In some small percentage of cases, a crime victim disarms their attacker. The attacker usually runs off. In one case, the bad guy even returned to ask for the gun back. My experience is that cases in which victims disarm attackers are considerably more common than the other way around. It’s not hard to understand why. The victim has a lot more to gain from snatching the bad guy’s gun, and the attacker more to lose if he continues the fight. Sometimes the victim turns the gun on the attacker, as happen in a recent case in Chicago. It happened in the 6600 block of South State Street, one of the most dangerous areas of the city.

 

From DNAinfo.com:

After the victim handed over an undisclosed item, he made a move for the gun, Antonietti said. During a brief struggle, the gun went off and Esper was shot in his back, court records show.

Esper ran off, and the victim gave the gun, a .22-caliber Taurus Ultralight, to police. Antonietti said officers recovered six live rounds and two spent rounds.

In a science fiction novel, The Probability Broach, people who disarm their attackers get to keep the appropriated weapons. It seems reasonable enough, once it’s determined that the weapon wasn’t stolen or used in another crime. Certainly, there is no reason to destroy a finely crafted self defense tool like the little Taurus shown.

The victim took a serious risk in obtaining it. He accomplished a considerable amount of societal good by preventing further crimes that would likely have been committed by the attacker using it. It only seems just that he should have it, after due process, of course.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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74 Responses to Should a Victim Who Disarms a Robber Get to Keep the Weapon?

    • Yes because it would be a good form of restitution to the victim. Even if the victim is not able to disarm the attacker they should have the option of receiving the gun if the criminal is later captured since that would be an excellent form of restitution. Criminals may be less likely to attack people if there is a risk that they will end up arming them in the end.

    • Yes, a long as it belongs to the perp, without another person’s legal claim on it, I say the Rules of Homer in the Iliad should be in effect. Take him down, take his weapon.

  1. I kind of figured if I ever disarmed an attacker who then got away, I wouldn’t even tell the cops. I might find some way the have the number run to make sure it was stolen. If it really did happen, tho, I probably would tell the cops. And they would want to keep it, of course, to auction off or something.

  2. Absolutely! Even if I kill my attacker, I’m keeping his weapon. Not like he’s going to need it anymore.

    Besides, who wouldn’t want a trophy weapon? I’d put it on display as a warning to others. We live in a more civilized age, where putting bandits’ heads on spikes outside of your home isn’t in vogue anymore. My HOA said so.

  3. Many years ago, before WV became shall issue, I was leaving a country bar when a fella fired a couple of shots at me. I always figured it was either mistaken id or he wanted to get payback on my rat bastard uncle.

    Anyways, I fired back and he scampered. I wasn’t hit and if he was I never saw anything about it in the news. Cops were few and far between in WV in those days and folks settled a lot of their problems off the books.

    I walked over to where he had been and found a Hi Standard .22 revolver laying there. I took it as a trophy.

    My future x wife asked me what if it was stolen or had been used in a killing? After some thought it went in the Ohio river.

    I guess if there was a legal and above board way to keep such a trophy I’d be for it.

  4. PIs can not divulge the identity of their clients.

    get a private detective to run a check on the serial number to see if it’s stolen. fire a round into a sandbag and see if that weapon was used in a known homicide

    then determine what to do with your known clean trophy of combat.

    • “PIs can not divulge the identity of their clients.”

      Um… yes they can. Please state your legal source.

      “get a private detective to run a check on the serial number to see if it’s stolen.fire a round into a sandbag and see if that weapon was used in a known homicide”

      You have been watching way too much Magnum PI + CSI

      • Yeah, I am pretty sure there is no such thing as a searchable database for matching bullets, that is a one-on-one thing, your PI checking that bullet against millions of crime bullets, one at a time, would take decades and cost millions.

  5. They should get to! That way the next person that tries to rob them will have an even harder time. One could rack up a good collection like this in a bad neighborhood.

  6. I’m with Ralph – it’s automatically a stolen weapon if the perp left it but didn’t really intend to officially transfer possession to you, even if he acquired it legally (ROFLMAO….). So, unless you are concerned about getting caught with a gun that’s reported stolen from some previous crime, I’d say keep the danged thing. Unless its a Hi Point, in which case it should be melted, for the children.

  7. I actually was thinking that the other day. A plaintiff who diffuses an armed conflict should be awarded the weapons as trophies.

  8. “spoils of war”, “you keep what you kill”, etc etc. I have a knife that was obtained in a similar fashion, by someone stupid enough to bring a knife to a gun fight. No shots were fired – I guess it would fall under “brandishing” had the guy who donated the knife to me wanted to involve the local constabulary? I’ll keep that knife forever – it has a special meaning to me!

      • Beat me to it. First thing I thought of when I read the headline. “Keep what you kill” seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    • For almost all of U.S. history (changed unilaterally by Bush I in the First Gulf War) American servicemen were able to keep trophy weapons. There were both formal and informal processes in place.

      We need to reinstate that tradition. We could do so legislatively.

      • After the gca 68 we could still legally bring guns back. You went thru the provost martials office and filled out a sh*t ton of paperwork. No machine guns or explosives and no American made trophies. No bringing your battle field pick up m16 home. Guys did it, but it wasn’t legal.

        I got a tt-33. I covered a bet for a buddy in a barracks poker tournament and he put it up as collateral. He lost.

