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View Full Version : Can you get in trouble with the law for turning in a handgun you've found?


Sylvia
06-15-2010, 11:10 AM
Hi all,

A friend of mine from California emailed me with a interesting problem. I didn't know the answer to it, so I thought I would ask here. Her roommate brought home a handgun (my friend didn't know what kind, so I can't say) that she had found in a pile of donated clothes from the homeless shelter where she works. My friend wants to turn in the gun to the police-- she's afraid that the only reason you would have for trying to get rid of a gun like that is if it's been used in a crime-- but is afraid that either she or her roommate could get in some kind of trouble with the police if they bring it in, for having an unregistered gun or something.

I'm not familiar with California's laws since I don't live there, but I would really appreciate any advice you could give me on what she should do. Thanks!

stitchnicklas
06-15-2010, 11:14 AM
make sure it is unloaded,call the police dept. and tell them you are bring in a found gun.

if you are worried also send a pm to bwiese on the forum here he is a very knowledgeable individual

bwiese
06-15-2010, 11:27 AM
You should not have to fear turning in a gun in such a situation.

In fact, you have to declare 'found' property over a certain value anyway.

It may be best to call the PD and ask for pickup; don't risk transporting it esp if loaded or you don't have a locked case etc.

ke6guj
06-15-2010, 11:30 AM
its sad that the question even had to be asked.

But IIRC, a guy in England was recently convicted of possessing an unregistered handgun by meerly finding a handgun and taking it directly to the police station. The time he possessed it taking it to the cops was a crime.

paul0660
06-15-2010, 11:31 AM
call the cops and tell the story; to transport it it has to be in a locked case, so having them pick it up might be better. If it turns out to be stolen, stick to the original story.

stitchnicklas
06-15-2010, 11:39 AM
when in doubt contact bwiese i always say........:cool2:

Paragun
06-15-2010, 11:40 AM
If she turns it in and no one claims it, or it was not used in a crime, can she keep it after the time is up?

CSACANNONEER
06-15-2010, 11:42 AM
its sad that the question even had to be asked.

But IIRC, a guy in England was recently convicted of possessing an unregistered handgun by meerly finding a handgun and taking it directly to the police station. The time he possessed it taking it to the cops was a crime.

I seem to remember something about a shotgun that someone found and turned in in England.

Dr.Lou
06-15-2010, 11:43 AM
I would call the cops and have them come pick it up.

N6ATF
06-15-2010, 11:47 AM
If she turns it in and no one claims it, or it was not used in a crime, can she keep it after the time is up?

Not if the victim-disarming government has anything to say about it... probably will be melted into slag rather than be allowed to end up in the hands of a law-abiding citizen, who would then threaten criminals just by having it.

YubaRiver
06-15-2010, 11:50 AM
Another experience with found ammo.

At the range some shooters forgot a ammo box with a nice pair of binoc's,
several boxes of centerfire ammo and a couple of bricks of 22 ammo.

I turned it into the police along with a description of the car that left it.

Later on I found out that some of the the 22 ammo was probably illegal
as it was tracer rounds.

Trying to do the right thing has it's risks at times.

BigDogatPlay
06-15-2010, 12:12 PM
I would call the cops and have them come pick it up.

^^ This ^^... it may take them awhile to handle the call, but they absolutely will come out.

Glock22Fan
06-15-2010, 12:14 PM
I seem to remember something about a shotgun that someone found and turned in in England.

There was definitely a shotgun incident fairly recently. A man found a shorgun that someone had apparently dropped over the wall into his garden (yard). He took it to the police and was charged with being in possession of an unregistered firearm. Don't remember any handgun incidents.

In this case here, if the finder has a lockable secure case, then taking it to the nearest station is reasonable. However, I would definitely phone them first and ask what they want you to do. Ask for the name/badge number of the person you spoke to. The main problem with taking it in might be if you are stopped on route and the handgun is stolen.

winnre
06-15-2010, 12:32 PM
I found ammo in a speedloader and took it to the cops. Dang the paperwork! Holy cow!

markw
06-15-2010, 12:35 PM
Hah, just wait for a gun buy back program. No questions asked. :)

ke6guj
06-15-2010, 12:36 PM
I seem to remember something about a shotgun that someone found and turned in in England.

There was definitely a shotgun incident fairly recently. A man found a shorgun that someone had apparently dropped over the wall into his garden (yard). He took it to the police and was charged with being in possession of an unregistered firearm. Don't remember any handgun incidents.
yah, was probably the shotgun incident I was remembering.

thanks for the correction guys.

CHS
06-15-2010, 12:39 PM
If she turns it in and no one claims it, or it was not used in a crime, can she keep it after the time is up?

Theoretically, yes.

She should get a receipt for it and state those intentions from the get-go. Leaves a paper trail in case the department later says "you can't have it" or "oops, we lost it, don't worry about it".

