Loaded weapon encounter with the law
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Thread: Loaded weapon encounter with the law

  1. #1

    Loaded weapon encounter with the law

    A bad experience.

    My son was stopped by a Park Ranger on the Natchez Trace Parkway the other night (shortly after midnight) for having both of his tag light bulbs out. It only got worse from there. The officer stated the reason for stopping my son (no tag lights - tag not easily visible, hence a violation - since when did vehicle inspection compliance become an issue?), and in the same breath, he asked if he had any weapons. My son, being truthful and honest, answered that he did, and the two officers went "ape", yelling at him to put his hands on the steering wheel, keep them so he could see them. My son had a shotgun in a case behind the seat (unloaded, ammunition stored in a separate compartment) of his truck and a .40 caliber pistol under the seat in a case with no shell in the chamber, but with a loaded clip inserted. The officers assumed my son was carrying, but during a pat-down, he finally convinced them that the gun was in his truck. They retrieved it and discovered the loaded clip, and tried to accuse my son of lying to them when they asked him if it was loaded. "Loaded" to me means one in the chamber, and he answered to the best of his knowledge that it was not. They disagreed (and were jerks about it), gave him a citation, and now he owes the U. S. Treasury $125 for having a loaded weapon on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Since he is a college student, has a clean record (until now) and no money, guess who has to pay the fine. My son also endured 20 minutes of a complete vehicle search while standing in the cold with his bare hands on the tailgate of his truck while his personal belongings were searched and his privacy violated, all because of being stopped for having no tag lights.

    More knowledgeable people, I need your input. I have read here in this forum that it is sometimes routine for an officer to ask if someone they stopped has a weapon, but is it legal for them to ask that question while stopping a person for something else entirely? What should have my son said? If he had said "no", he would have gotten a ticket for no tag lights. Any reason to search the vehicle would have revealed the two firearms, and there would really have been a lot of trouble. Since he said yes, they searched his truck, asked if he had been drinking or doing drugs, ran his license, got smart with him on several occasions, and in general, acted like jerks. Mississippi has one set of gun laws, but the Natchez Trace Parkway has a different set. Around here, some low-life rednecks like to ride the roads at night spotlighting deer, and since there is no hunting within the Natchez Trace boundaries, no loaded deer rifles are permitted for obvious reasons. Good law, but it also extends to personal protection firearms, which defeats the purpose of self defense.

    In my opinion, they should not have asked him if he had any weapons. It is none of their business, and they should have only acted only on the reason they stopped him. Am I wrong in thinking that? I have lost a lot of respect for the Park Ranger. Any policeman doing his job is taking a risk, but they don't have to be jerks about it. Why take an armed law-abiding civilian and treat him like a law-breaker instead of and asset who is exercising his Second Amendment rights? I shudder to think what may have happened if my son had sneezed and the smart-aleck SWAT guy hiding off the back rear corner of his truck would have done. He was being treated like a criminal, and I am upset with what all happened.

    I am venting a little, but I would like some input from you guys.

    Thanks.

  2.   
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1,437
    Not sure about federal parks specifically, but asking if someone has any weapons is pretty standard for all LEO stops. They ask that if you get stopped for speeding. You'll have to see what the federal rules on carrying weapons are, but the shotgun was probably fine. The pistol might be in question. Was it just under the seat, or was it in a zippered or snap case of some kind?

    I do know that in FL, Jeb signed a bill before he left that allows concealed carry of weapons in state parks. Hopefully other states will adopt similar measures.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Gray Court, SC
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    I'd fight it!

    My opinion is since he has a clean record and he was truthful and honest to them I would request a trial. I would go out and find a good 2A lawyer and fight this. All you need is an illegal weapons charge on your record and you're screwed. A good 2A lawyer should be able to show that he was not intending to break the law and that the law created the problem. Legal up to a point on the road then illegal . Do they provide a place to pull over to secure a weapon that is about to become illegal? I know it's not required but signs should be put up stating that people are entering an area that all handguns must be stored in a locked case and ammo be in a separate place. I'd contend that areas like this are areas not unlike a city speed trap without speed limit signs.
    USAF Retired, CATM, SC CWP, NH NR CWP, NRA Benefactor
    To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them... -- Richard Henry Lee, 1787

  5. #4
    Technically, he may be a criminal in the sense that he was carrying a "loaded" weapon in his vehicle. Semantics aside, in TN, those without a TN 2A "permission slip" must keep ammo and weapon separately, and both out of reach. If he's permitted, the stop sounds like it went overboard. I'll try some looking about driving the Natchez Trace. I'm not sure what the firearms regulations are on the road. Good luck to him. I'd also agree that this one might be worth fightin.g
    Victory rewards not the army that fires the most rounds, but who is the more accurate shot. ---Unknown

  6. #5
    I just made a phone call to the Natchez Trace Park headquarters, and the only response the guy gave me was that the roadway "is Federal property." I pressed a little more, explaining no intention to visit the park, just drive the highway, and I got the same Federal property response. He might be up the proverbial creek, regardless if he's permitted or not. GOOD LUCK.
    Victory rewards not the army that fires the most rounds, but who is the more accurate shot. ---Unknown

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Parsons, TN
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    They of course can ask the question...they can ask just about anything for that matter. What his answer should have been is a tough one...I don't think I can advocate directly lying to a LEO, but you are probably right that if he'd said no and none were obvisouly visable it wouldn't have been an issue.