        • Yeah, what a bite in the butt. I wanted to take my 4″ Python to war with me, and was told I could not, although it would have carried nicely in my vest where I carried my Combat Masterpiece, issued. Come to find out, later, I certainly could have taken it, probably could not have brought it back. Which I would have done! Even then, some stories I heard said you could not bring back anything made in America, others said you could not bring back anything ever issued to the military, and Pythons never were, I might have even gotten to keep it. Same shit for Gulf 1, so I took a 9″ Cold Steel knife instead. Had my hand on it a few times while on the ground.

      • One of my Army buddies made off with Saddam’s family photo albums he ransacked from one of his palaces. My previous 1SG ran off with one of his chairs. They obviously didn’t do the necessary paperwork or let their chain of command know.

  9. Possession, without permission, even in the course of saving your own life, is illegal and should be discouraged especially in IL, WA (I-594), DC, NJ, and NY. Better to blow your rape whistle than to blow off universal background checks. Two wrongs don’t make a right as the good book says.

    • Yeah…right. Honestly in this situation after I shot him I’d probably just put one in his head to make sure he was dead and then roll, and keep the gun. Johnny law isnt going to care. Esspecailly in an area with high gang violence.

  10. If I was in Chicago without an FOID card or in NYC? I would have ALWAYS have taken the gun from the robber. I would shrug my shoulders and not be able to explain why his prints were not on the gun. In some cases I would be confused why he had two guns to start with. Hopefully I would be able to keep my, I mean his gun/s.

  11. It seems to me that it was not misplaced, it was lost. The common law says that anyone who finds lost property has the highest claim to it other than the rightful owner.

    If the rightful owner wants to claim it, they can sue for it.

  12. Maybe?
    Since it’s technically evidence of a crime, I understand why the police would want to keep it. Afterwards though when it goes to auction or the furnace, I guess giving it to the victim would be cool.

    • This is the most logical way it could ever be done, the police would have to do their research and hold it as evidence of the crime for a pre-determined time after a trial, (if any). At that time it could come up for claim by the victim.

      But like the article says, this idea comes from a science FICTION novel… I don’t see it ever happening.

  13. I’d say yes, as long as the weapon wasn’t stolen in the first place–in which case it should be returned to its rightful owner immediately if possible.

  14. To parrot what folks are saying about returning the firearm to the owner I 100%. Although there is the chance that the firearm might have bodies on it. Meaning that the weapon has been used to commit crimes in the past or its ballistics are tied to a murder or other atrocities. Honestly unless the cool factor greatly outweighs the risk I would return it to police to deal with it. When was the last time a bad guy used a high end firearm to rob someone with? Do you think the average thug is going to use a SCAR-H to mug someone?

  15. I think no, for the simple reason that we don’t want to encourage people to attempt disarming when they should be shooting.

  16. I say yes, you should get to keep their arms. And by arms, I mean actual limbs. Let’s say, just by chance, you happen to hack off an arm, or some fingers, or maybe an ear, you should get to keep those. But you can’t eat them. That should still be against the law.

  17. My father brought a Samurai sword home from WWII. He had an order authorizing him take a “Japanese Sabre”. I have both now. I think it is a war production blade so the Japanese government would not want it but they wouldn’t get it anyway.

  18. Assuming that the firearm in question isn’t stolen and does not already have bodies on it that the police are interested in, at such a point that I have disarmed and defeated my attacker, his firearm isn’t a firearm, it’s a trophy. I’m not going to shoot it any more than the AK rounds I brought back from firefights in Iraq. I’m going to place it in a nice display box with dates and a description of the event and mount that sucker to my wall.

    That’s assuming that the cops don’t decide to take it home themselves…

  19. Seems appropriate cosmically. When one attempts robbery it is only fitting that they should forfeit assets to the intended victim.

  20. Keep it. Gun? What gun? BTW this Chicago s##t neighborhood robbery confirms my theory of why shootings are up but MURDER is down. Lots of lowlifes use 22’s or small caliber. And LOTS of teenage thugs. 60th & State is a scary place. As are vast areas of the Westside.

  21. But almost all guns used in crimes are stolen. They should be returned to the proper owner. If someone in a stolen car hit you, you don’t get to keep that car as well.

  22. I would say so after an investigation to make sure there are no deaths on the said firearm, but yes give it to the person that disarmed the bad unreasonable thief.

  23. Absolutely.

    In fact, it should be awarded to the victor by the police chief or sheriff along with a medal. And if it was stolen, the police department should buy him/her one of equal value, or $400, whichever is greater, of his choice.

    And of the victor doesn’t have a concealed carry permit, one should be issued immediately, no paperwork of any kind required.

  24. Just because someone commits a crime against you, does not give you the right to commit a crime against them. Did the perp give the gun to you? No, you took the gun without their permission. Glad you’re safe, but if you keep the gun, you effectively stole it. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and disarming someone is different than stealing a weapon from them. Now head straight to the Police Station and report the crime.

    • The author’s question was — should it be legal?
      “It only seems just that he should have it, after due process, of course.” In the sci-fi story he sights, it’s legal and predicated on the weapon not being stolen or been used in another crime.

      In which case it would not be theft. It would be a part of the restitution process for a crime victim. If the weapon was stolen, but the original owner had been paid off by his insurance company, would the weapon be provided to the insurance company? Or would the original owner get it but have to pay back the insurance company. Not familiar with how recovery of stolen property works after the insurance has paid the owner.

  25. I say no, a weapon from a perp should go into the evidence locker. Most likely it’ll be a handgun and not very fancy. Secondly, they have committed a crime with said weapon, so the odds are high that another crime has been committed with the same weapon. Thirdly, the odds are high that the weapon itself was already stolen or obtained illegally.

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