Police are seizing your guns - What can you do? - The Loose Cannon
This is every shooters fear. Police arrive to seize your firearms.
The approach of Police shall either be low key, and conciliatory, or you shall get the full ‘shock and awe’, treatment, designed to subdue and intimidate.
A lot here has to do with where you are- you are likely to get different treatment for example in South West Sydney than in a small town, where the Policeman knows everyone in the community.
What do you do?
HAVE ME ON SPEED DIAL
Firstly, in an emergency situation, you do not want to be wasting time ‘Googling’ my details or looking for a copy of ‘Sporting Shooter’ magazine, so join a number of the proprietors of leading gun shops, manufacturers, importers and paint ball operators, who have me entered into their telephone.
0427 280 962 or 02 6299 9690
I do not mind calls 24/7 in the case of a genuine emergency.
DO POLICE HAVE A WARRANT?
The conduct of Police is regulated in each state by specific legislation.
You need to ask what are they seeking to do, and what is their justification.
Remember, just because there is no RTBA in Australia, does not mean you are completely without rights.
Ask Police. You have a right to know.
If they have not given it to you, ask if they have a warrant. Ask to see it, read it carefully and check its details. Just because you shoot does not mean you are devoid of rights.
DEALING WITH POLICE
Always treat Police with respect. Remember, if you do not, they have the capacity to make your life incredibly miserable.
I always address Police by their rank, and if you do not know their rank, an appropriate ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ shall get you off the hook. If this appears a bit snivelly to you, note, I am not suggesting you respect the person inside the uniform- often I do, many times, I do not, but I DO have the utmost respect for their uniform, and what it represents.
It’s like being in the military- you salute the uniform and not the man, (unless it is a VC holder, in which case everyone salutes the man irrespective of rank!).
Having said this, my starting point with individual Police is one of respect, as I have the utmost respect for someone who dons a uniform and goes out in a morning to protect the community, under circumstances where, there is a potential that they may not come back, or may come back with a mental or physical injury after seeing some truly horrible aspects of humanity during a shift.
However, this respect never gets in the way of doing my job!
Some coppers are anti-gun, most in my experience are not. Many are however ignorant about firearms. They are not stupid, and if someone makes a sensible suggestion, and a polite reason is given, they will accommodate it, and often warm at the ability to learn something.
Remember, most Police experience is limited to a service Glock, a pretty indestructible plastic tool that requires and receives minimal maintenance from officers whose training is minimal at best.
So, keep your cool and do react adversely to their ignorance.
Police should be advised that, physically you shall do nothing to oppose Police, however, you consent is not given expressly or impliedly. Everything they do, from your point of view is under protest.
One of the coppers present may try and engage you, it is part of the ‘good cop, bad cop routine’, that you may have seen in movies, that is part of their training. Take advantage of this, and address requests to photograph items and secure firearms in cases or wraps to this officer, but be careful about what YOU say, do not drop your guard.
Firearms seizures present particular problems for coppers. Usually there are firearms and boxes of peripheral items. The officer usually attending is not a ‘gun guy’. He or she has no idea that a green MTM box contains fifty primed cases of Remchester 7mm, or if a part is an innocent part of a permitted or licensed object, or prohibited.
This ignorance becomes a problem when it comes to receipting items, because liability issues can arise from misdescription, and this can lead to coppers simply not receipting items if they can get out of it.
They may even no idea what telescopic sights are, or what sensitive optical instruments they are. I was recently horrified to hear of some coppers in Sydney, removing telescopic sights that had not been installed on firearms from their boxes, examining them, and then, instead of replacing them in their boxes, packing them loosely in a box to take to the Police station, in a sort of optical pot pouri, with Khales, Burris, Weaver, Hendsolt & Leupold all being banged together on every speed bump, corner or pot hole.
It is enough to make a gun guy cry.
When Police arrive, respectfully take command of the situation by polite suggestion.
Suggest that there shall be difficulty with Police describing items and that to protect Police and you, it may be an idea if all items are photographed.
Put a tarpaulin, sheet Fido’s blanket, or opened out swag out and spread out all items that Police are interested in.
Then help Police describe them. If too numerous to describe, photograph them, and photograph ideally ALL objects.
My suggestion is that everyone photographs the seizure in detail. This means MTM boxes are photographed as a group on the ground, and then are opened in turn with their contents photographed.
Reloading components, are also photographed in their box and opened.
Each firearm seized is photographed, with a close up of stock, barrel and scope taking care to ensure that sunlight does not reduce the photograph of a barrel to a white streak like Darth Vader’s light sabre.
Then, photograph them being loaded into Police vehicles.
Offer to email a copy of your photographs to the Police Officers present.
Suggest to Police that each item be placed in a gun bag, or if there are an insufficient number of bags, wrap items in blankets.
Just politely point out that the firearms are quite valuable. Handling marks depreciate them, and you appreciate he is a person doing a job, and you do not want to see his boss subject to a claim for compensation down the track for damage. It’s not in his interest or yours to see the firearms damaged by poor handling.
If Police do not let you photograph, or provide no, or an inadequate receipt, complain in writing as soon as the Police leave to the OIC of the station concerned do not wait months for items to be discovered missing. Remember, an accurate record of what Police seized is essential if you are to be compensated for their loss or damage down the track.
Also, I suggest you ask to be able to access the firearms to wipe them down with an oily rag to prevent rust, and also to ensure they are out of gun bags. If this request is refused, again write and complain, and indicate that the refusal could lead to rust and an unfortunate claim against Police for compensation down the track.
It can be worth-while regularly photographing your firearms with a time / date stamped camera to provide additional potential evidence about their condition.
Join the Fight.
National Firearms Lawyer
P: (02) 6299 9690
M: 0427 280 962
Simon Munslow is a lawyer who has a lifelong interest in shooting, having acquired his first firearm at the age of nine, and has had an active interest in firearms law since writing a thesis on the topic over thirty years ago at University.
Simon Munslow practices extensively in Firearms Law matters throughout Australia.
He is a regular contributor to the Australian Sporting Shooter magazine’s website on Firearms law matters, has published articles on firearms reviews and firearms law, and occasionally is asked to comment in the broader media on firearms matters.
This article is written for general information only and does not constitute advice.
He can assist you with:
Criminal law & Administrative law and in particular that related to Firearms
• All firearms, weapons and game charges
• Avoiding & setting aside Apprehended Violence Orders
• Possession of unregistered firearms
• Unsafe transportation & storage matters
• Applications for prohibited weapons
• License Appeals
• Freedom of Information / Government Public Access matters
• Importation & Customs problems
• Advices & opinions related to Firearms law matters