Previous Post
Next Post

By Wesley Hartman

In the autumn of 2010 I was 19 years old. I worked for Taco Bell. I had no car and I typically rode my bicycle the six or so miles to and from work. I hated it. I hate fast food, and I hate bicycles. They are a pain in the ass, and it was only a matter of speed that kept me riding one. I had to ride through some less-than-savory parts of my town on my route to work. During the day, this was no problem, but since I usually ended my shift late at night, I was uncomfortable making the trip unarmed. I didn’t have an Indiana carry permit, which is required for any form of carry in Indiana. I did, however, have . . .

a black powder revolver, a reproduction of a Colt Model 1851 in .44 caliber. After checking the laws and discovering that even current-production black powder weapons were not considered firearms under Indiana or federal law, I thought that might be a viable option. Not optimal, but acceptable until I got the scratch together to pay for my permit in the Hoosier State.

I would like to preface the following story with the fact that I had never been in trouble with the law prior to the events I will describe, and I have never been in trouble with the law since.

I took the pistol with me on a couple of rides, being very careful to hide it well in my backpack while at work. It was unloaded at this time because I was very slim on funds and wanted to get a feel for it. Yes, I understand that I was very, very stupid. Incredibly stupid. Impossibly stupid. To even think an unloaded firearm of any sort was a good idea was a colossal mistake. I understand that now. It’s not something I’m proud of.

One night in the early days of November, I was riding home with this revolver on my hip underneath my jacket. I was riding in the street because bicycles aren’t permitted on public sidewalks. A siren went off briefly behind me, and red-and-blue lights were flashing all about. My heart rate skyrocketed.

I stepped off the bike as the officer approached. He asked me what I was doing riding in the street. I told him that, as I understood it, bicycles were not permitted on the sidewalk. He told me that it was technically true, but that this late at night it could and would be overlooked. Then I got even stupider.

I believed he was going to search me, so I told him about the revolver on my hip. Yes, I know…STFU. But I didn’t know that then and I figured that if he was going to search me anyway, then I better tell him right up front to avoid any nasty surprises.

His hand went to the butt of his weapon and he instructed me to keep my hands up. He asked me where it was, and I told him, punctuating it by nodding my head towards the revolver. To the officer’s credit, he never drew his weapon as he pulled mine from its holster. His buddy, who pulled up shortly after he’d confiscated the weapon, proceeded to pat me down, and discovered two of my pocket knives, which weren’t really an issue. I was then cuffed and detained as they searched my backpack. One of the officers and I discussed the stupidity of federal gun laws.

A third officer pulled up (must have been a really slow night) and he proceeded to berate me for being a complete idiot for not only carrying a weapon without a permit but for carrying an unloaded weapon without a permit. I made a brief attempt to explain my thought process, that black-powder reproductions weren’t considered firearms as I understood it, but I didn’t push it too hard.

They finished searching my stuff, and they called the owner of the bike that I was riding. I had borrowed it from a friend. To make matters more awkward, the friend in question was the son of our deputy police chief, and the officer who made the initial stop and made the arrest was the brother of one of my English teachers in high school. At that moment, I hated living in a smallish town.

My rights were read, and I was arrested and placed in the back of the cruiser. After the bike was picked up, the arresting officer climbed into the driver’s seat and we started towards the county jail. I asked so many questions of him that he must have been ready to pull his hair out by the time we arrived. The foremost of which was: can I ever own firearms after this? He told me that yes, I probably could because I was only being charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, Carrying a Firearm without a Permit.

This didn’t really put me at ease, honestly. I know now that cops aren’t always legal experts, and I knew it then too. Still, it gave me some hope.

The processing was uneventful.I underwent a second search, and the guard processing me was pleasant enough. I made my one phone call. The officer made it very well known how cooperative I was, and I was placed in a cell with two of their “best” inmates: marijuana arrests. My roommates were actually some very pleasant people, and they were kind to a very frightened 19-year-old who’s worst offense up until this night had been a couple of automotive moving violations.

