FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

Tactical Pants - Galls
A popular choice for public safety professionals, the Galls Tactical Pants are...

Top News

Ariz. Court: Police Can Seize Guns During Stops

August 01, 2013  | 

Arizona police can take custody of a subject's gun for officer-safety reasons even if the person's contact with the officer was voluntary, an appellate court has ruled.

The new ruling, which comes from the Court of Appeals, stems from a case of a man appealing a firearms misconduct conviction who argued Phoenix Police wrongfully took his gun, reports the Associated Press.

Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Tom Ret @ 8/1/2013 4:15 PM

The operative word here is temporary. Any more than that would be a theft if the person has a legal right to carry.

FYI @ 8/2/2013 3:06 AM

This will not likely last long. Prior rulings have said that if valuable property is taken, the contact is no longer voluntary. Hand guns often cost $300 or more; $300 is more than a week’s pay at minimum wage.
A meeting is not longer voluntarily once an officer takes their drivers license or keys. Is the meeting voluntary if they have had their firearm taken? Is a person free to leave without the firearm he/she came with? In California a licensed firearm dealer is required to transfer a weapon. Note: In the case US Vs Black is was decided that persons are required to be assumed innocent in respect to taking property until probable cause is established.

Ima Leprechaun @ 8/2/2013 7:03 AM

This court never defined what "temporary" meant. But Terry Vs Ohio does allow for a weapons pat down for officer safety even if no arrest is made. I would need to know what that court meant by "temporary" though. If Arizona or neighboring states are concealed or open carry states then I would hope once the contact is over and no arrest is made the gun would be returned to the person. Unloading the weapon prior to return would be permitted for safety reasons. Officers have to "assume" everyone to be armed in any concealed carry state or neighboring state so Officer Safety already has significant case law to back up a weapons safety search. Federal Case Law has a higher power over lower case law so any lower court ruling is irrelevant. Being armed without a permit or in violation of any Parole, Probation, Injunction or other weapons laws such as being drunk while carrying a firearm is in itself probable cause to arrest and seize the concealed weapon. But once there is no crime related to the weapon there would be no reason not to return the weapon. US V Black of which there are several on file was an appellate court decision and not Supreme Court Case Law. Poor choice of words by the arresting officer lead to confusion with the case and due his words he exceeded Terry V Ohio protection. But Terry V Ohio still stands and would have worked for him had the Officer used proper procedure.

Roadkill Bill @ 8/2/2013 9:08 AM

I anticipate this ruling being overturned by a higher court. Even Terry vs. Ohio has limitations. An officer can’t routinely search everyone for officer safety. He must articulate a reasonable belief the person being searched poses an officer safety risk. A person exercising their constitutional right to possess a firearm can’t be trumped by Terry vs. Ohio. Just the fact that a citizen possesses a firearm doesn’t provide a legitimate and reasonable belief that a person poses a safety risk to the police. If so, than this would include anything that in the manner which it is used and could cause serious bodily injury or death, would be subject to the same seizure authority. There are limitations and I don’t see this ruling surviving a challenge based on either 2nd or 4th Amendment rights violations. Would this ruling authorize the police to seize the firearms of any and all police officers on scene?
Don’t scoff at my comparison. Each of you know citizens you trust more with firearms than a few of your fellow officers.

Capt. Crunch @ 8/2/2013 9:56 AM

I would think this law would apply if a person was just drunk and not violent(one that a LEO would take to a Detox center) and had a firearm the officer would take the firearm temporary from the subject until he/she sobered up from the Detox center. This would be for officer safety and also safety for the people at the Detox center. This incident would not cause a criminal record for the subject.

Jim B. @ 8/3/2013 7:37 AM

OK people, quit trying to read more into this that is there. This ruling is simply saying that if a cop contacts you, whether voluntary or not, and knows or learns that you have a firearm, he is allowed to take possession of that firearm for the duration of the contact. It's not saying he can hold onto it for the weekend or that you have to come to the station to pick it up. When the contact is over (assuming it doesn't result in an arrest) you get the firearm back and you both go your separate ways.
"FYI", your post was interesting, but it really doesn't mean anything for this discussion. The ruling is not concerning whether the contact is voluntary or not. In fact it is saying that is doesn't matter whether the stop is voluntary or not.

Jim B. @ 8/3/2013 7:47 AM

Capt. Crunch, the situation you outline is not what this ruling was meant to address. In the scenario you list, that gun was always going to be taken from the individual. In that scenario, the subject is being taken into custody (even if it's just to the "detox center") and all of their property would be removed from their possession. This ruling is talking about situations where the individual is not being arrested and, in fact, there is no crime associated with the possession of the weapon itself. For example, you are pulled over for speeding, you have a concealed weapons permit, the officer is allowed to take your firearm from you while he is filling out the citation. He issues you your citation, returns your gun to you and you go on your way. I know there are some who will say that is unreasonable, but it's really not.

On a side note, I don't know of many jurisdictions that just have a detox center anymore. It's usually an arrest for public intox and you are booked into jail. You might be released after 8 hours or so by posting bail or on your own recognizance but it is still an arrest. The days of Andy tossing Otis into the drunk tank overnight are pretty much a thing of the past. Can't say in never happens anymore but it's pretty rare.

Capt. Crunch @ 8/3/2013 10:17 AM

@Jim B. Thanks for your input, but my scenario was based on California where placing a person in a detox center is or was not considered a arrest. Detox in California is differant than a drunk tank. Maybe I used the wrong scenario,either way I think it is a good law.

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent News

Phoenix Approves Plan to Spend Up to $750,000 on Firearms for PD
The Phoenix City Council voted unanimously to spend up to $750,000 on Glock firearms and...
Walther Issues Safety Recall for PPS M2 Pistols
Walther Arms Inc. has recently discovered a potential safety issue with certain PPS M2...

Police Magazine