Police Complaints: Pc News

May the police stop you just because you are carrying a gun?

Albuquerque police recently arrested a man for no other reason than that he was seen carrying a weapon. The criminal case has been dismissed and the arrested man is now preparing to sue the officers, the police department and the City of Albuquerque.

The arrest was illegal and unconstitutional because the officers had no reason to believe the man was engaged in any criminal activity. He was arrested only because he was carrying a gun. Bogus criminal charges were invented to justify his arrest.

An interesting article in Police Chief Magazine outlines the legal issues very clearly. From the article, Chief’s Counsel: Responding to Gun Possession Reports by John M. Collins, Esq., General Counsel, Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts:

Because it is legal in most states to carry a handgun if properly licensed, a report that an individual possesses a handgun, without any additional information suggesting criminal activity, might not create reasonable suspicion that a crime is being or will be committed. Where simply carrying a handgun is not in itself illegal and does not constitute probable cause to arrest, it follows that carrying a handgun, in and of itself, does not furnish reasonable suspicion justifying a Terry stop.

[T]he U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 ruled that an anonymous tip that a person is carrying a gun is not sufficient to justify a police officer’s stop and frisk of that person…. The Court declined to adopt the “firearms exception” to Terry’s requirement of reasonable suspicion. Similarly, in another 2000 Supreme Court case, an anonymous tip with a physical description and location that a person had a gun was not enough for reasonable suspicion, absent anything else to arouse the officer’s suspicion.

The article is objective, thorough, and well-cited to case law including important Supreme Court cases. Read the complete article for all the details.

For the latest info about the local civil rights lawsuit, see the complete Case History.