I was able to post bond the next day and I spent the next few months going to group hearings and meeting with my public defender. He was just about as useful to me as a bicycle would be to a fish. By the time February rolled around, the prosecutor offered me a plea agreement which entailed 20 hours of community service, one year of unsupervised probation (the “Just Don’t Get In Trouble Again” clause), and to “attempt to acquire an Indiana carry permit”.

I agreed to the bargain because it seemed a hell of a lot better than sitting in jail for a year and being fined $5,000. The judge was a very fair man with a stern demeanor and a hook for a hand. During the guilty plea hearing, he actually asked the prosecutor to remove the community service requirement because I had never been in trouble and had just made a mistake. When given the opportunity to speak, I asked if I would ever be able to get a permit to carry, and he told me that he honestly didn’t know, but it was the attempt that counted. They set a “compliance hearing” for two weeks after my guilty plea hearing, and sent me on my way.

I started the process to acquire my permit that same day, and by the week’s end I had completed everything I could. Now it was a matter of waiting to see if I’d actually get one. The date of the compliance hearing rolled around and I’d received no word. I attended with all of my documentation and presented it to the judge. He looked me in the eye, as he did in every other hearing, thanked me, and said “I don’t expect to see you in here again. Don’t prove me wrong.” I assured him I wouldn’t.

When I arrived home from the hearing, my father informed me that I had mail waiting for me, and that he wasn’t sure what it was. Intrigued, I picked up the envelope and carefully tore it open to reveal a brand new Indiana License to Carry a Handgun, valid for my lifetime with no requirement for renewal.

All in all, my experience with the American justice system could have been much, much worse. It also could have been avoided entirely if I hadn’t been such a complete moron when I was 19 years old. It turned out better than expected. Still, I was able to take some very good lessons from this:

1)    Deciding to STFU is a great idea, but if you are arrested, be as cooperative as possible. It will help you in the long run.

2)    If you feel the need to carry, do so legally. With a permit, if your state requires it.

3)    Public Defenders are pretty worthless, so it helps to have a bullet-proof case for your innocence.

4)    People who have done nothing worse than smoke weed are preferred cellmates.

In case anyone is curious, I can still buy firearms. There isn’t even a delay when they run my background check. It has, however, been difficult in some cases to get a job because of the misdemeanor. Many employers wouldn’t give me a second look when they got to that part of my application. Finally, don’t trust the legal fact that “black-powder antiques or firing reproductions” are exempt from firearms legislation. In my experience, they’re not when it counts.

Previous Post
Next Post

222 COMMENTS

  1. “Public Defenders are pretty worthless, so it helps to have a bullet-proof case for your innocence.”

    I’ve known many fine public defenders.

    But also known many that were not so good.

    Being a public defender is not the deep-end of the profit making pool in lawyer-land.

    Know the law yourself, always best way to stay out of trouble in the first place.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    • Neither is being a prosecutor,(at the deep end of the money pool I mean) but I guess that isn’t much comfort

    • Would it be possible for a good lawyer to get Dan’s charge dismissed? If black-power weapons are exempt, would the carrying charge be improper?

      • It was my charge, not Dan’s. He was just kind enough to post the article I sent. A new law in Indiana would allow me to get it expunged.

      • Yes, a competent lawyer WELL-VERSED in firearms law could have gotten the charge dropped from the get go (and an honest prosecutor would never have charged it out). A pre-1898 blackpowder replica is not a “firearm. no matter what it looks like. The statute only forbids carrying a firearm, not cap guns or pre-1898 replicas.

        • If riding a bike in the street isn’t illegal, and he wasn’t otherwise acting suspiciously, then I’m unclear on the probable cause and why the entire stop itself wasn’t illegal and any evidence it yielded ruled inadmissible.

        • It isn’t that clearcut. Such weapons are not firearms under the standard definition in California either. You can cash and carry a Ruger Old Army, mail order them, etc.

          But it is illegal to carry them where it would be illegal to carry a modern firearm.

          You have to look at the individual laws in context, especially parts that go “for purposes of this section, X means abc” It can vary. So I can cash and carry black powder, heck I can have a black powdered gun loaded in the car to and from a hunting trip, for example. But I cannot walk town Main street with it.

