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California 2nd Amend. Political Discussion & Activism Discuss gun rights activism and 2A related political topics here. All advice given is NOT legal counsel.

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  #1  
Old 03-19-2011, 9:14 AM
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Default Experience with LEOs and guns

This is a California-specific question. I have just gotten active into shooting again after a 20 year hiatus. (Work, kids, career, you know...). My question is simple. What has been the experience of you shooters with interaction with LEOS? When you get stopped, if they see your locked range bag do they hassle you? If they see you shooting in a legal place to be shooting, i.e. the desert, do they hassle you?

I am well aware of the law governing transporting firearms, etc. and very conscious of the fact that how you behave towards LEOs (i.e. with deference and respect) largely governs how they treat you. (I can usually get out of getting a ticket by respectfully asking "did I do something wrong officer?" "Oh, shucks, I am so sorry...") My question really is whether here in California LEOs tend to gratuitously hassle us shooters who are behaving legally. Assume that the shooter is dressed reasonably OK, not going out of his way to look like a gang-banger.

I used to shoot in certain places in the boonies where it was legal to shoot. We sometimes ran into cops who were doing the same thing. They were usually friendly, (I was always EXTREMELY respectful) but I did have them sometimes ask things like "is your gun registered?" (not required in those days) or "do you have your proof of purchase of your firearm?" (not required then or now.) Nothing ever came of it, but that seemed to me to indicate a certain hostility by the LEOs towards law-abiding shooters.

Anyway, what is the current atmosphere out there like?
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Old 03-19-2011, 9:29 AM
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I have no idea whether my experience is typical or not, but I have yet to have a firearms-related encounter with an LEO which was not positive and encouraging. (Traffic stops are another story, lol)
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Old 03-19-2011, 9:38 AM
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It really depends on the cop. I've had some who didn't care at all and just asked me to keep my hands where they could see them, and some who drew down on me, took my gun, handcuffed me, and threw me in the back of a car and my gun confiscated. (BTW, that cop was transferred, seems there is this little thing called the 4th amendment)
Main thing is don't give up any info you don't have to and keep everything stashed. If you do get puled over you could be proned out on the ground in a driving rain storm. (The cop won't care about your safety) Or they could just ask you to step out side while they write the citation or just tell you to keep your hands on the wheel.
Just use your head and remember that most cops tend to get jumpy if they don't have complete control in a situation where a gun is present. I don't blame them, they are walking around with a target on their back and they see what the worst of society has to offer. I try to give most of them the benefit of the doubt because some don't have the seasoning to read a person yet or some just don't have it. Think how would you act in their shoes.
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Old 03-19-2011, 9:51 AM
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Be extra cautious with the younger ones. Old dogs are more apt not to freak out when they see you have some firearms, but the younger guys can tend to let their adrenaline take over when they see them, or "suspect" you have them. As you said...being courteous goes a long way.
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Old 03-19-2011, 9:51 AM
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Never had any issues. The only time close to being pulled over was a USFS Law Enforcement pulled me over last Fall because he did not see the firewood tag on my load. I was ccw'ing at the time but never felt I needed to discuss it as it was low key and casual the whole time, just wanted to see my firewood permit, etc.

I would think/hope if you just drive around pretty normal, keep Reg up, make sure all lights are working, you won't get pulled over it will never be an issue.
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:17 AM
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Only serious problem I've ever had was with a BLM ranger who was an authority cowboy. Local cop stopped me once coming from the range, asked "do you have anything in your car you dont want me to see?" Asked him if he was conducting a criminal investigation, he said no so I said then I'm outta here. He handed me back my license and left.
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogervzv View Post
This is a California-specific question. I have just gotten active into shooting again after a 20 year hiatus. (Work, kids, career, you know...). My question is simple. What has been the experience of you shooters with interaction with LEOS? When you get stopped, if they see your locked range bag do they hassle you? If they see you shooting in a legal place to be shooting, i.e. the desert, do they hassle you?

Anyway, what is the current atmosphere out there like?
It really depends on many factors. Some of those would be your attitude and appearance, the LEO's attitude and experience/age, the location of the encounter (car, shooting range, boonies, etc.), the status of the firearm (loaded/carried, locked away, in a gun rack) and what got the LEO out there in the first place (noise call, MWAG call, routine patrol).

All but one of my encounters have been fine. Out in Nevada I've had BLM rangers roll up, chew the rag, and not care that there were two loaded pistols on my belt (holstered). Getting pulled over in CA most recently, I had a good experience with a San Benito Deputy Sheriff and ended up chewing the rag with him for a good hour, too.

A good thing to remember is that LEOs engage in situational awareness. Doing what you can to immediately establish that you are a regular, law-abiding Joe, with no ulterior motives should be one of the first things to consider during a stop.

At the same time, I don't advocate just telling them what they want to know or allowing searches or fishing expeditions. If and when you have to draw that line in the sand for them, you do so politely and sincerely, but firmly.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:20 AM
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Having worked in the fire service for 24 years, I interact with LEO's on a regular basis. Several have become good friends and regular shooting buddies. My take is they are just a cross section of humanity, like you would find in any vocation. Your going to run into officers that are great guys, real PITA's and everything in between.

Their job is not one I envy; generally no one is real happy when they show up, and some of our clientele actually like shooting at them. As most have said, be polite but know your rights. Most of them are well aware of their legal limits. The days of the "flashlight agencies" are pretty much over, as they are always under the microscope. One bit of advice, don't lie. If their is one thing about that job, most of those guys learn to pick out liars pretty quickly.

Last edited by M-14; 03-30-2011 at 5:59 PM..
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:41 AM
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Only real "gun" issue I have ever had was 20 years ago and that was with DFG. Since then I have had the "any guns in here" questions but I am a biker so I fit the cookie cutter criminal look. Even though I have never been arrested. I play the "there is nothing illegal in the vehicle" game with the "no you can't search game" which on some cops sends up the red flag of "danger". They have always given up and other then a seatbelt ticket and a broken tail light I have had no problems. More just inconveniences then anything else.
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