We hold that the examination permitted by Penal Code section 171e and section 12031, subdivision (c) is constitutional and does not violate the Fourth Amendment. In the first place, the examination of the weapon [11 Cal. App. 3d 792] may hardly be deemed to be a search at all. The chamber of a gun is not the proper or usual receptacle for anything but a bullet or a shell. The loading of a gun simply affects the condition of the weapon by making it immediately useful for firing.
The ammunition becomes, as it were, part of the gun. There is nothing private or special or secret about a bullet. The use of the word "examine" in the statutes instead of the word "search" is not at all a devious one. In examining the weapon, the officers are not attempting to find some kind of contraband which is unrelated to the gun itself.
But if the examination may be called a search, it is not an unreasonable one; and only unreasonable searches are forbidden by the Fourth Amendment. (Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 [20 L.Ed.2d 889, 88 S.Ct. 1868].) It is, as we have said, limited to a single purpose.
It does not have about it any except the slightest element of embarrassment or annoyance, elements overbalanced by far by the purpose of preventing violence or threats of violence. The minimal intrusion does not begin to approach the indignity of the frisk, as graphically described in Terry v. Ohio, supra, at p. 17, fn. 13 [20 L.Ed.2d at p. 903]. It is true that the frisk, as sustained in the Terry case, requires as justification something different than mere possession of a firearm in a proscribed place, but it requires a good deal less than cause for arrest
...Bearing in mind that a state is free, as Chief Justice Warren put it, "to develop its own law of search and seizure to meet the needs of local law enforcement," provided, of course, that the Fourth Amendment standard of reasonableness be not offended (Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 60-61 [20 L.Ed.2d 917, 933-934, 88 S.Ct. 1889]), we hold that the mere examination of a weapon which is brought into a place where it is [11 Cal. App. 3d 793] forbidden to have a loaded weapon, is not unreasonable and that the statutes authorizing such examination are constitutional.