          I don’t know the law in Indiana well enough to say. But it might be similar.

          As far as the search goes, perfectly legal, as he volunteered the info without being asked. The cop was probably thinking of just telling him to move to the sidewalk for safety purposes.

        • Black powder weapons and other outdated arms are considered firearms under some statutes, and not under others. I know someone who was found guilty of “Reckless Discharge of a Firearm” after she fired a “warning shot” with a bow and arrow! (Not the brightest idea on her part…)

        • IAAL and everyone else. Under Indiana law black powder firearms are firearms. Black powder firearms (firearms that do not use a fixed cartridge or are made before 1899) are exempt from the requirement to have a LTCH though.

  2. Black powder guns ARE exempt from firearms legislation, the fact that your lawyer stank doesn’t make it not true. The OCT guys are always purposely getting arrested for carrying them, but I assume they have good lawyers.

    • Or being a naïve kid with a low risk option, he took it, rather than hoping a jury was capable of interpreting the law properly.

    • While black powder firearms may be exempt from federal regulation, they most certainly are NOT exempt for state regulation. Check your local laws. Although black powder arms are not regulated for the purpose of the state registration laws, they are defined as firearms for the purpose of the California Penal Code that prohibits felons and specified misdemeanants from possessing firearms. I understand that New Jersey’s laws with respect to black w firearms is much stricter than California’s.

      • Oh Mark… you know that almost anything that could possibly be considered a defensive weapon (and so much more) is outlawed in places like California, New Jersey and Washington DC… So, the question isn’t what is or isn’t “legal” there… it’s why anyone still wants to live in those places. At least anyone who still wants to defend themselves.

        • And also live in a state large enough — and far away enough from the state line — that you don’t have to worry about the laws in other jurisdictions. That poor woman from PA who didn’t know NJ was fascist is all the cautionary example one should need on that score.

          It’s nuts–just nucking futs–that you can cross a line on a map and suddenly you are subject to arrest for something that harms no one and was perfectly fine on the first side of that line.

        • FWIW, some of us are stuck. I’m in the People’s Democraic Republic of Mexifornia, living on $930/mon. Soc. Sec, so can’t afford to move and have noplace to go anyway.

    • Just because Black powder are not federally viewed under firearms background checks etc, many states still consider anything that basically goes boom under conceal carry laws and restrictions, that INCLUDES BALL AND CAP PISTOLS.

      • They are exempt in Florida under Florida Statute. However, I wouldn’t want to be the one having to educate flat foots.

  3. “Indian” carry permit? I’d recommend open carry bro. I meet very few that are sober around here. Would you be in trouble for carrying an intoxicated warrior?

    • You can blow a .28 in Pennsylvania and legally carry your gun of choice. Either OC or concealed with your Pennsylvania LTCF.

      One of the things PA got right. Although how, I have no idea.

      • .28? Are you sure? That’s a B.A.C. teetering on the edge of blackout. Like, almost alcohol poisoning level.

  4. So, um, how heavy are Indians? Do you carry them often?

    just kidding, good story, thank you for sharing.

  5. Man, that sucks that the legal system did not follow its own law in regard to their own definition of black powder firearms not being legally defined firearms.

    Didn’t the judge care about the law at all? Or did you have a mistaken idea of what the law actually meant?

    • Unless someone challenges the interpretation of a particular law, the judge is not going to research it. And although we are all presumed to know the law, the fact of the matter is that it is literally impossible to even read all of them, much less “know” them and properly interpret and apply them. In this case, the judge probably did not even know that it was a black powder revolver since the PD never asserted the exemption–it is doubtful that he had researched the law either. He never saw the evidence, and only saw the charge, which did not specify the pistol that was being carried concealed without a license. The criminal courts are absolutely swamped with hundreds of cases that must be processed every day just to keep the system running, even in smallish towns.

  6. 1) Deciding to STFU is a great idea, but if you are arrested, be as cooperative as possible. It will help you in the long run.

    3) Public Defenders are pretty worthless, so it helps to have a bullet-proof case for your innocence.

