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Old August 7, 2014, 03:32 PM   #1
skizzums
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serial number check when pulled over

I have a question for any law enforcement out there. when I get pulled over here in Georgia, I usually get the "do you have any guns in the car?" question. I usually just comply and they take the firearm back to the cruiser and run a serial number check. they say its to see if its in the stolen database, but do they do anything else with that info? like tag me that I carry a gun, or put a name to a specific firearm? or am I just being paranoid? I don't mind much if its just for checking if its stolen, I like hearing stories of firearms that were stolen years back and finally get returned to the owner. I have gotten pulled over after shooting with a trunkload of guns and had a cop run the numbers on ALL of them. also, the last time I handed over my pistol, the officer took all the bullets out of the magazine, whats up with that? theres no HP law here, I thought that was a little bizarre
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Old August 7, 2014, 03:50 PM   #2
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4Th. Amendment ???

Have to admit that I am mostly uninformed as to each states, laws. My impression is that it is not legal unless they ask and you give permission. In Iowa, you are not even required to show your permit unless your are asked and then, it's just the permit, that gets presented. ....

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Old August 7, 2014, 03:53 PM   #3
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I sincerely doubt that they "tag you as carrying a gun."

That said, wow! I've never heard of officers taking a firearm back to their car to run serial numbers to look for stolen guns. Never, ever, ever, and I deal with a lot of police.
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Old August 7, 2014, 04:01 PM   #4
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skizzums, I wouldn't be surprised that some states will link CCL holders with drivers licenses, so if they do, I could see the police asking if you're carrying if they pull you over. Although, IMHO, checking the serial number on your gun constitutes a search. But, IANAL. I heard it's common for the police to take control of your gun until they check you out and/or send you on your way.

Here in NJ, I've heard stories about the local polizei wanting to see someone's guns, presumably to check the serial numbers, and access was denied and the cops went away.
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Old August 7, 2014, 04:24 PM   #5
JimDandy
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Although, IMHO, checking the serial number on your gun constitutes a search. But, IANAL. I heard it's common for the police to take control of your gun until they check you out and/or send you on your way.
IANAL either, but yeah I think it is a search. That doesn't mean it's an unlawful one. If they've pulled you over for a traffic infraction (And Spats plus other lawyers will hopefully have to chime in if I get a term or premise wrong) they already have reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion will support a Terry Stop, which can include seizing any weapons, as well as a pat down for anything that feels like a weapon.

Something similar to this discussion came up a while back over the NY SAFE Act, I think about just how much they could do to search your firearm for the 7 round limit during one of these stops.

As for taking all the rounds out of the magazine, was he looking for hollow points or was he looking to see if you had a little baggy of a little something-something hiding under the follower?
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Old August 7, 2014, 04:25 PM   #6
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In Arkansas, all CHCLs are linked to DL#s. If I run someone's traffic record in ACIC (Arkansas Crime Information Center), the record tells me if they have a CHCL.
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Old August 7, 2014, 04:31 PM   #7
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The serial number on my carry gun is covered up by the grips, and the grips are not easy to remove.

Running the serial number without a warrant and w/o probable cause to suspect the gun is stolen is an illegal search -- but what are you going to do about it, call Eric Holder?

Nobody cares about your rights anymore, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th Amendment or otherwise. Because terr'rism and drugs and stuff.
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Old August 7, 2014, 04:42 PM   #8
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Never known of it done with regularity on every stop. Only times that a serial number is regularly checked around here would be if the stop was connected to a crime involving a possible stolen firearm, say a vehicle description seen leaving a breaking and entering which had firearms stolen. The other reason would be incident to arrest.
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Old August 7, 2014, 04:43 PM   #9
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Way back when i used to be in LE in Nevada, your CCW was gun specific (as in THAT S/N). Couldnt be any Gun... Had to be that serial #.

I never bothered to match S/N's with the permit. I figured if you went thru the hassle and expense and BACKGROUND needed to get a CCW, then you were not a badguy and hence not someone i needed to spend a bunch of my patrol time with. Other folks needed my attention much more

Since getting out of LE i have been stopped for traffic violations a number of times (i still drive a little fast) no LEO has ever even asked to see my pistol
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Old August 7, 2014, 04:48 PM   #10
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Texas links CHL to DL or official ID.
In the OP's scenario, a case could be made that any data sent over a digital link is recorded, and therefore traceable back to the stop, the DL and CHL/CCW that was run, etc.

(And Big Brother said to say hi, he's watching and listening
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Old August 7, 2014, 05:15 PM   #11
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So you're carrying and he wants to see it.Do you draw the gun , unload and present it to him ? Very dangerous to him !!
Or do you let him take the gun from you ,out of the holster and check it ? Could be very dangerous to you. especially if he's unfamiliar with the gun !
Here in NY I would show him the permit if he asks. I might show him the gun but I wouldn't touch it or permit him to touch it !
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Old August 7, 2014, 05:25 PM   #12
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It may not exactly be your option to not let him touch it. And I wouldn't count on them letting you hand it to them. If they want it, and they have reasonable suspicion to take it, they'll be the one taking it.
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Old August 7, 2014, 06:37 PM   #13
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Surpise, Surprise !!!

