Son arrested in Johnston

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Son arrested in Johnston

Postby Blast54 » Sat Apr 04, 2015 8:35 pm

Yep, My son and four friends were shooting on private property adjacent to the land fill yesterday. It is a business that was closed for business and my son was shooting with the owner's son and friends as they have done for the past ten years. The property has a 50 high dirt berm behind where they are shooting and the property is surrounded by an eight foot high chain link fence. The gate was locked and they were shooting from the open garage/bay doors into the berm.
Ten Johnston police ( 5 cars ) climbed the fence and came around the building ( in the line of fire with their guns drawn ) luckily the shooters were loading magazines at the time. All firearms were unloaded, actions clear, laying on the tables. The cops were ok until they saw two Stag AR 15s on the table when the sargent yelled out, " They have ARs, they are illegal, CUFF THEM!" All five were cuffed, all guns ( around ten ) were confiscated and all range bags and ammo were taken.
This took place at 6:00pm after work (no alcohol ) and they were released six hours later after being locked in cells at the station for most of the evening. My daughter in law was worried sick, they asked if they could use their phones which were at arms reach on a table to call their wives and were refused. They were charged with "firing in a compact area" 11-47-50 and I looked it up, they were 394' from a public road , so they are guilty of that but when they were released ( with a court date, Kent County ) they were not given their guns back or the part that really bothers me is that were not even given a RECEIPT for them! According to my son , they never even asked whose guns or equipment was who's. Sounds like they have no intentions of returning them to the rightful owners.

So, two of them taken from my son are mine that are on "permanent loan" to him. I would like to get them back immediately or at least get it in writing that the guns are there and will be returned. What would be the next best thing to do?
Thanks
Bill
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby SirSqueeboo » Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:12 pm

1) Make sure your son gets a lawyer.
2) Let lawyer force police to release the property. If there's a court date, they're being held as evidence , so don't think you'll be able to show up Monday morning to collect.
3) Make sure your son gets a lawyer.
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby choppah » Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:30 pm

'lawyer up' was a term i heard not too long ago. it is time. check if the area has any surveillance cameras for proof of firearms taken. and from my understanding, there really isn't anywhere in RI to shoot, that isn't a range/club, where you wouldn't be firing in a compact area. 394' from public rd isn't much more than a football field. considering AR's are good 300-500yds if not longer, a touch over 100yds is extremely dangerous. get a good lawyer. sorry to hear of your and your boy's troubles.
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby Blast54 » Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:00 am

choppah wrote:'lawyer up' was a term i heard not too long ago. it is time. check if the area has any surveillance cameras for proof of firearms taken. and from my understanding, there really isn't anywhere in RI to shoot, that isn't a range/club, where you wouldn't be firing in a compact area. 394' from public rd isn't much more than a football field. considering AR's are good 300-500yds if not longer, a touch over 100yds is extremely dangerous. get a good lawyer. sorry to hear of your and your boy's troubles.


Nothing dangerous about where they were shooting, and there are many places to shoot on private property, You being from Hope Valley area I am surprised you are not aware of that. This is from chapter 169 of Johnston's firearm code:

No person, not being at the time under police or military duty, shall discharge any rifle, gun, musket, pistol, air gun, spring gun, or other small arms, or any contrivance armed to discharge shot, bullets, arrows, darts or other missiles in the Town, subject however, to the following exceptions:
A.
This section shall not apply to any person who shall discharge any of the weapons described upon land owned or occupied by him; provided, however, that the person who shall discharge any of the described weapons on land owned or occupied by him shall at all times be a minimum distance of 200 yards from any occupied building or premises and a minimum distance of 200 yards from any public highway.
B.
This section shall not apply to any person who shall discharge any of the weapons described on land not owned or occupied by him only by written permission of the owner or occupant of the land on which he may shoot. Such person shall at all times carry such written permission on his person and shall show and exhibit such written permission when requested so to do; and provided further, that no one of the described weapons shall be discharged within a distance of 200 yards from any occupied building or premises and a minimum distance of 200 yards from any public highway.
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby RImike » Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:46 am

Couple things that you need to consider here, the state is going to have to prove that the firearms were being discharged from said distance because the burden of proof is on them, this would involve getting a surveyor there to officially measure the distance from where the muzzles of the firearms where to where the public road starts which could be a property line (which is subjective and if there isn't photos/videos of any shooting the basis of the states case becomes hearsay and can't then be admitted as evidence, because they have to prove that the firing was done within the specified distance). If there is evidence of the shooting, then like I said the state is going to have to get a surveyor and get an official measurement.

However, the crux of the matter is that 11-47-50 has no reference to public highway, so I don't understand how they charge someone for something not in a statute:
§ 11-47-50 Firing without landowner's permission – Firing in compact area. – (a) Every person, not being at the time under military duty, who shall discharge any firearm, "BB gun", or other contrivance arranged to discharge shot, bullets, arrows, darts, or other missiles within the compact part of any city or town, or who shall discharge a firearm or other contrivance elsewhere, except upon land owned or occupied by him or her or by permission of the owner or occupant of the land on or into which he or she may shoot, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be subject to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), or one year in prison, or both; provided, that any city or town may by ordinance permit the discharge on non-posted land.

