely be enough for a warrant.

    Oh, she thought she saw machine guns and shotguns with pistol grips, and maybe suppressors -- you know, BAD stuff.

    Yes, you could be COMPLETELY innocent and still be subject to a sweeping search of your entire house.

    Fair warning.

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    Regular Member riverrat10k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nova View Post
    I'm against violent convicted felons who can't be trusted with guns being in public at all. Keep them in jail. They do their time. They're released as free and full citizens then or not at all.
    This. Either you are cool, incarcerated forever, or executed. 'Nuff said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by riverrat10k View Post
    This. Either you are cool, incarcerated forever, or executed. 'Nuff said.
    Parole. I think it's a valid reason for a felon to be out, but not have his full citizenship/rights restored yet. Once his parole is completed satisfactorily, he gets everything back.

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    Regular Member VAopencarry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramedic70002 View Post
    What troubles me is that the court has allowed as legal, a LEO to enter a private home for the express purpose of investigating a crime, using subterfuge and without a warrant. That would seem to run afoul of the Constitution every day of the week.

    +10!!!!

    I don't know how a court could decide their entry was lawful. So cops can pose as a repairman or anything else to go snooping around your house? The fact the guy was, in fact, guilty doesn't matter. Their entry was not Constitutional.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkad View Post
    Parole. I think it's a valid reason for a felon to be out, but not have his full citizenship/rights restored yet. Once his parole is completed satisfactorily, he gets everything back.
    Not in Virginia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VAopencarry View Post
    +10!!!!

    I don't know how a court could decide their entry was lawful. So cops can pose as a repairman or anything else to go snooping around your house? The fact the guy was, in fact, guilty doesn't matter. Their entry was not Constitutional.
    Can you cite how it was not constitutional? The felon consented to letting strangers into his house to check it out on the market. There was no sign with terms of the consent stating law enforcement was not allowed. Let me ask you this, do you think undercover cops posing as drug buyers to get into crack houses is unconstitutional? It's basically the same thing. If you consent for someone to come in... that's legal.

    Like mentioned above, the police only did this because they were investigating this guy in the first place. No LEO will dress like repair men just to snoop into random houses, come on it's not a govt. conspiracy out there.
    Last edited by NovaCop10; 11-26-2010 at 10:57 AM.

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