I think a LEGR will also be required if/when the cops say that it's good to go. But maybe Bill can chime in on that part. He seems to love LEGR's :)

VinlandWarrior
06-15-2010, 4:14 PM
Hah, just wait for a gun buy back program. No questions asked. :)

I was thinking the same thing. Guess we're just a little smarter, down here in DAGO:D

winnre
06-15-2010, 4:21 PM
Don't put fingerprints on it and drop it in a mailbox.

Glock22Fan
06-15-2010, 4:39 PM
:rolleyes:Just don't go into a LE station waving it around saying "Look what I've got!" ;)

mecam
06-15-2010, 4:54 PM
Wait for the next Gun Buy Back and get some $$.

glockwise2000
06-15-2010, 5:06 PM
Wait for the next Gun Buy Back and get some $$.

^^^
Beat me to this idea. Handgun go for $100 from gun buy back or equivalent gift card.

johnrunner89
06-15-2010, 5:12 PM
Call your local LE agency, tell them what happened and let them know you want to turn it in. They will either tell you to bring it in or that they can send someone out to pick it up. If you drop it off, leave it in the car (transport it in the trunk unloaded or unloaded in a locked container) and let the officer at the front desk know once you arrived so he/she can go to your vehicle to retrieve it. All you should have to do is give your info and story for a simple found property report and you should be on your way.

CHS
06-15-2010, 5:20 PM
Call your local LE agency, tell them what happened and let them know you want to turn it in. They will either tell you to bring it in or that they can send someone out to pick it up. If you drop it off, leave it in the car (transport it in the trunk unloaded or unloaded in a locked container) and let the officer at the front desk know once you arrived so he/she can go to your vehicle to retrieve it. All you should have to do is give your info and story for a simple found property report and you should be on your way.

FYI, the trunk counts as a locking container, if it's locked :)

winnre
06-15-2010, 5:24 PM
FYI, the trunk counts as a locking container, if it's locked :)

My back seat has a latch so it can fold down if I carry 2x4s or something. Since I technically have access to the trunk from inside the car without a key, am I hosed?

CHS
06-15-2010, 5:41 PM
My back seat has a latch so it can fold down if I carry 2x4s or something. Since I technically have access to the trunk from inside the car without a key, am I hosed?

I'm guessing that might not fly.

misterjake
06-15-2010, 5:50 PM
The man from England was arrested for retaliation from another crime that he got off. I believe assaulting a police officer.

bodger
06-15-2010, 5:55 PM
I found ammo in a speedloader and took it to the cops. Dang the paperwork! Holy cow!


Same here. I was renovating a house and found a bunch of ancient .45 ACP, and some .12 ga shotgun shells. All of which had green stuff all over it. I showed it to the homeowner and the old nelly freaked out.

I promised him I would dispose of it properly and tossed it in a box in my truck. If I recall, it is illegal to dispose of ammunition in the regular trash, so I swung by the Hollywood Division cop shop on my way home, thinking I was doing the right thing.

You would think I had brought a dead cat in there. The cops were underwhelmed to say the least, and I soon found out why because of the paperwork they had to do to process this crap.
They begrudgingly acknowledged that I was doing the right thing, even though I didn't solicit their opinion.

Next time, straight in the dumpster.

G17GUY
06-15-2010, 6:02 PM
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?p=4459517#post4459517

:TFH:

johnrunner89
06-15-2010, 6:11 PM
FYI, the trunk counts as a locking container, if it's locked :)

Yea, I forgot to add, "if not in the trunk" after "or" so I was hoping the OP would figure out what I meant but I'm sure he's not a mind reader :D But thanks for clearing that up for the OP!

Sylvia
06-15-2010, 6:31 PM
Thanks so much all! Sadly, she's a little squeamish about guns, so I just advised her to call the police and ask them to come pick it up. Appreciate all the suggestions!

Glock22Fan
06-15-2010, 6:41 PM
Thanks so much all! Sadly, she's a little squeamish about guns, so I just advised her to call the police and ask them to come pick it up. Appreciate all the suggestions!

Maybe one of us could help? It might be a clean firearm worth reclaiming after the staturory period (however long that is) is up. Some gunny who lives close to you could check it out and help hand it in perhaps?

otteray
06-15-2010, 7:21 PM
I found ammo in a speedloader and took it to the cops. Dang the paperwork! Holy cow!

I found a box of factory Remington 210 gr .41 mag SJHP and promptly shot it through my .41 guns.
Excellent brass for reloading, I might add ;)

halon101
06-15-2010, 7:41 PM
i would wait untill lapd does another of those gun buy backs and make 100$ in the shape of an american express gift card.

they are anonymous and no questions asked.

Mark in Eureka
06-15-2010, 7:55 PM
Working Security, we have found guns. Called the police, they were always happy to respond. Never any problems.

Ron-Solo
06-15-2010, 8:29 PM
It is sad about the lack of ethics by people on this forum. All of those who suggested to wait until a gun buy back and be annonymous and gain personally from it are wrong.

This gun could be a real important piece of evidence in a serious crime that could put a bad guy away. It might also be someone's family heirloom that was stolen and they stand a better chance of getting it back if it is turned in individually. If it was your missing gun, would you want it turned in individually or tossed in a pile with a bunch of other guns not wanted by their owners.

