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Old November 29, 2009, 12:22 AM   #26
cptsplashdown
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Once again, I think the logic is faulty. The fact is you need a license to drive a car, but that doesn't mean that being in possession of a car constitutes probable cause for an officer to start an investigation simply because driving a car is illegal without a license. Just doesn't add up to me. Being in possession of a legally owned weapon that would be illegal without a license would appear to be a similar situation. LEOs can't pull you over just for driving a car on the premise that not everyone has a license, so why would they rock up on you at the range and start investigating? The burden of proof is in fact usually on the LEO to prove that a crime has been committed, aka: the presumption of innocence. Yet many seem quite willing to subject themselves to what may be an illegal search and seizure with nary a thought to their constitutional rights, all to make their lives a bit less stressful. Sorry I just think differently.
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Old November 29, 2009, 12:35 AM   #27
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strikes me as a bit easier to merely keep a copy of the NFA documentation in your range bag or gun case and avoid a sticky mess.

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Old November 29, 2009, 12:42 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cptsplashdown
...The fact is you need a license to drive a car, but that doesn't mean that being in possession of a car constitutes probable cause for an officer to start an investigation simply because driving a car is illegal without a license....
Bad analogy. The car itself isn't illegal without something else. But if the car doesn't have current registration tags, that's another matter.

In the case of, for example, a machine gun, you are openly holding an object which is inherently illegal to possess, unless certain non-obvious conditions have been satisfied. It is, effectively, presumptively illegal. You, and only you, can show that you are in lawful possession of this item, and only by showing the proper paperwork.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cptsplashdown
...The burden of proof is in fact usually on the LEO to prove that a crime has been committed, aka: the presumption of innocence....
No, an LEO doesn't need to prove that a crime has been committed, and that you did it, in order to legally arrest you. He only needs probable cause. The presumption of innocence arises in the court room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cptsplashdown
...Yet many seem quite willing to subject themselves to what may be an illegal search and seizure with nary a thought to their constitutional rights,...
This is not about a search. You have in your possession, in plain sight, an object which is contraband unless you have some paperwork to show that you have gone through the hoops necessary to lawfully possess it. An LEO doesn't have to assume that you have gone through those hoops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cptsplashdown
...Sorry I just think differently.
Perhaps, but how you think really doesn't matter. What matters is how judges think. I know something about that, because knowing such things is how I made my living for over 30 years.
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Old November 29, 2009, 12:44 AM   #29
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We have here an example of an argumentative person simply trying to impress us with his knowledge of the law. I suggest that if he tries out some of those arguments on a police officer, he just might be spending some time in jail. Maybe for telling a police officer that he has no authority to check the license of a person driving a car.

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Old November 29, 2009, 12:54 AM   #30
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Thanks for your support Jim. In fact, I gave no argument at all to the gentleman that approached me at the range. I simply went out in search of an answer to why someone would attempt to accuse me of a "violation" that I didn't commit. In case you missed it, this is a forum where people make posts to discover answers, learn about issues, and make comments exactly like the ones being made here. I made no statements about any impressive knowledge I have about the law, and in fact none of the other comments with the exception of AK have actually attempted to even address my original question. All fine by me because I enjoy a good discussion (or in your vernacular "argument") about these very important issues that relate to all of our rights as citizens. I don't agree with the suggestion that I should have to submit to this search, and in fact reading AK's link appears to show that I am correct. However, if you don't enjoy the thread or have anything to contribute, feel free not to post at all. I for one have enjoyed and learned from every other post here except yours.
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Old November 29, 2009, 01:01 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Keenan
...Maybe for telling a police officer that he has no authority to check the license of a person driving a car.
Just for the record, it wasn't I who suggested that a police office wouldn't have the authority to check the license of a person driving a car.
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Old November 29, 2009, 01:07 AM   #32
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And Jim, I don't know you from Adam and certainly wouldn't go out of my way to "impress" you even if I did. Glad to know you think yourself worthy of the effort though. Amicalement.
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Old November 29, 2009, 01:27 AM   #33
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I think what ppl are saying to the OP is that regardless of what the technical legality of it is, a range officer or police officer can still give you a bad day for not having the paperwork along for the ride. The range officer can kick you out regardless since most businesses reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Many well-intentioned police have and still do arrest people for things that technically are not illegal.