    Also as has been said...the Trace is federal property so some laws could supercede TN laws however there is no blanket TN or Federal law that prohibits carry on federal property despite what the guy that PascalFleischman spoke to was probably trying to imply.

    I also agree that he should fight it instead of just paying the ticket, go to court explain to the judge the situation....nothing to loose really.
    “Because when seconds count, the police are only minutes away”

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  8. #7

    more information

    Thanks, guys. You are being a big help. Here is some more information:

    http://www.dps.state.ms.us/dps/dps.n...7?OpenDocument

    Mississippi Highway Patrol - Frequently Asked Questions

    How can I transport my handgun thru Mississippi while on vacation or just passing thru?


    Mississippi Law Sec. 97-37-1 (2) states "It shall not be a violation of this section for any person over the age of eighteen (18) to carry a firearm or deadly weapon concealed in whole or in part within the confines of his own home or his place of business, or any real property associated with his home or business or within any motor vehicle".

    If you will be traveling on the Natchez Trace Federal Parkway, please contact them directly at (662)842-1572 for their rules & regulation on transporting your firearm.
    ************************************************** ******
    Looking up the Natchez Trace Parkway firearms rules Googled from several different websites, they say:
    "Hunting and the use of firearms are prohibited."
    "fireworks and firearms are prohibited."
    "Hunting and the possession of loaded firearms are prohibited."

    A search of the http://www.nps.gov/natr/ website for "firearms" did not return any rules. A telephone call may be the only way to obtain information.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Parsons, TN
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    Here is a response I got from a questions I posted from a Trace website.

    My Question:

    Can a person with a valid handgun permit from TN, MS, AL or any state
    transport a loaded handgun in their vehicle as long as the weapon never
    leaves the vehicle?


    Thank you for any information.
    --------------
    Their response:

    Under the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 36), an individual may
    transport a weapon in a vehicle on Park Service lands as long as: the
    weapon is unloaded, the weapon is broken down or made unusable - (ie. -
    magazine removed or weapon lock on revolvers), the weapon must be in a case
    and the weapon must be in a separate area, of the vehicle, than the
    ammunition. If the weapon is in the passenger area of the vehicle it must
    not be concealed.

    The Federal Government does not recognize State weapons permits for
    personal carry of weapons in National Parks.

    Thank you for inquiring and let us know if we can be of furhter service.

    David Atkins
    Staff Park Ranger
    Natchez Trace Parkway
    “Because when seconds count, the police are only minutes away”

    Posting in …….
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    USA Carry
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    Tennessee Gun Owners
    also check
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    Tennessee Laws at: Michie’s Legal Resources

  10. #9

    Ouch

    that's good to know for people transiting the Trace through three states. I honestly don't know whether you should/could fight that one or not since they count the roadway as being the park. I would have thought thru-traffic would not be subject to that sort of restriction. It is a shame that the poor young man now has a weapons-related charge against him but, apparently, it IS the law on that section of road. I am from Memphis and would have never even thought about it. Doesn't it sort of "start and stop" in places as it runs from beginning to end? Damned inconvenient. If I lived in that area, I would have to figure out another route.

    It also occurs to me that this could be an issue in Colorado (and many other states) in places such as the stretches of road between Estes Park and Granby (US 34 - runs through Rocky Mountain National Park), Breckinridge and Alma (CO 9 - runs through Araphoe National Forrest) and from Idaho Springs to Echo Lake then down to Bergen Park (CO 103 - also Arapahoe National Forrest). These are through-traffic roadways with access to residences, hotels and restaurants. Obviously we would not carry into state park facilities but a through road without gates doesn't seem like it should be a facility to me.

    Oh, and about the loaded/unloaded thing. If it had a mag inserted containing live rounds I think almost everyone will agree it was "loaded". That was a mistake and could be what set them even further on edge.
    Reality, DEAL with IT!

  11. #10
    Join Date
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    On my last trip to NV I remember seeing signs before entering the National Park areas of Lake Mead. Don't remember the exact wording, but I got the message that if I was carrying, I should unload and secure my firearm in the trunk of the vehicle.
    "A few well placed shots with a .22LR is a lot better than a bunch of solid misses with a .44 mag!" Glock Armorer, NRA Chief RSO, Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Muzzleloading Rifle, Muzzleloading Shotgun, and Home Firearm Safety Training Counselor

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