So many times, these situations happen and take us by surprise. The LEO, is ready with his rehearsed "Innocent" request and you are not really ready with the proper answer. "Sir, would you mind if I look at your handgun?". Well no, I "guess" not. After all, you have nothing to hide..... Right ...

No, officer, I'd rather not show you my handgun and have shown you my permit. Now, if you really haven't done anything wrong, he has no probabl cause. ..

My six year old Grandson, dialed 911 while we were watching him, one evening. Just about the time he told us, one of our local LEO's, pulled into our driveway. At the front, I informed the LEO, that our grandson had dialed 911 by mistake. The LEO stated that because it was a 911 call, he had to come in and question our Grandson. Well okay, come in and in the end, it all worked out well, although he scared the crap out of our Grandson. ....

Be Safe !!!
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Old August 7, 2014, 07:24 PM   #14
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let me state that all these stops took place before a year ago when I got my carry permit. in GA your allowed to carry in your car without a permit, I honestly cant recall getting pulled over and not being asked if I have a gun, I don't have any stickers or anything that would tip it off either. I have only had a permit less than 8months and have not been pulled over since then, before that the gun would be in the glovebox or center console. I would just tell the cop where it was and he would ask me to hand it to him.

this happened on 3 occasions, two times just getting puled over for seatbelt/speeding, and once when me and my buddy had a noise complaint, we got pulled over leaving our friends private property

now that I have a permit, I figure I will just hand the permit to the officer with my license, maybe, I dunno
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Old August 7, 2014, 07:42 PM   #15
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That's the suggested way of doing things.
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Old August 7, 2014, 08:09 PM   #16
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Pennsylvania is notorious for such abuses, too.

It IS a search, and IMHO it's an unlawful search. Unless they have some reason to believe the gun might be stolen, they have no justification to check whether or not it's stolen. Terry rules apply.

Suppose you have a high-end camera on the front seat, in plain sight? They have serial numbers, and they are often stolen. Same for notebook computers. If the same cops don't "run the serial number" for a camera or a computer, they obviously have no justification for doing it with a handgun.

PA is possibly worse than GA. The PA State Police maintain a "database" of all firearms sales through FFLs. If they run your gun and it's not in their database, there's a good chance they'll confiscate it until/unless you can prove ownership ... even if the gun isn't on any stolen firearms list. How do you prove ownership of something you bought (legally) in a face-to-face transaction 10 or 15 or 20 years ago?

Everyone knows the PA database is incomplete, because face-to-face sales are legal with no reporting required. The PA State Police even argued in court that their "data base" isn't illegal because it's not complete, and therefore it's "just" a database, not a registry.

But the state police and many county and local officers in PA treat it like a registry.
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Old August 7, 2014, 08:48 PM   #17
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I'm retired law enforcement. I got pulled over by the Ohio Stte Patrol for speeding.
I was speeding. I fully expected a ticket being as Ohio is a state patrol agency & enforcing traffic laws is 95% of what they do.
I showed by drivers license and concealed carry permit. He ask that I hand him my pistol butt first.
I did. He went to his car, ran a serial number check, came back with a
"warning" ticket for speeding, & asked me to open my trunk. I did from the inside remote switch.
He closed my trunk said "slow it down" and left.
???????
I checked my trunk & there was my Sig 9mm tossed in the trunk, the ammo all over the trunk, the magazine under the spare tire!!!!!
He asked for my police i.d. & I gave him that too so he knew I was a cop.
Why he unloaded the weapon, & tossed all in the trunk is beyond me.
It ticked me off as I'd have never treated anyone like that.
Maybe he didn't like cops?
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Old August 7, 2014, 09:02 PM   #18
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I've never had a regular cop (city/county/state) do it, but I've had Fish and Game deputies run my firearms a few times.
Each time, it was obvious that they planned to waste my time and give me a hard time (or get super nit-picky and look for violations), if I didn't give them permission.

So... I let them use the radio for 2-3 minutes, and then go on about my business.
Even though it's a big irritation, it gives me some time to get friendly with the Fish cops. Having them on your side can be a very nice thing (and may even be a HUGE advantage if the natural balance of the area I'm hunting has been upset in the last few months ... 'cause they know where the animals went).


You have to keep an eye on them, though. Many LEOs have absolutely no respect for firearms of any kind. So, your $3,500 custom rifle with a pristine rust blue finish and custom stock may just get thrown on the hood of their truck / trunk of their car, if you don't let them know that they need to respect your property.
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Old August 7, 2014, 09:11 PM   #19
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Georgia doesn't register guns, nor are guns attached to carry licenses. The only thing the officer can verify is whether the gun is in the GCIC database as stolen.