    These statements are not good advice.
    If arrested, continue to STFU. Remember that bit about “anything you say can and will be used against you”?
    If arrested, be polite, comply with all commands, but do not cooperate with the people who are trying to send you to prison. I’d rather spend a night in the bad holding cell and then go home, than spend a night in the good holding cell in exchange for inadvertently providing the information that gets me a year in real prison.

    Public defenders might be pretty worthless, but so is innocence in some cases. Don’t assume that you can beat a skilled prosecutor in the eyes of the judge.
    The correct preparation is to have a lawyer on retainer, or have an account with one of the companies that will pay to defend you from gun-related criminal charges.

    • SCOTUS recently found the STFU can be used against you. In order to get the protection of the 5th, you must state you are taking the 5th. I don’t recall if taking the 5th is only applicable once arrested, meaning you can’t take the 5th prior to being arrested.

      Just because I know someone will say BS, you’re just geezing, Gene:

      http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/06/opinion-recap-if-you-want-to-claim-the-fifth/

      http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/salinas-v-texas/

      • Well, of course.

        Miranda kick in when you’re under arrest. Not before.

        If you’re NOT YET under arrest, no Miranda, and what you say and what you DO NOT say can be used against you.

        Know the law.

        Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • The right is against self incrimination. Anything that would constitute incriminating oneself you have a right not to do. The supreme court gets things wrong all the time.

        • While Miranda rights only apply in custodial interrogations, the 5th Amendment always applies. So be nice and STFU is fair advice.

        • “The supreme court gets things wrong all the time.”

          Sure they do.

          It’s STILL THE LAW. It will still get a muzzle against your head, a jail door slamming shut on your life.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • “While Miranda rights only apply in custodial interrogations, the 5th Amendment always applies. So be nice and STFU is fair advice.”

          Hahahaha! I’m guessing you’re not a lawyer, right? Just guessing.

          Good luck with THAT strategy.

          No credible defensive force trainer today advocates the “be nice and STFU” policy. You’d have to be an idiot to do so.

          Oh, wait. Sorry.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • Andrew, @LawSelfDefense, yes, I am a lawyer (35 years) and my clients are walking around free while yours are doing hard time.

        • “Andrew, @LawSelfDefense, yes, I am a lawyer (35 years) and my clients are walking around free while yours are doing hard time.”

          Right. That’s what a lawyer would say.

          Anybody who has done criminal defense and doesn’t have a client doing hard time has never practiced criminal defense.

          You lying, despicable fraud.

          In what state do you practice, you fake?

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • I believe Ralph just p0wned LoSD.

          And to the original poster: from what I gathered reading the details of that atrocious decision, it was fairly specific to the situation. The guy had started talking, but then clammed up without explicitly invoking the right.
          (Ralph, or another pro, can correct me if I’m wrong).

          As for the STFU advice, it’s not literally to STFU, that’s just a clever simplification. The gun defense lawyers I’ve consulted on the subjects say the correct response is something along the lines of: “I choose not to answer that question until I have discussed it with my attorney.”

        • “I believe Ralph just p0wned LoSD.”

          When “Ralph,” the “lawyer” who won’t tell us in what state he practices or what his Bar number is, can explain to the rest of us how he practiced criminal defense for 35 years and NEVER had a client do hard time, I’ll concede to being “p0wned.”

          So, what do you say, “Ralph”? Ready to man up?

          FYI, anybody interested in checking on MY credentials, just type “Andrew” and “Branca” into the indicated fields here: http://massbbo.org/bbolookup.php

          How about YOU, “Ralph”?

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • No credible defensive force trainer today advocates the “be nice and STFU” policy. You’d have to be an idiot to do so.

          Why would anyone go to a defensive force trainer for legal advice? You’d have to be an idiot to do so.

        • “Why would anyone go to a defensive force trainer for legal advice? You’d have to be an idiot to do so.”

          I don’t know either. But they do. I guess you’ll have to ask THEM why.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • Andrew, I checked out your site:
          Andrew F. Branca, Esq., is the foremost expert in U.S. self defense law across all 50 states
          That sounds like the kind of self-felating BS I’d expect from someone who’s more interested in the appearance of ability than actual ability.