Some people have posted what the federal laws are, but how badly do you want to be right? Are you willing to take it to the mat and possibly shell out legal fees to defend yourself if you are wrongfully arrested? If so, more power to ya, though you should be consulting an attorney to make certain of your legal standing not an internet forum if thats the case. Me, I can't afford to make those kinds of stands, so I pick my battles a bit more carefully. I have a lot of respect though for those that can and do take that extra step to defend our rights.
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Old November 29, 2009, 01:35 AM   #34
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Well thanks to all who contributed to the discussion. I am totally in agreement that there are ways to deal with the reality of the situation that can make your life a lot easier, however I also don't see a problem with engaging any range or law enforcement authority over the specific legal aspects of NFA laws. I think if I had been able to speak more clearly to the exact nature of the statute earlier today, I might have saved myself, the RSO, and many other customers from future unnecessary complications. Perhaps not only carrying copies of your NFA paperwork to satisfy authorities in that instance, along with a copy of the NFA law relating to the inspection of such weapons would be the best solution. Particular thanks to the LE guys who gave their personal perspectives and thoughts. Regards and happy hunting.
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Old November 29, 2009, 01:42 AM   #35
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FWIW, this is what BATF has to say on the issue:
Quote:
(M25) Does the owner of a registered NFA firearm have to have any evidence to show it is registered lawfully to him or her?

Yes. The approved application received from ATF serves as evidence of registration of the NFA firearm in the owner's name. This document must be kept available for inspection by ATF officers. It is suggested that a photocopy of the approved application be carried by the owner when the weapon is being transported.
http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/faq2.htm#m25
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Old November 29, 2009, 01:42 AM   #36
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The point is that it ultimately falls upon a citizen to prove that they are indeed legal. Most if not all states have a law that a person must present a drivers license if it is demanded by a police officer. I know your argument is that an officer can check it in the computer, but what happens if the computer is down? An officer now cannot check if you indeed have a license, but the law says you must have a license on you, guess who gets a ticket.

In Nevada, NRS 202.350 states in part: or expose for sale, or give, lend, possess or use a machine gun or a silencer, unless authorized by federal law. Short barreled weapons have a similar clause.

Now back to my point, without a system for an officer to check, it is up to the person to show they have permission by the feds. If you get caught with marijuana, do you really think an officer is going to assume you have a medical permit for it? It is a law of numbers; NFA weapons are rare when compared to the numerous illegal weapons out there.

I pull over alot of cars at work, but I rarely give people any tickets. I am a supervisor and have other things to worry about, but feel a duty to at least stop an offender for an obvious violation in front of a marked police vehicle. If the person cooperates and has no warrants, a clean record and a good attitude, they usually get a warning. But with a NFA weapon like yours, there is a ton of liability for an officer. If that weapon was used in a mass shooting and it was learned that it had been examined by the police earlier and it could not proven it was legal at the time and released anyways, that officers career and financial future are over.

Owning an NFA is a privilege, not a right. It is up to you to prove you are allowed to have it.
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Old November 29, 2009, 01:45 AM   #37
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This was a great thread to read just waking up. To the OP, honestly, I feel you 100% and would be asking the same questions as you. I probably would have addressed those questions to the RO before leaving as well, but then, that could have very well escalated things and made it more an issue. In that respect he was doing you a favor by just asking you to leave.

In hindsight, and to anyone who reads this, it's in all our best interest just to keep a copy of the documents with the weapon, saves everyone a headache
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Old November 29, 2009, 02:05 AM   #38
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Quote:
Willie Lowman: ...Technically only an ATF agent has the authority to hassle you over your NFA item ...
Not true.
Many states have their own laws regarding NFA firearms. Here in Texas, state law prohibits NFA firearms, BUT- it is "a defense to prosecution" to be in possession of a properly registered/taxed NFA firearm. It's a weird Texas thing, meaning you "could" be arrested, but not prosecuted. Most police officers know what "defense to prosecution" means, but I'm sure there are some who do not.

Remember the old saying: "You might beat the rap, but you won't beat the ride".