So, unless the officer has reasonable, articulable suspicion that I'm in possession of a stolen firearm, I'm not going to hand it over. Sorry, but I'm choosing not to comply. He can call his supervisor if he needs clarification.
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Old August 7, 2014, 10:18 PM   #20
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I've had mine checked once.

My first instinct was to tell them to pound sand............but, since I was parked in a no parking zone, at 1 am, in an area they have a lot of drug use, burglary, and vandalism according to the officers (picked up the ex-wife from a bar, and pulled over at a convenient spot to have a chat about the bills she wasn't paying, didn't know the area, and choose a poor spot to stop), I gave my consent when they asked if they could run the number and check if it was stolen.

I was civil with them, and after chatting with one of the officers about a good spot to go elk hunting for a few minutes , the sent me on my way. It was worth it to my that time to try stay on thier good side and avoid escalating the incident.
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Old August 7, 2014, 10:50 PM   #21
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Under the OP's scenario, the initial traffic stop was legitimate under Terry v. Ohio. He then apparently consented to handing his gun to the officer. That is an exception to the warrant requirement. Assuming the serial number of the gun was visible on the frame, then the serial number was in "plain view." This is another exemption from the warrant requirement. Thus, the officer was allowed to read the serial number off the voluntarily surrendered firearm and run the number to see if it was stolen.

Asking questions not related to the stop does not make the stop unlawful "so long as those inquiries do not measurably extend the duration of the stop." Arizona v. Johnson. There is no bright line rule as to how much time constitutes measurably extending the duration of the stop. Certainly a couple of minutes would not be enough.

Now what happens if the driver or passenger does not admit to having a gun or does not voluntarily turn it over? If the officer has reasonable suspicion the driver (or passenger) is armed and dangerous, the officer can search the passenger compartment for weapons so long as passengers remain in the car or, more likely, order the occupants out of the car and pat them down.

The Supreme Court case that ties all this together is Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S. 323 (2009) available at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/htm...2.ZO.html#2ref

Note: corrected typo on citation to Az v. Johnson.
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Old August 7, 2014, 11:11 PM   #22
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If the officer has reasonable suspicion the driver (or passenger) is armed and dangerous
Do they need reasonable suspicion the individual is armed and dangerous? Or just that a crime, any crime, has been committed? As I understood it, the fact that a person was pulled over for a traffic infraction was reasonable suspicion enough that a crime was committed that anyone- driver, passenger etc- were fair game for a terry stop pat down and disarming?
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Old August 8, 2014, 01:54 AM   #23
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Just wanted to mention that while legally they cannot do a search if there is no suspicion, it is just possible that they are just telling you they are running the ser# as a pretext to control the weapon during the stop.

Police are people too, some good at knowing and following all the rules, all the time, others, not so much....
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Old August 8, 2014, 05:50 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by KyJim
Under the OP's scenario, the initial traffic stop was legitimate under Terry v. Ohio. He then apparently consented to handing his gun to the officer. That is an exception to the warrant requirement. Assuming the serial number of the gun was visible on the frame, then the serial number was in "plain view." This is another exemption from the warrant requirement. Thus, the officer was allowed to read the serial number off the voluntarily surrendered firearm and run the number to see if it was stolen.

Asking questions not related to the stop does not make the stop unlawful "so long as those inquiries do not measurably extend the duration of the stop." Arizona v. Johnson. There is no bright line rule as to how much time constitutes measurably extending the duration of the stop. Certainly a couple of minutes would not be enough.

Now what happens if the driver or passenger does not admit to having a gun or does not voluntarily turn it over? If the officer has reasonable suspicion the driver (or passenger) is armed and dangerous, the officer can search the passenger compartment for weapons so long as passengers remain in the car or, more likely, order the occupants out of the car and pat them down.
Terry still requires a reasonable suspicion of a crime before the officer is allowed to conduct even a cursory search, and that search is ONLY for the limited purpose of determining if the subject is armed. The officer is then entitled to take temporary custody of a sidearm "for officer safety." We agree to that point.

Beyond that point, I disagree. First, a serial number is not "in plain sight" -- you have to look for it. Second, even if you can read it without squinting and shining your tactical flashlight on it, there is nothing about a serial number by itself, absent other contributing factors (which, under the rules set by Terry, must be "clearly articulable), to generate a reasonable suspicion that the gun is stolen. Accordingly, calling in the serial number to check it is an unconstitutional search.
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Old August 8, 2014, 09:40 AM   #25
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Beyond that point, I disagree. First, a serial number is not "in plain sight" -- you have to look for it.
What is the standard for in plain sight? I just saw a few minutes of a COPS epispode while my football game was on a lightning delay, and he found marijuana in an open/unzipped backpack he had to shine a flashlight into through a car window. That seems even less "in plain sight" than something you have to hold up to your face. Is a window they have to stand on their car to see through in plain sight? (I'm not trying to be facetious, or anything I'm honestly curious what the standard is)
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