Everyone complains about being treated poorly by "The government" and that they can't be trusted with a CCW or other gun rights, then they turn around and prove "them" right by their lack of morals.

Think about it. What is the "Right Thing" to do?

twinfin
06-15-2010, 8:50 PM
Twice I have found guns while diving near wharves and jetties. I turned them in both times to the local law enforcement agency and they were happy to receive them with no questions asked though I did tell them how I cam upon them them.

One was a well rusted Colt .380 or similar small caliber. The other was a perfectly good Raven Arms small caliber semi-auto but no magazine with the gun.

Turning in a found firearm is the right thing to do. It may be the important link in solving a crime. Even if I found a nice Kimber in perfect shape on the bottom of the sea, I would do what was right..... for sure!

Theseus
06-15-2010, 9:02 PM
I'm guessing that might not fly.

In my research I have yet to find a single case that supports this argument, but I am no super sleuth.

Paragun
06-15-2010, 9:36 PM
Thanks so much all! Sadly, she's a little squeamish about guns, so I just advised her to call the police and ask them to come pick it up. Appreciate all the suggestions!

Is she squeamish about steak knives too? I bet she isn't because she uses them all the time, but they are used in crimes and do kill people. She just needs to learn how to use a gun, how it works, and how to handle it safely. Guns just don't run around by themselves and shoot people.

My wife was the same last year, but now she loves her Mossberg 500 pump shotgun. Not bad with my AR, 9mm, and the 30-30 lever. She can break down and clean them too, and we will be reloading our own ammo soon.

I'm sure many here would love to help point her to gun classes and local shoots and she would begin to love shooting and feel very safe around guns.

user_name
06-15-2010, 9:56 PM
I seem to remember something about a shotgun that someone found and turned in in England.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1236976/Soldier-given-suspended-sentence-handing-shotgun-police-given-award-instead.html

N6ATF
06-15-2010, 9:58 PM
My back seat has a latch so it can fold down if I carry 2x4s or something. Since I technically have access to the trunk from inside the car without a key, am I hosed?

If the backseats have lockout switches on the trunk side (like both newer-model Toyota Corollas in my family), for locking out valets, engage them and turn the key on the lid so it can't be opened from inside the vehicle. Regardless of what it takes to qualify as a locked container, make it as hard as possible to violate your 4A rights...

Sinixstar
06-15-2010, 10:35 PM
No matter what - you have to call the police to arrange the transfer of a found gun. If you just show up at the police station and pull a gun out - it's not going to go smoothly. The DOJ site says as much, and warns that an appointment and proper arrangements should be made before attempting any kind of turn in.

The question that will likely be raised, is why did she not call the police and let them come down and check it out as soon as it was found, instead of bringing it home?
Hypothetically speaking - if there were there concerns about making sure it was secure at whatever facility it was found at, it might make sense for her to take it off-site to insure her safety and the safety of those around her. Even then strictly speaking according to the law - it's a little sketchy. I would suggest she have a good answer ready though. Don't lie - but be prepared.

jamesob
06-15-2010, 11:40 PM
here is my advise and i'm sure it's to late. do not handle the weapon and do not make sure it's unloaded. if it has been used in a crime your prints will contaminate any left behind evidence. all the police and let them take it away.

tpuig
06-15-2010, 11:47 PM
+1 Might even get a gift card out of it...


Hah, just wait for a gun buy back program. No questions asked. :)

DVSmith
06-16-2010, 11:53 AM
Here is more info...

Woman's World War I weapons shut down city center

By DOUG IRVING
2010-06-16

BUENA PARK – Police evacuated City Hall and shut down busy Beach Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon after an elderly woman turned up with a carload of World War I era rifles and shells.

The woman told police she had discovered the antique weapons when she cleaned out her garage. Her late husband – who died 20 years ago – had apparently collected them, Buena Park Police Sgt. Bill Kohanek said.

The woman took the weapons – which included rifles, handguns and bayonets – to the Police Department to turn them in. But what worried officers were "quite a few shells – large-caliber, military ordinance" that she also had brought in her car, Kohanek said.

Some of the shells were still in their original boxes, so police could not determine by looking at them whether they were still live.

Police evacuated the Police Department and City Hall around 3:15 p.m., shut down both directions of Beach Boulevard and called in the bomb squad. Most of the weapons were found to be inert, Kohanek said, although the bomb squad did find and remove an explosive mechanical fuse.

Police lifted the evacuation and the road closures after about two hours.

The woman won't face any charges, Kohanek said. "We would certainly help any resident in that situation," he said. "But we would ask that they call us and let us come out."

Police will destroy the weapons and shells in accordance with department policy, Kohanek said. That policy makes no exception for antique or collectible weapons, he said: "We can't get in the business of reselling weapons."

N6ATF
06-16-2010, 12:01 PM
I am going to crap a brick right now...

winnre
06-16-2010, 12:21 PM
Shortsighted cops are destroying history.