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Old June 4, 2010, 05:07 AM   #1
bsik72
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Situational question CA law

Hello. This is my first post but I've recieved tons of insight from this forum.

A few months ago, there was a shooting in Los Angeles and a friend of mine witnessed the shooter as he escaped so he stayed until the police arrived. He said to the officer in a joking matter that if he had a gun, he would have shot the assailant.

The officer said yeah he should. My friend responded that he doesn't have a conceiled carry license, nor would he be able to get one anyway but the officer replied "as long as it's owned legally, if you happen to have it in your car, go ahead." My friend implied that since you're trying to deter further harm to others, it's justified.

As I understand, I see two violations. One being that you can only transfer your handgun and/or ammunition to and from home and a range/firearms dealer. Two, well if you don't have a conceiled carry license, the fiream must not exit the vehicle for any other reason.

That's just gyst of it. I hope it's enough details to work with. What are your opinions? Does the officer's statement hold water? I'd definitely like some hard evidence to back this up (like news articles or actual legislation) but two cents are fine too.
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Old June 4, 2010, 08:32 AM   #2
Don H
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Another point: Does California law allow the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of someone who has likely committed a felony? In other words, if your friend shot and killed some guy running away from the scene of a felony, would your friend be facing murder charges? In many states he would be.
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Old June 4, 2010, 10:56 AM   #3
LordTio3
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I agree with the cop. And it is what I would do if I lived in California.

That being said... the cop isn't going to be the one behind the hi-profile arrest. The District Attorney will be. It really doesn't matter what the police officer thinks is justified, it matters what the DA believes is or isn't in accordance with legal precedent and standing legislation. If you broke the law and someone is dead because of it... you still may very well be going to jail... with everyone thanking you sincerely for it.

Just some food for thought.
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Old June 4, 2010, 11:18 AM   #4
rattletrap1970
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Never get legal advice from a cop..
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Old June 4, 2010, 11:53 AM   #5
Frank Ettin
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First, I agree that it's not a good idea to take off-the-cuff legal advice from an LEO. It is, after all, off-the-cuff, and therefore not even fully thought out. In addition, there can be too many situation unique variables. In these kinds of things the details often matter.

Second, in the kind of situation you've hinted at, there are two potential issue: was the gun legally in your possession; and was the use of lethal force justified. It's possible to be justified in your use of lethal force and therefore be exonerated on a shooting charge. But you could still be convicted on a weapons charge.

Bernie Goetz is the poster boy for that result. He shot some guys trying to rob him, but his gun wasn't licensed as required in NYC. So he was acquitted of assault, because his use of the gun was justified self defense. But he went to jail on the weapons charge.
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Old June 4, 2010, 01:31 PM   #6
GunsAreGood
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I do not think this cop's statement is correct. The first thing that came to mind is if he was fleeing the scene that most likely means you would have to shoot him in the back of his body somewhere. It is to my understanding that even in a home invasion situation that if you shoot someone in the back that means they are fleeing and no longer a direct threat to you. You would be charged with murder and will be put in jail. If I am incorrect please set me straight. I would not get involved with a fleeing suspect unless they became a direct threat. Not in California at least.
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Old June 4, 2010, 02:18 PM   #7
Don H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GunsAreGood
It is to my understanding that even in a home invasion situation that if you shoot someone in the back that means they are fleeing and no longer a direct threat to you.
Laws on this would vary from state to state. There are some circumstances where shooting someone in the back could be justified here in Utah.
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Old June 4, 2010, 02:24 PM   #8
Wagonman
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+1 Rattletrap.

Ultimately, your actions are between you and your conscience and unfortunately the legal system
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Old June 5, 2010, 04:09 AM   #9
bsik72
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Excellent points. I forget sometimes that being a cop doesn't necessarily mean they're experts in law. It would just break my heart if I had to just watch a criminal committing murder while my gun is in my general posession.

Taking a shot at a guy while he's running away in a densely populated location would also be a bad idea come to think of it just because of damage that can be done to persons and property. But I have heard about the law that doesn't allow you to shoot someone in the back. I think it's completely stupid especially if they were armed.
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Old June 5, 2010, 09:12 AM   #10
wally626
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Quote:
Taking a shot at a guy while he's running away in a densely populated location would also be a bad idea come to think of it just because of damage that can be done to persons and property. But I have heard about the law that doesn't allow you to shoot someone in the back. I think it's completely stupid especially if they were armed.
I do not think it is so much you cannot shoot someone in the back with justification, it is just that meeting the normal standards for use of deadly force is going to be much tougher to demonstrate. A person running away is seldom going to be a threat to you. A person standing in front of you with their back turned about to shoot someone else, you may have plenty of justification to shoot them in the back in order to stop the death of someone else.
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Old June 5, 2010, 10:17 AM   #11
HarrySchell
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It revolves around whether the perp appears reasonably to be a threat or not. Someone running down the street firing at random would likely be fair game.

CA law on home invasion is that the invader is presumed to be there with intent to harm occupants. That said, "shooting to kill" is not acceptable if you fire and the perp clearly is no longer a threat...you can't walk over and cap him to save the state money for his trial. If he dies later, so be it. When threat ceases, you need to stop shooting, and this is pretty standard law IIRC in most states, also applies to a street situation. Note that CA law applies to your "abode". That might be an RV, a tent or hotel room, or place of business. You can carry concealed in those areas, also.

In CA the family of a perp can sue you in civil court for wrongful death or other "offenses" related to the shooting. Keeps the lawyers busy. So it would be good to be fairly careful in other than a clear threat situation.

You can carry a weapon in your car if the arm is in a locked case and ammo is separate. Both can be in the same bag, as long as the arm is locked up. "Assault weapons" are under a strict policy of to/from the range and home, but other arms are not.

A guy was rolled at LAX last year. His arms/ammo were properly secured in his truck, he had his "papers" (heh), etc. but he was arrested and his arms seized because he was not en route to/from the range and home. He spent a day in the can, as I recall, and after that the coverage went away, so I dunno what finally happened. He was clearly no threat to anyone, but some CA LEO's are really hot to disarm people anytime they can, and being at an airport, blah, blah.

Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6, but doing the right thing still can pull you through a legal knothole, in additon to all the other angst. It all depends...
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Old June 5, 2010, 03:14 PM   #12
GunsAreGood
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Quote:
Laws on this would vary from state to state. There are some circumstances where shooting someone in the back could be justified here in Utah.
Since we where talking about an incident in California and a thread named situational CA law question I guess I presumed that we where talking about CA law. I will be more clear next time. I am not trying to come off as an ass to you either I will honestly be more clear next time.
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Old June 5, 2010, 03:58 PM   #13
Don H
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GunsAreGood,

No problem. I have to admit that the Bernie Goetz reference was still bouncing around in my mind when I posted (I'm easliy distracted).
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