(b) The provisions of this section shall not apply to the owner of land who uses, or who gives permission to another to use without charge, a recurve, compound or longbow, provided that they are not used within two hundred fifty feet (250') of a dwelling house.

However, no where in the statue is a compact area defined, further more, since your son had land owner permission and the way the statue reads "except upon land owned or occupied by him or her or by permission of the owner or occupant of the land on or into which he or she may shoot" which would mean the the preceding text of the state's stature is essentially irrelevant.

You mention the town ordinance, which to my knowledge, no one has really challenged the state preemption law that I am aware of 11-47-58:
§ 11-47-58 Firearms – State preemption. – The control of firearms, ammunition, or their component parts regarding their ownership, possession, transportation, carrying, transfer, sale, purchase, purchase delay, licensing, registration, and taxation shall rest solely with the state, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.


Actually this could become an interesting case if the basis is 11-47-58 as 11-47-50 could not be applied on face face value. The outcome of this case could have other impacts as a round about way to compel towns to follow state laws, instead of trying to create laws/ordinances as they feel like. You should start up a crowd sourced funding, I would gladly contribute to this as I am sure others would as well. While your son would be directly affected by a properly funded legal challenge that could result in favorable results for him, there are many people throughout the entire state that could be indirectly affected by this case.
Last edited by RImike on Sun Apr 05, 2015 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby Uncle Fester » Sun Apr 05, 2015 4:30 am

That sucks Bill. I'm going to agree with others on here and suggest getting a lawyer right away. If you don't have one already I've heard good things about Keith Langer. His Web persona is kind of off putting, but from what I understand he's a hell of a lawyer and specializes in firearms law. If I heard right he's pretty big into ipsc too.

http://kglangerlaw.com/
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby Blast54 » Sun Apr 05, 2015 4:52 am

Thanks for all the replies. Some thought has to go into this.
It is a misdemeanor charge so do you get a lawyer with a $5K retainer to represent you?
Mike brings up some good points that are worth considering.
Main concern up to this point is getting the guns back.
Going to sleep on it. Thanks again.
Bill
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby newportri » Sun Apr 05, 2015 5:16 am

I agree that getting a lawyer is the best thing to do, but that will cost a few thousand dollars. Based on the little I know about this case, I doubt they will be convicted of anything, but it could be an expensive experience.
The police are holding the firearms until their "invstigation" is over, and even then I think they will give you as hard a time as possible to get them back. If/when they get an attorney, ask the attorney to ask the judge to order the firearms returned immediately. There is no dispute of what happened and there shouldn't be a need for them to hold on to the firearms. If they don't comply, maybe you can get some help from the ACLU like this guy from Cranston did over a similar issue:
http://www.riaclu.org/news/post/aclu-settles-lawsuit-over-unlawful-seizure-of-weapons-by-cranston-police

There is something fishy about this whole thing story and maybe the Johnston police just wanted to try out their military equipment:
http://www.providencejournal.com/news/government/20121205-johnston-police-gearing-up-thanks-to-military-surplus.ece
I have not really seen a definition of a "compact area", but I always considered this to be a "downtown" or "residential area". Remember former Rep. Petrarca who shot a hole in his coat outside a club (Karma) in Providence? That's what I call a compact area (there is a link to the police report)..
http://www.rifol.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=89&p=275&hilit=petrarca#p204
What was the zoning in the area the shooting happened?
It almost looks like someone didn't like them shooting there and wanted to teach them a lesson (either the neighbors or the police)..
You should probably also get a copy of the police report.
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby choppah » Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:05 pm

Blast54 wrote:
Nothing dangerous about where they were shooting, and there are many places to shoot on private property, You being from Hope Valley area I am surprised you are not aware of that.


i didn't really get into firearms until i was out of that area. i really got into firearms when i moved to providence when i was 15. living near camp street and then broadway and then atwells in the 90's will make any sane person look into firearms. and because of RI hunting laws(rifle caliber limits) i just assume the entire state is a compact area. not many places left where there isn't a dwelling/road 200yds or less away. that being said, i do believe it was/could have been dangerous. shooting a rifle that is solid to 500yds within just over 100yds to people in cars is by definition dangerous. thus that particular law which i am surprised is only 200yds and not further knowing the law makers in this state. not sure where you're located but me being in johnston and not too far from PD station let me know if there is anything i can do. grab forms and snail mail, ect...maybe save you a trip if you're far out. good luck bill.
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Re: Son arrested in Johnston

Postby Blast54 » Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:58 pm

Thanks Choppa,
The key here is that there is no access to target area ( 8' fence ) and the fact that there is a 50' high earthen berm behind the target. If you look at most gun clubs there are many houses within rifle/handgun range. With common sense, the projectiles are confined to the shooting area. Yes, most shooters that I know have a fair amount of common sense ;)
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