          If you’re done being childish, why don’t you try constructive contributions, rather than petty antagonism?

          • If you’ve seen my blog you’ve seen HUNDREDS of self-defense law posts, instructional videos, podcasts, statutes, jury instructions, court decisions, all dealing with the lawful use of force in self-defense.

            ALL. FREE.

            If you know some other attorney making a similar contribution to the self-defense community, I’d be pleased to know who they are.

            Sure, I’ll wait.

            –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • “Why would anyone go to a defensive force trainer for legal advice? You’d have to be an idiot to do so.”

          I don’t know either. But they do. I guess you’ll have to ask THEM why.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Well, I suppose if you’re the local gun law “expert”, going outside the legal community for advice would be better. But in areas with less bombastic attorneys, the attorney is probably a better choice.

        • “Well, I suppose if you’re the local gun law “expert” ”

          Who claims to be THAT?

          I claim no particular expertise in “gun law.”

          I guess you’re referring to . . . I don’t know, who ARE you referring to?

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • I claim no particular expertise in “gun law.”

          You should probably remove this bit from your website then:
          Andrew F. Branca, Esq., is the foremost expert in U.S. self defense law across all 50 states
          And if you wish to pedantically argue that your site says “self defense law”, not “gun law”, I’m curious how you can argue a case about self defense, without knowing gun laws, given that the gun is the primary self defense tool in the country. Also there’s the bit about how you teach for Sig, a major firearm manufacturer.

        • “You should probably remove this bit from your website then:
          Andrew F. Branca, Esq., is the foremost expert in U.S. self defense law across all 50 states”

          If you don’t understand the difference between “gun law” and “self defense law,” I don’t imagine there’s anything at all I could do to help you.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • So then you are going to try to pretend that gun laws aren’t extremely applicable to self defense law…
          I don’t think anyone here is stupid enough to fall for that one.

          But anyone capable of elementary school level reading comprehension would realize that my original use of the term “gun law” was specifically about guns in self defense.
          So either your reading skills barely exceed Dick and Jane (not a good trait for a lawyer) or you’re trying to weasel away from the validity of my original claim (ironically this can be a good trait for a lawyer).

          • “So then you are going to try to pretend that gun laws aren’t extremely applicable to self defense law…”

            Gun law has nothing–ABSOLUTELY NOTHING–to do with self-defense law.

            Find me the self-defense statute that includes an actual gun law, and I’ll concede.

            Or maybe the mysterious “Ralph” can do it for you.

            Sure, I’ll wait. Oofah.

            –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • “So then you are going to try to pretend that gun laws aren’t extremely applicable to self defense law…
          I don’t think anyone here is stupid enough to fall for that one.”

          Show me one state–ONE–that has its self-defense laws and it’s gun laws in even the same statutory chapter.

          Just one.

          I suppose you’re going to claim to be a lawyer, too, huh?

          Sure, I’ll wait.

          Oofah. Nobody is more frantically aggressive than the ignorant called on their ignorance. Sad.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • Gun law has nothing–ABSOLUTELY NOTHING–to do with self-defense law.
          Really? So if I pull a gun and wave it at somebody (a gun crime), and then claim I was in fear for my life (a self defense claim), there’s no relationship?
          A good lawyer should be able to see the links.
          Also, I notice that you’re continuing to ignore the fact that when I said “gun law” I meant in relation to self defense. I cleared that up a while ago, I don’t know why you pretend that I was talking about the NFA or some other law.

          Or maybe the mysterious “Ralph” can do it for you.
          Ralph is not a mystery, he’s a respected member of our community.

          Sure, I’ll wait. Oofah.
          Is oofah the sound a douchebag makes when you empty it?

          Show me one state–ONE–that has its self-defense laws and it’s gun laws in even the same statutory chapter.
          Are the gun laws next to the murder ones? Cuz I bet those go together sometimes.