I have an Inglis Hi Power with detachable shoulder stock/holster. It would be a SBR under the NFA, but was removed due to it's curio & relic status. I keep a copy of the C&R reference that exempts it from the NFA as well as a copy of the ATF Technical Branch letter authorizing the stock holster- both folded and stoed inside the stock.
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Old November 29, 2009, 02:11 AM   #39
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The fact is you need a license to drive a car, but that doesn't mean that being in possession of a car constitutes probable cause for an officer to start an investigation simply because driving a car is illegal without a license.
This is a poor analogy. You don't need a license to possess a car, only to drive one. So you are correct that it wouldn't be right for an officer to investigate you for possessing a car without a license. On the other hand you DO need paperwork to possess an NFA item, so if an officer thought you were in possession of an NFA item (as in he looks over and sees you with one) and you fail to present the documentation showing that you are in legal possession then he has every right to arrest you.
Quote:
Bill, how can a local cop arrest me if I'm not breaking the law?
Ok, here's an analogous situation.

A guy attacks me with a pistol and I am left with absolutely no alternative but to shoot him to prevent him from seriously injuring or killing me. When he falls, dead, from my shot, his pistol slips from his hand and into a storm drain. There are no witnesses.

When the officer arrives he asks me what happened but I exercise my legal right to remain silent and I do not speak to him at all.

Now, I have not broken the law, (just as you haven't broken the law) but still any law enforcement officer with jurisdiction has every right to arrest me.

He can arrest me for the same reason he can arrest you--because in both your case and mine all the evidence points toward the fact that a crime has been committed. In my case murder, in your case illegal posession of an NFA item without the proper paperwork.

In both cases we can prove our innocence and probably avoid arrest, but in both cases we're shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot by withholding the pertinent evidence from the officer.
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Old November 29, 2009, 02:11 AM   #40
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There is an old saying in LE- "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride."
I'm not saying it's illegal for you to not have a copy of your paperwork. I don't know if it is or not. I AM saying to not have it is imprudent, at best.
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Old November 29, 2009, 02:33 AM   #41
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There is an old saying in LE- "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride." Exactly what my friend told me as we left the range Bill. Excellent points gents, and well taken. Of course in the future I will be carrying copies of these docs with me. I'm glad to see and hope that all understood my interest in the finer points of the law in terms of what the law actually requires vs. what you may run into out in the real world. I can certainly understand any LEOs concern with illegal weapons on the field of play. I suppose we could all forget to bring our paperwork with us at one time or another and I think it worth exploring the potential consequences as well as understanding what your actual obligations are under the law. My question about "how can an officer arrest you..." should probably have read "why would an officer arrest you...", assuming he understood that you were not in fact in violation of any law. Certainly any officer CAN arrest you, I more specifically was thinking of whether or not you SHOULD be arrested given this particular set of circumstances (having a legally registered weapon at the range, but having the paperwork at home.) I would liken this to the fact that some states that allow CCWs require that you have the license on your person, and some do not, and not having your CCW is not always a violation. It is my belief from reading AK's link and other info (http://www.titleii.com/BardwellOLD/nfa_faq.txt) that in fact simply not having the paperwork on you does not put you in violation of any federal or state law (in FL anyway.) I have not seen or read anything that would contradict my conclusion. Does that mean that I would get into a protracted argument with a LEO or RSO over this issue without any supporting documentation. Certainly not. I would however be happy to carry both my NFA paperwork, as well as a copy of several of these references, and perhaps be able to clarify the issue amidst a situation that might otherwise escalate to a confiscation and/or arrest. Great discussion and cheers again to all.
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Old November 29, 2009, 04:18 AM   #42
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I'm sure medicinal pot smokers would agree with you when they can't produce a prescription for an observant LEO who sees them getting high in the park. Would they get away with it? I seriously doubt it.

In my experience most LEO's don't want to be jerks but I would rather they hassle everyone about it than let the local hooligans run around with sbr's.

You have to admit that there is a preponderance of evidence that you are doing something wrong when you are in possession of a restricted weapon and you are unable to produce proof of its legality. I am also sure you would agree that you would rather resolve the misunderstanding with the LEO than have the ATF called. I doubt they are very tolerant of noncompliance.

