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Can LE unlock your gun safe?

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Benny503, May 20, 2010.

  1. Benny503

    Benny503 Grants Pass Well-Known Member

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    Lately there are few issues with Law Enforments remove firearms from people's house. With bad or good reason I am not going to go there. The question I want to know is:

    If I have a gun safe and I am the only one with the combinations. Can the LE get a locksmith to unlock my gunsafe and compensate all my guns?
     
  2. powermad

    powermad Portland Active Member

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    If they have a warrant to look in the safe they will get it open.

    Who is getting guns confiscated ?
     
  3. Deavis

    Deavis Mid Willamette Valley Active Member

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    with a warrant yes... and you can give the combo or other means will be utilized.... cheap safe = prying. hard/real safe = locksmith.


    "compensate" - if you are a felon or a drug dealer or some such.... uhhhhhh.... no.
     
  4. Benny503

    Benny503 Grants Pass Well-Known Member

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    Well the guy in Medford got his guns took away from him last month, without his consent. If he had all his guns in the safes locked would they go into his safe and remove it from him?
    One guy had his ex-wife put a restricted order against him because he have too many guns and she doesn't feel safe. All his gun in the safes and the LEs would come with a lock smith and take his gun?

    I can name a few more stories but it is not related in oregon. Like a old military vet that own couple which california think it "assault weapons", ca law enforment took it away from him.

    I can see if the guns are in plain sight then the confiscate, but in a lock safe I thought that would be my private property unless I give them permission to look into it.



    Yeah confiscate I mean not compensate he he he
     
  5. 8ball

    8ball WA Quit talkin' and start chalking!

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    A search warrant gives the police the right to call a locksmith and they will have your safe open within an hour or two.
     
  6. smithmax

    smithmax here Member

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    The guns are your private property no matter what. You own them, they are yours. But that doesn't mean the police can't get a warrant to take them from you.
     
  7. SgtKashim

    SgtKashim Wilsonville, Oregon Member

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    I think what he was trying to get at was open container / in plain sight laws... We only covered this briefly in a computer forensics class I took (so if there's a lawyer or LEO here who could correct any mistakes I've made...), but if things are 'in plain sight' at the time a legal search is executed, LEOs need no further warrant to confiscate or investigate. If it's in a 'closed container', then LEOs would need to get another warrant before searching or collecting from the 'closed container'. So, I guess that means... If they come to your house to investigate a noise complaint, and there's a pistol on the coffee table or a rifle hanging on pegs on the wall that the officer can see from the doorway, if he can drum up probable cause, he could grab those two for ballistics testing. If it's in the safe, though, he'd need to call for a warrant to search the house for guns.

    This whole stack of precedent presents an interesting legal challenge for computers - do files on your computer count as open or closed containers? Until recently, it was open. If they got a warrant to check any file on your computer, the rest were considered an open container. A recent court case, though, has seemed to say that it's closed, after LE's abused the privilege a bit. Of all things, it was the MLB steroid scandal. LEs got a warrant for records of one player who'd admitted using steroids, and used it to confiscate every computer in the lab and investigate EVERY player who'd used steroids. That seems to have been stepping over the line.

    Back to the original point - the other place guns have been confiscated is during times emergency. Hurricane Katrina, etc. Legality on those is less clear. I think Oregon tried to pass a law preventing it, but I don't recall if it passed.
     
  8. deen_ad

    deen_ad Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Hawaii just passed a law against confiscation during an emergency.

    Unless there's such a law here in WA that I don't know about I sure hope it happens here soon!!
     
  9. deen_ad

    deen_ad Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    you have to fight to get them back. You might win but it'll usually cost more in attorney fees than what the weapons are worth
     
  10. Kanewpadle

    Kanewpadle Washington Member

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    Correct. I have opened many safes for LEO with a warrant. I see the warrant, I open it. Usually in just a few minutes.

    With the make and serial number I can call the manufacturer and get the combo. As long as the combo hasn't been changed.

    Every single time I opened a safe, it was part of an investigation. So obviously there was some wrong doing on the owners part.

    Some were for murders that were committed but most were drug related.
     
  11. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Ardenwald, OR Well-Known Member

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    If your life style involves police and warrants maybe gun ownership is not a good idea.
     
  12. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Search warrants in the recent past are very frequently written much more "open ended" than the Constitution actually allows for (it requires the warrant specifically state what is being looked for and items to be seized). Therefore, cops can and will open your safe if they want to. Anybody stating, "They can't do that" will be educated in rapid form. A few judges insist on Constitutional specificity, but they are becoming more rare.

