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Old April 15, 2009, 05:23 AM   #1
SPRINGERFANATIC
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Help me out, Texas gun laws

I need help understanding if this officer went out of bounds.

I was on my way back from the Garland public shooting range going down the highway when my radar detector went off. I wasn't speeding and made sure to stay the speed limit as I passed the officer who was on the shoulder. I saw him enter the highway and sure enough a few moments later he pulled me over. As soon as he got to my window I courteously informed him that I was leaving the range about 2 miles back and had some guns in the car. He told me he stopped me for speeding (which is BS) and for no front license place (got me there). He instructed me to exit the vehicle and began questioning me about how many guns I had and told me he needed to remove them and run the serial numbers. I questioned him and told him I wasn't sure he could do that with out my consent. He told me it was policy and I asked If I could make a phone call "to my lawyer brother" and he told me I could not. I sat there on the side of the highway for 25 minutes as he searched my car and removed all 7 guns I had with me and wrote down the serial numbers. After running the numbers he declared "looks like their legal" and dismissed me. Was this officer out of lines? I just feel like he was kind of over stepping his boundaries especially with the updates to the traveling law in Texas...

Thanks for your input.
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Old April 15, 2009, 07:14 AM   #2
Ruthless4christ
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No way I would have stayed on the side of the road for half an hour without making a phone call! He wants to arrest me for that no problem. Last I checked you cant arrest someone for a missing front plate. I hope you goy his badge number.
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Old April 15, 2009, 09:35 AM   #3
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I wouldn't have said a dang thing about the firearms if they were legally carried... Unless of course one was in the glove box with my registration...
I also would have refused the search as no probable cause had been detected... Once you refuse they bring the dope dog and walk it around the car. Once the dog is out of your sight on the blind side the "handler" may tell his buddy who is keeping an eye on you, "the dog alerted" and then they will search... Least that is a tactic used in Polk County Florida
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Old April 15, 2009, 09:37 AM   #4
Shorts
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Quote:
I need help understanding if this officer went out of bounds.

I was on my way back from the Garland public shooting range going down the highway when my radar detector went off. I wasn't speeding and made sure to stay the speed limit as I passed the officer who was on the shoulder. I saw him enter the highway and sure enough a few moments later he pulled me over. As soon as he got to my window I courteously informed him that I was leaving the range about 2 miles back and had some guns in the car. He told me he stopped me for speeding (which is BS) and for no front license place (got me there). He instructed me to exit the vehicle and began questioning me about how many guns I had and told me he needed to remove them and run the serial numbers. I questioned him and told him I wasn't sure he could do that with out my consent. He told me it was policy and I asked If I could make a phone call "to my lawyer brother" and he told me I could not. I sat there on the side of the highway for 25 minutes as he searched my car and removed all 7 guns I had with me and wrote down the serial numbers. After running the numbers he declared "looks like their legal" and dismissed me. Was this officer out of lines? I just feel like he was kind of over stepping his boundaries especially with the updates to the traveling law in Texas...

Thanks for your input.

Well, I'd contact a lawyer and have a chat. If you were not CHLing then you have no duty to inform (not accounting for current legislation in progress). Merely traveling and even car carry does not require you inform.

I would not have volunteered information, rather, answered directly when asked, especially in regards to the contents of my vehicle. I'd guess the LEO would have asked you where you were coming from/where you are going. But I'd let him decide to ask if I had any firearms in the car.

This isn't the first post I've read about TX LEOs making stops and running serial numbers. He did pull you over for no license plate. But a lawyer (and past cases) can tell you whether or not they can get to searching your car and running serial numbers.

My personal thoughts, while as a firearm owner who's been burglarized and had 2 guns recovered in traffic stops by LEOs, I am glad they were found. But, I'm not in favor of these roadside searches and running serial numbers. There is not registration in Texas so they are not checking to see if "they're registered properly"...The line you got fed about "they're legal" isn't proper. They're more than likely checking to see if they're stolen.

Talk to a lawyer.
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Old April 15, 2009, 09:39 AM   #5
Glenn E. Meyer
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Google the ACLU bust card for a good PDF on stops.
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Old April 15, 2009, 12:54 PM   #6
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I would have told the officer, "You do not have my permission to search my vehicle" and left it at that. He had no probable cause for a search.

And, really, that IS exactly what I would have done, I am not blowing smoke.

If you told him you were picking up a tv set from the repair shop would he have "run the numbers" on that?