Remember, when enough people think that they can justify crappy behavior by hiding behind the second amendment all gun owners suffer in the court of public opinion. You can poo poo that as much as you want but I believe we are on thin ice with the current administration as it is. You can play the martyr as much as you want but it will end up hurting us all in the end.
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Old November 29, 2009, 04:56 AM   #43
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I think you miss my point pichon. You are basically suggesting that you consider it acceptable to submit yourself to the whims of a non existent law because you believe that to resist a government agent who (for perhaps innocent reasons) is imposing an illegal restriction on you is being a "martyr." You then go on to suggest that it would be better for me to submit myself to this non existent law in order to preserve my second amendment rights. What about if an agent decides to come into your home and search it whenever he wants. This is simply an extension of your attitude. You would submit to such a search, even though there is no law permitting it, because in the end you would rather the LEO or whomever catch one or two criminals rather than respect the rights of the other 90% of the population. All well and good, and I think it just comes down to your personal philosophy. Some people are willing to sacrifice more of their personal freedoms for the security that society provides. I on the other had would rather keep my personal freedoms and provide for my own security to a certain degree. In either case, I will not be submitting myself to any illegal searches just to make life easier on anyone, yourself included (sorry,) and if that makes me a martyr so be it. I don't really believe it does, but your opinion is respected none the less, even though I respectfully see things differently.
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Old November 29, 2009, 05:06 AM   #44
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On the medicinal marijuana issue, I don't know the laws, but I would expect that the LEO that arrests someone for using drugs illegally would know the law, just as I expect anyone who would arrest me for violation of the NFA to know the respective laws relating to these weapons. The whole point of my post was that I have not been able to find any part of the NFA that would have put me in violation during my encounter at the range. Everyone has been expressing some very well thought out opinions, but no one has pointed to one word of the NFA that has made my actions illegal in any way shape or form. There is simply nothing in the NFA, or any other body of law that I have been able to find or that has been shown to me, that says unequivocally that I need to have my NFA paperwork with me at the range. So I just don't get the attitude that it is okay to be detained, arrested, or kicked off of a firing line because a law enforcement officer or civilian RSO thinks he knows the law and doesn't. To me that is a violation of my liberties, which are somewhat important to me. I'm not gang-banging in the hood mind you, I'm just at the range plinking away, and I don't believe it to be fair or legal to arrest me for forgetting a few pieces of paper.
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Old November 29, 2009, 05:58 AM   #45
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Quote:
In either case, I will not be submitting myself to any illegal searches...
What is this/these illegal search(es) you keep referring to?

Since you are openly displaying the NFA item at the range, no search is necessary to discover it.

If you're saying that being asked to present your NFA paperwork is a search, then you're under no obligation to submit to it. But if you don't you're subject to arrest--just as I am in my analogy above. NOT for failing to submit to the search but rather because if you do not present your NFA paperwork you are, in the view of the arresting officer, committing a felony by illegally possessing NFA items. Just as in my analogy I am not subject to arrest for failing to talk to the officer but rather because if I do not present any evidence to justify shooting my attacker I am, in the view of the arresting officer, guilty of committing murder.
Quote:
It is my belief from reading AK's link and other info (http://www.titleii.com/BardwellOLD/nfa_faq.txt) that in fact simply not having the paperwork on you does not put you in violation of any federal or state law (in FL anyway.)
Ok, for the sake of argument let's say this is true. That doesn't mean that you aren't still subject to arrest if you are found with an NFA item in your possession and can't/won't prove that you possess it legally.

Again, as demonstrated by my analogy, it is clearly possible and reasonable for an innocent person to be subject to arrest if the evidence points toward their being guilty and they decide to present nothing concrete in their defense.

What you're essentially saying is that anyone found to be carrying a handgun should be allowed to go free if they merely tell the officer that they are carrying the handgun legally. That the officer's asking them to see their permit constitutes an illegal search and that arresting them is unreasonable unless there is a law that states that they must have their permit in their possession at all times when carrying.

I'm saying that if there's no law that thay must have their permit on them at all times while carrying then they are under no obligation to present the permit. BUT if they don't they are clearly subject to arrest and such an arrest would be perfectly reasonable given that they were found apparently committing a crime and refused to present any real evidence that they were, in fact, innocent.

