New Mexico High Court Rules Cops Can Seize Guns During Traffic Stops


Go figure this one:

Police officers in New Mexico can take guns away from drivers who pose no threat. The state supreme court ruled on May 20 that "officer safety" is more important than any constitutional rights a gun-owning motorist might have. The ruling was handed down in deciding the fate of Gregory Ketelson who was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over on November 13, 2008.

During the stop, Hobbs Police Officer Miroslava Bleau saw a 9mm handgun on the back seat floorboard. Ketelson and the driver of the car were ordered out and away from the car while Officer Shane Blevins grabbed the gun. The officers later learned that Ketelson, as a convicted felon, could not legally possess a firearm. The court, however, only considered whether the officers acted properly in taking the gun before they had any reason to suspect Ketelson, who was entirely cooperative during the encounter, of committing a crime.

The court ruled that the police had acted properly, agreeing with prosecutors who said "that anyone with a gun ought to be considered 'armed and dangerous' and thus the gun could be seized at any time."

This case overturns a 2005 ruling in which the court found

"It would be anomalous to treat the mere presence of a firearm in an automobile as supporting a reasonable suspicion that the occupants are inclined to harm an officer in the course of a routine traffic stop," the court held in 2005.

Whole account at the excellent site The Truth About Cars.

Hat Tip: Jack Shafer

Reason.com on guns and gun rights.