Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pondering Guns

Thinking a little bit about the controversy surrounding the D.C. Gun Ban and the political and legal firestorm it has produced, I have been wondering about the following hypotehtical:

If someone has a concealed-carry permit, does that person have the right to surreptitiously bear arms on the private property of another (i.e. a ranch, home, private nightclub, or business building, etc.) who bans firearms on his property? Also, does a property owner have the right to conduct a physical search of someone on his or her property for concealed weapons?
I ask these questions because I'm just not sure of the legality of the issue. I know that the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives a person the constitutional right to bear arms, but I know that there are limits to such a right, as there are to any rights. Just how far does the right to bear arms go and how does it match up against the rights of individual property owners to limit those rights in the exercise of their own rights?

5 comments:

Eric said...

I just renewed my concealed-carry permit and had to take a refresher course, so I can answer these questions as they relate to Oklahoma law.

"If someone has a concealed-carry permit, does that person have the right to surreptitiously bear arms on the private property of another (i.e. a ranch, home, private nightclub, or business building, etc.) who bans firearms on his property?"

No. You do not have a right to carry a firearm on your person on private property if the owner of that property bans firearms from the property. This includes businesses. However, in Oklahoma, individuals and businesses are not allowed prevent anyone from transporting or storing a firearm in a locked vehichle.

"Also, does a property owner have the right to conduct a physical search of someone on his or her property for concealed weapons?"

Yes, as long as the individual is given the option of leaving the premises if they do not wish to submit to a pat down.

Other places where Oklahoma law limits your right to carry:

-Bars
-Government owned property that is set aside for conducting business with the public.
-Meetings of government officials (including city council and schoolboard meetings)
-Prisons and jails.
-Professional sporting events.
-Gambling establishments.

Again, at any of these places, you are allowed to store a firearm in a locked vehichle (if you have a concealed carry permit).

Huck said...

Thanks, Eric. I was just curious. Follow-up: what can happen to a person who disregards the wishes of a property owner and brings a concealed weapon on the private property of someone knowing full well that doing so violates the property owner's wishes? Is it a misdemeanor offense? And how are such laws enforced and violation of such laws prosecuted?

Eric said...

In most cases it is a midemeanor offense with a minor fine ($200) or up to 30 days in jail, and automatic suspension of your carry permit (I forget the time period, I think it is a year for first offense).

There are some qualifications: in order for a misdemeanor to occur, the owner of the property has to have a sign posted "in plain sight" saying that no firearms are allowed on the property. If no sign is posted, they have to give you an opportunity to leave the premises or disarm before calling the police.

The law is enforced by the police. If somebody is carrying against the law, the police must be notified and they are responsible for handling the situation.

I'm not sure about the answer to your prosecution question. Since the laws require firearms to be adequately concealed, it is fairly rare for lawsuits to develop, because (to be honest) people who break the law are rarely caught since nobody ever sees their guns.
The guy who taught my concealed carry class had 6 guns on him, and you'd never have known it, even if you casually patted him on the back or shoulder. However, I assume if somebody suspects you are carrrying illegally, calls the police, and you are apprehended, then it would be prosecuted like any other midemeanor.

The only place I know where failing to follow concealed carry laws can result in a felony is if you carry at a school. The law is very particular about schools: you can't get out of your car with a gun, and you can't leave one in your car unattended. So basically, the only way you can carry in a school zone is if you don't get out of your vehichle.

Cynthia said...

my lord, this all sounds terrifying.

Eric said...

Cynthia,

Blame Huck. He asked!

Seriously though, if we do have a right to keep and bear arms, then our laws need to address situations where this right might engage or impede other rights, and these are exactly the kinds of questions that need to be asked. Even if they make us a bit uncomfortable.

In fact, much of the reason you need a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon is so the state can make sure you understand these issues and how the law applies to them.