You have a right to keep and bear arms in your own home, right? Sure, just show your deed to the judge after your’re arrested for it.
Imagine that you’ve just arrived at home and walked in to the house. As usual, you have a holstered handgun on you, but you don’t have it concealed at your own home. Seconds later a police officer bursts in and arrests you for the gun you are carrying.
That’s ridiculous, right? You have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms in your own home! Right?
Here’s what the 4th DCA said about that scenario the day after independence day this year.
“Here, all three criteria were satisfied:
(1) the officer saw the gun from a place he had a lawful right to be, that is, outside of the defendant’s fenced-in yard;
(2) the incriminating nature of the gun was immediately apparent to the officer based on his experience of having seen thousands of handguns; and
(3) the officer had lawful access to the gun because exigent circumstances existed, that is, the need to seize the gun to protect the officers’ safety.”
Bethel v. State, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 10802 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. July 5, 2012)
That’s right, a police officer driving by who sees a gun through the window can crash down your front door and arrest you at gunpoint for having a gun in your own home by claiming that he needed to stop his car, get out, and seize your holstered handgun for his own safety. After all, it may not have been “your home” and you were carrying openly.
*** Update ***
I need to make it crystal clear that the scenario where an officer kicks in your door to arrest you is hypothetical and that is not what happened to Mr. Bethel.
Bethel deserved jail and hot pursuit in to the curtilage of his home was OK.
The Court however went farther than that. The situation I lay out for illustrative purposes is completely feasible given this overreaching decision. Making an officer’s sight of a gun an exigent circumstance because they need to seize the gun to protect the officers’ safety is a huge problem.