Also +1 on the advice of not informing of the legal transportation of firearms, it's none of his business.
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Old April 15, 2009, 02:04 PM   #7
SPRINGERFANATIC
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I told him multiple times I'm not consenting to the search. I did get his badge number. I thought about not telling him about the firearms but my buddy in the car (a Recon Marine) told me it would be best to do so :-(. I know there are some officers on this forum and I try to give most officers the benefit of the doubt but this is the 3rd time in the past 2 month a Texas LEO has given me a hard time. I was questioned a few weeks ago for parking in a spot on the side of a gas station... I'm clean cut and drive a dark green sedan so I'm guessing its because I'm only 20. Us college kids are always up to no good.
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Old April 15, 2009, 03:05 PM   #8
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Since no charges were filed against you, there's probably nothing you can do. IMHO you supplied probably cause when you informed him that you had firearms in the car. In addition to what's already been said, here are a few thoughts:

1) When you are pulled over, you should honestly answer any questions the officer asks about the reason for the stop, but you should politely refuse to volunteer detailed information about items in the vehicle that aren't in plain sight, no matter what they are. ("What's in the trunk?" "Personal items.") If the officer asks to do a search, politely decline and ask to see a warrant. If the officer orders you to submit to a search anyway, don't try to argue; step aside and let him or her do it while making it clear that you didn't consent. If you are arrested and/or charged later, the legality of the search can be debated in court. FWIW I would make one exception to this: if you have a gun in the glove compartment, tell the officer before you open it to get your registration.

2) If you have a TX CHL, you are legally required to present your license to the officer when he or she asks for your ID, and he or she is allowed to disarm you.* The officer is required to give you your handgun(s) back at the conclusion of the traffic stop if you aren't arrested. However, the law says "disarm", i.e. take away weapons within reach; it's not carte blanche for the officer to search the car and empty it of all firearms. When in doubt, follow the advise in #1 above.

3) Never ever give law enforcement a prepackaged reason to pull you over. Translation: Put a front license plate on your vehicle.

BTW I go to the Garland Public Shooting Range frequently and I'm familiar with the area; was this a DPS officer on the Bush Turnpike? I'm just curious.

Mandatory disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. This is not official legal advice. YMMV.

*The disarmament provision of TX CHL law partially contradicts the law passed in the last legislative session allowing vehicle carry by non-CHL holders under certain conditions; it is widely expected to be repealed during the current legislative session, but AFAIK it still stands as of today.
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Old April 15, 2009, 03:19 PM   #9
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I never heard that admission of possession of firearms was probable cause for search. But I am just a redneck so I ain't so sure about that.
I do know that the deputies that showed up to investigate a claim of automatic firearms shooting at my home and here is how that discussion went.
Quote:
I find some humor in this but....
several months ago I had been shooting my Ruger MKIII pistol. My 18 year old son asked how fast DO you have to fire one to jam it? I put in a mag and with one hand held it and with the other I flicked off 10 rounds with out fail and did it with a few more mags and he was impressed with the reliability. well the next day a deputy showed up to ask me about full auto weapons and if I had been firing full auto at my home. I said no and prodded him for more info about the complaint. He told me it was the previous day and I put 2 and 2 together and told him about my pistol shooting and had tons of spent brass laying about. I asked if he would like to "SEE" the pistol in question and that I could "DEMONSTRATE" the source of the concern the complainant had heard. He was hesitant but I informed him my pistol wasn't leaving nor were any officers entering my home without a warrant. He said he would get a supervisor on the radio. Shortly after while we chit chatted and I showed him my home made 60 yard range his super arrived. They talked and decided I could bring it out... "EMPTY AND OPEN PLEASE" I did and they looked it over and I handed each a mag full and they popped off rounds and tried to find a secret lever to go full auto and when each had finished I re loaded both mags and said... try it FAST! They both did and I loaded a mag and fired as I had the day before. Man they got a grin that was priceless! They told me that it sure sounded full auto to them and they would inform the complainant no to worry and then asked if it was souped up or hot rodded in any way? I told them no And I think one had already done the math to be sure he could afford one! Love the rural life and rural LEO's seem to be much more laid back too!
As far as I know probable cause is required similarly for home and auto...
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Old April 15, 2009, 03:32 PM   #10
Bartholomew Roberts
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How would informing the officer you have firearms in the car create probable cause? Owning and transporting firearms is perfectly legal - absent additional circumstances, what crime would the officer have probable cause to suspect? There might be some Terry stop issues that would allow the officer to disarm the poster for the officer's protection; but even that seems thin to me.

