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Old May 9, 2010, 12:02 AM   #22
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Join Date: January 25, 2006
Location: Oak Harbor, WA
Posts: 1,719
Originally Posted by 44 AMP
And I don't know that running the number of the gun is a violation of your rights, either. Running your license plate, VIN number, or driver's license number is commonly done, with out asking for your permission.
Vehicles are required to be properly titled and registered in order to be operated on public streets. License plate numbers and VIN numbers are in plain sight. Since the VIN numbers and license plates are in plain sight and since the vehicle is on a public road for which registration is required to operate, it is not a violation of the 4th amendment to check to see if the vehicle is properly titled and licensed. Driver's are required to be licensed on public roads and state laws require drivers to produce licenses when stopped and asked by LEO.

The serial number of the gun is a completely different matter altogether. The serial number of the gun is not in plain sight. It requires action on the part of the officer to search for it to obtain it. In this case there was no reasonable articulable suspicion (RAS) to suspect that the firearm was stolen. In most states that don't have gun registration, that is the only reason to check the serial number of the gun. So what you end up with is a specific action taken by an officer to search for evidence of a crime that they have no RAS has occurred.

Some will argue that the serial number comes into plain sight when the officer takes possession of the gun "for officer safety." I call B.S. I hand you my gun... now quick - don't look - tell me what the serial number is! Oh.... you have to look for it, because every model of gun has a number that is in a different place and is so small that you actually have to look the gun over to find it and read it.
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