    I take issue with the (locksmith) gentleman stating, "...part of an investigation, so the person is obviously involved in some wrongdoing..."

    That is a leap in logic belonging more properly in the old Soviet Union.

    As for computer contents, unfortunately computers have not enjoyed the protection provided in the Constitution toward being "secure in your letters".

    Cops can and will engage in "fishing expeditions" with your computer, with no need for them to state specifically what they are looking for. Personally, I believe computer contents should enjoy the same protection as "letters", since the computer is now a primary form of such communication, but our Founding Fathers could not have anticipated this. I fear the time is too late now for a case to be made toward protection of this new version of "letters".

    As for police action, the universal rule is, "Yes, they can do that", and then it will be up to you to find a judge that will tell them different after the fact.
     
  13. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    A cop coming to a home on a noise complaint has no right to even enter your home, don't allow them in, step out side and close the locked door behind you. Secondly what do visible firearms have to do with a noise complaint or need for a "ballistics test", and by what authority can a cop just confiscate your guns in your own home?

    So much for innocent until proven guilty, eh?

    Yes, fools and traitors in black robes are becoming more common in these dark days before the 3rd American Revolution
     
  14. SgtKashim

    SgtKashim Wilsonville, Oregon Member

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    Better explanation here, but its called plain view doctrine. I believe I may have over-stated the strength a bit.

    That's what I was trying to explain - if, in the course of a legal search, an LEO sees something 'in plain sight', then he can investigate without need for a further warrant. I'll agree, perhaps, that the noise complaint thing was probably too strong an example (I'd have to do more research...), but lets look at one I know is more realistic. You've been accused of... financial derivatives fraud. This isn't a violent crime. LE comes to your house with a warrant for your computers and financial records. In the course of collecting that evidence, they see a dis-assembled gun on the table where you'd been cleaning it. Thats 'in plain sight' - meaning they can investigate it even though their warrant doesn't specify firearms. Investigate doesn't always mean they will confiscate it, but it could. If the gun were in the safe, then they couldn't investigate without first getting a judge to grant a warrant specifically to open the safe, or to look for firearms.

    It is important to note that this can't be used as a fishing expedition - officers still need 'probable cause', but they don't always need a warrant. What counts as 'probable cause' is a whole 'nother ball of wax.

    Now, in practice, they will get the warrant issued. Its just a matter of delay.

    To Computers - to actually search your computer, they DO need a warrant. All the usual rules for getting a warrant still apply. Until recently, though, if they had a warrant for one file, the rest were considered open. Your email is a slightly different beast - it's stored in a place other than your computer and transmitted across the web. I won't disagree that the laws on email privacy are extremely broken - LE doesn't actually need a warrant for email over 180 days old (Citing my source...) - email is treated a bit more like your trash. They don't need a warrant to search your garbage and recycle bins in front of your house, even though they may inadvertently read private communication. Stuff over 180 days is treated like you read it and threw it out.
     
  15. clearconscience

    clearconscience Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Not unless they have a warrant. Just like your locked glove box.
     
  16. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Our corrupt courts have completely mis interpreted the 4th amendment. Probable cause is only one of the (several) requirements for a search warrant, and said warrant must list specifically what and or who is to be apprehended. Anything else as far as "evidence" would require another warrant and in any other case cannot be used against the suspect, because it was not listed in the warrant
     
  17. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Nothing can be Constitutionally searched without a warrant signed by a judge. Please read the 4th


    Your car/truck is certainly part of your "effects" (possessions) and is inviolable without a warrant

    A search or seizure without a warrant is unreasonable, as the non bolded part clearly explains. The amendment then (in bold) explains how a Constitutional warrant can be obtained, and what that warrant will authorize

    If it's not listed in that warrant and it is a legal item it cannot be seized
     
  18. TCOV

    TCOV OLYMPIC PENINSULA Active Member

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    If you read the news you know there are plenty of crooks in law enforcement who will violate you rights if they can get away with it.
     
  19. CEF1959

    CEF1959 Willamette Valley, Oregon New Member

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    You have a dangerously simplistic view of the Fourth Amendment. You shouldn't be advising people.
     
  20. Benny503

    Benny503 Grants Pass Well-Known Member

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    Ok... so if I violate the laws and they can come to my house take my guns away from me. Thank you everyone input.

    What if... I rents a gun safe at some local gun stores just like the bank safety box that we have. Do LEs have to right to get a court search warrant to go into the local gun store lockers and take my guns?

    Any guns locker will tell the LE to back off untill they have the owner approval?