If you are asking what to do about this event, I would recommend talking to a lawyer since it really isn't possible to give much of an answer based on the facts you have stated.

If you are asking what to do in the future then the ACLU link is a good resource.
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Old April 15, 2009, 07:10 PM   #11
craiggu
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I was pulled over about two weeks ago after a range trip. I was speeding, I had two guns in my trunk, the officer didn't ask anything and I didn't say anything. So I just got my ticket and left.
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Old April 15, 2009, 07:14 PM   #12
carguychris
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Quote:
How would informing the officer you have firearms in the car create probable cause?
I should have been more clear. I meant to say a pretense of probable cause.
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Old April 15, 2009, 08:01 PM   #13
SPRINGERFANATIC
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BTW I go to the Garland Public Shooting Range frequently and I'm familiar with the area; was this a DPS officer on the Bush Turnpike? I'm just curious.
It was on Bush but it was a State Trooper.
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Old April 15, 2009, 08:47 PM   #14
hogdogs
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I thought Texas "troopers" were actually "DPS"?
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Old April 15, 2009, 09:15 PM   #15
Shorts
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DPS are Troopers
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Old April 16, 2009, 08:34 AM   #16
carguychris
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DPS are Troopers
+1. (+2?) Department of Public Safety officers are the state troopers in Texas.

In fact, the DPS recently began marking their vehicles with the words "STATE TROOPER" in big letters on the fenders. I've always wondered if this move is meant to inform motorists from other states that these guys are indeed the state police, and not health inspectors or something.
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Old April 16, 2009, 05:51 PM   #17
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I havent seen one of the dps cars that say state troopers
Then again I live in Austin and there is more leo here then just about anywhere

Rangers
DPS
Apd
County sherriffs
county constables
tabc
lcra
austin school dictrict pd
and I am sure I am missing a few
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Old April 19, 2009, 03:16 PM   #18
Michael Anthony
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According to the story as you posted it and absent any facts left out, he had no grounds to search the vehicle without consent. It would be reasonable to have you exit the car and move away from it and secure any weapons on your person.

He conducted a search of your vehicle and a seizure of you and your property extending beyond the scope of the traffic stop in order to check the serial numbers of your guns. For this to be legal, he would have to be able to show that guns transported in vehicles are more often stolen than not. This would give him probable cause to believe that the guns you are transporting are stolen. I doubt that he could prove that to be true though, unless Garland is rougher than I remember

Otherwise he would need to be able to "articulate" the "facts" that gave him probable cause to believe you were transporting illegal guns. The fact that you were transporting guns was not enough (unless that was in itself, illegal).

Bear in mind when I use the term "legal" I am referring to Constitutional law. There are plenty of illegal state laws out there.
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Old April 20, 2009, 10:09 AM   #19
SPRINGERFANATIC
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Thanks for all the advice and info. I’m not too upset as I did not get a ticket I was just afraid it was routine for officers to do this (as in a policy or law). Sounds like this is a rare occurrence. As soon as I get some free time I’m going to file a complaint.
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Old April 20, 2009, 04:08 PM   #20
Michael Anthony
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Quote:
I was just afraid it was routine for officers to do this (as in a policy or law).
It is commonplace for law enforcement officers to be compelled to do things that are illegal. Sometimes it is an agency policy, sometimes it is an order from a superior. Other common, but more evanescent motivation comes from peer pressure or general frustration at being unable to fight crime without conducting illegal searches and seizures.

He may or may not have been telling the truth when he said it was policy and his decision to abridge your Fourth Amendment rights could have come from any of the above factors.

Make the complaint right away. If you wait or delay it will give the impression the matter is not important to you (I'm assuming it is). According to your initial post, your Constitutional rights were abridged.
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Old April 20, 2009, 07:31 PM   #21
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FYI...it is entirely legal in Texas for anyone legally entitled to own a firearm to keep a handgun, loaded or not, in the glove box - CHL not needed. It's also legal for anyone legally entitled to own a firearm to keep a long gun, loaded or not, anywhere in the vehicle.
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Old April 21, 2009, 04:11 PM   #22
SPRINGERFANATIC
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Yeah Im aware of the traveling law update that took place a few years back. I even told the officer this. As soon as I find that warning paper he gave me I'm filing a complaint.
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