If that happens, they are not being arrested for failing to present their permit upon request, they're being arrested for illegally carrying a handgun.
Quote:
You are basically suggesting that you consider it acceptable to submit yourself to the whims of a non existent law...
The agent isn't enforcing a non-existent law, he's merely asking you if you have any concrete evidence that you're innocent of the crime of illegally possessing NFA items.

If you won't or can't present the evidence then he's not arresting you for failing to present your papers, (for failing to submit to a non-existent law, if you will), he's arresting you for illegally possessing NFA items.
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Old November 29, 2009, 06:01 AM   #46
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splashdown, You are failing to take state law into account, it is what the officer will be approaching you will be basing his actions on( not federal).
I have been a NFA dealer, NFA owner, AND a Peace Officer.

Knowing full well the ins and outs....I too would take a Person in, if the situation warrented it. (based on State Law, which is what Peace Officers enforce for the most part) A registered machinegun or suppressor can be stolen, and in the wrong hands( my father had a couple of MG's stolen and were recovered after 6 years) Or in the hands of a person other than the registered owner.

That form 4 may endeed be a tax document, but if its the only thing showing
that you arent commiting a felony under state law...you might want to show it.
A gun range, being private property...and you being there is at the owners descression, you also must conform with thier policy.


A registered MG looks much the same as a unregistered one.....a stolen one, looks much the same as when shouldered by its registered owner, just as medical marijuana looks much like the illegal kind( and when you have either your MG or your doobie in public, you are probley going to have to show you can legally possess that item at some point, or prove it to a judge after your strip search) If its misery you wish to cause yourself because your beliefs dont match the legal system, Misery you shall end up with.
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Old November 29, 2009, 06:04 AM   #47
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I am not saying I disagree with your principals, just your methods. Anti-gun nuts already think we are all anti-authoritarian. Arguing the law with range officers and LEO's just affirms that belief.

What I am trying to say, and perhaps not very well, is that the range officer and the policeman are convenient if you want to debate the law with someone at the range but aside from making you feel better it wont do you any good.

Present your paperwork and then go home and make a phone call or send an email to the appropriate official or range manager saying that their employees are overstepping their bounds if you feel you must.

In my opinion, when the line between legal and illegal is so unclear, make sure that you are unquestionably on the correct side, especially if it is as simple as making a photocopy.
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Old November 29, 2009, 08:54 AM   #48
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Quote:
Owning an NFA is a privilege, not a right.
I disagree. While they would have preferred to relieve us of that right, I believe the NFA was the only way that they could "legally" try to ban the weapons in question. But that pesky Constitution and the 2nd Amendment got in the way.

The NFA was basically an end run around it, and "tax" was how it was accomplished. They never said you couldnt own one, you simply have to pay the tax on the item. The fact that the tax was $200, at the time a new car cost $500, and most people only made a few dollars a week, has been lost in these times, where $200 isnt that big a deal.
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Old November 29, 2009, 09:27 AM   #49
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Whoa... didn't Don H answer this quite well????

FWIW, this is what BATF has to say on the issue:
Quote:
(M25) Does the owner of a registered NFA firearm have to have any evidence to show it is registered lawfully to him or her?

Yes. The approved application received from ATF serves as evidence of registration of the NFA firearm in the owner's name. This document must be kept available for inspection by ATF officers. It is suggested that a photocopy of the approved application be carried by the owner when the weapon is being transported.
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Old November 29, 2009, 10:37 AM   #50
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I dont think you are going to find that one piece of definitive language that states You Do Not have to carry your paper work with you at all times.

The fact is this, not every Lawyer, Law Officer or Judge is totally versed in every article of every law ever written...especially on the spot of the momemt without any reference material and legal book searching.

You may be in the right 100% to carry your firearm without any paperwork, but in reality where there is a Lot of Gray area, you may be confronted and challenged on this. You being in the right, will not win you any lawsuites in my opinion if your rights are violated. Too many killings and sympathy would be enough for the Courtroom to vendicate someone for violating your rights on the side of caution. Sure, you could fight this and take this to a new level, but it would take more money than anyone combined on this forum for such a fight in this new age USA that we live in.
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