Justified Shooting? Why Do You Have To Turn Your Gun Over?
Disarmed? It’s a frequent occurrence. Happens a lot. A lawful possessor of a firearm (we will call him Rick) uses said firearm to fend off an attack. Maybe Rick shot and killed an assailant. Maybe Rick fired a few rounds to ward off evil doers. But whatever happened, Rick used his weapon in defense of self or others. The police were called and that is where it gets messy.
Now for the purpose of this column I’m assuming that Rick was 100% justified in doing whatever he did. That as a result, there is no question that he will not face charges. His actions were legal.
What invariably happens? The police take Rick’s gun. They disarm the very fellow who has committed no crime. Why do the police take the gun? Oh, it’s “evidence” they will say. So is the front door, but you didn’t take it. So is the car that the bad guy used (it was stolen), but you don’t keep it until trial. So are the clothes that Sister Nancy (an eyewitness) was wearing. Lots of things are “evidence”, so what makes taking the gun appropriate? “It’s the way we always do it.”
Sometimes they will say it’s for “ballistics” testing. Let’s say that Rick shot the perp (short for perpetrator, but it sounds cool) in the head. Rick told them he shot the perp twice. Perp’s got two entry wounds in his head. The next morning the M.E. (Medical Examiner) finds two hollow point slugs in the bad guy’s head. Either Rick is a damn good shot or the bad guy was unlucky, but either way, Rick was the only one shooting. What’s the ballistics test for? Who cares? Other than an overzealous forensics examiner, it’s a waste of government time and money to do a ballistics test. Now, to be fair, if multiple shots were fired by multiple firearms, they may need to do a ballistics test to figure out what shot went where. But once that is done, give Rick the gun back.
Sometimes they will say they “need it for trial as an exhibit.” Tell you what, how about you take as many pictures as you want and use those instead. If you want, Rick will bring the firearm to the trial of the perp (not the one Rick shot in the head, he’s dead). “Well Sir, we need the actual firearm.” Rick’s reply is that they aren’t bringing his house to the trial, all they needed was some pictures of it.
Why so worried about the firearm? Well, #1, Rick would like to have some protection while it takes the government 3 years to prosecute the bad guy. #2, the government has lost evidence before, and Rick would like to get this gun back. He knows it works pretty good. Remember, either he’s a great shot or it’s a lucky gun, but either way, Rick wants it back.
Is there a law that permits the government to take Rick’s gun? Nope. But it’s one of those “that’s the way we do it” things that the government does. If this happens to you, I’d suggest you don’t accept their answer of “we always do this” and go to the top, whether it be the Sheriff, Police Chief or District Attorney. Insist that they take some pictures and give you your gun back. Remind the head honcho that the reason you had to use your firearm the first time was that they weren’t there to handle business, and you don’t expect they’ll be any more timely the next occasion.