          I suppose you’re going to claim to be a lawyer, too, huh?
          HELL NO! I’m not that masochistic.
          I am, however, beginning to wonder about your claims of being a lawyer, given that you seem unable to understand how two different laws can interact.

          Oofah.
          Again that sound…

          Nobody is more frantically aggressive than the ignorant called on their ignorance. Sad.
          Do I need to point out the hypocrisy pouring off of this statement? If it helps (you do seem a bit slow) only one person here is being aggressive about his knowledge on the subject matter: the guy from “Law of Self Defense”.

        • “Ralph is not a mystery, he’s a respected member of our community.”

          Great. So what’s his real name, where did he practice law, and what is/was his bar number?

          Absent that, he’s just some anonymous dude you follow on this list.

          “Are the gun laws next to the murder ones? Cuz I bet those go together sometimes.”

          No. They’re not. Such ignorance.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • Great. So what’s his real name, where did he practice law, and what is/was his bar number?
          Absent that, he’s just some anonymous dude you follow on this list.

          I don’t give a rat’s ass what Ralph’s legal credentials are. A law degree doesn’t imply insight, intelligence, or maturity (case in point: you). I judge Ralph based on the value of his comments here, and on the stories he occasionally posts. And based on that criteria, he’s infinitely more credible than you.

          “Are the gun laws next to the murder ones? Cuz I bet those go together sometimes.”
          No. They’re not. Such ignorance.

          I never claimed to be knowledgeable about the layout of the legal code, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked (really a lawyer should have better deductive skills than you display…). But the point still stands, and is quite valid: gun laws and murder laws sometimes interact.

        • I personally find your attitude repulsive, Andrew. If your intent was to gather interest in your site (spam, as most of us would call it), you’re falling on your face.

        • I don’t know Andrew.

          I don’t know Ralph.

          I know which one I never wish to meet–because he behaves like an ass–and wish would go the hell away, and it’s not the one with the shorter name.

      • You can be silent when a LEO is interacting with you, no stipulations. You must only comply with LAWFUL orders.

        • Your silence CANNOT be used against you if you assert your fifth amendment privilege not to testify. And Ralph is (or is a retired) a lawyer, a criminal lawyer in fact. I am a lawyer too–and Ralph is exactly correct. You can be interrogated the e long prior to being arrested, and anything you say prior to arrest can and will be used against you. You are not entitled to Miranda warnings until your are arrested. No one is required to cooperate with the police, and it is often if not always counterproductive to do so without the presence of your attorney.

        • “No one is required to cooperate with the police.”

          Maybe.

          But your refusal to do so CAN be used against you in court.

          No real lawyer would claim otherwise.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • Yep, a whole new body of case law sez that simply remaining silent revokes your right to remain silent. You have to affirmatively claim your rights in order to not have them overridden by default. I’d say it’s Kafkaesque, but Kafka never could have thought up anything this bizarre.

          On the stop itself, it doesn’t sound like they have PC for ever stopping him, unless of course they stopped him for a headlight violation.
          Wesley, did your borrowed bike even have lights on it?

      • What’s wierd is prior to the event of being arrested, whatever you say (or silence) can be used and you cannot invoke the 5th because arrest has not happened. After arrest, you can invoke it, then silence (with some rules) cannot be used against you. At least I think it’s that way, but IANAL.

        • Not true. You can refuse to answer a question at any time. Getting arrested doesn’t increase your rights.
          Something such as, “Respectfully, I choose not to answer that question/any questions without consulting my attorney,” is a good generic statement to memorize.

        • “Not true. You can refuse to answer a question at any time. Getting arrested doesn’t increase your rights.
          Something such as, “Respectfully, I choose not to answer that question/any questions without consulting my attorney,” is a good generic statement to memorize.”

          What you DON’T say PRIOR to Miranda most certainly CAN be used against you.

          That’s not even contestable criminal defense law.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • So, you’re suggesting that one can invoke the 5th and have it’s protections prior to arrest? And merely stating during an “interview” that you’d prefer not to answer could not be used against you (with or without mentioning Lawyer)?

        • What you DON’T say PRIOR to Miranda most certainly CAN be used against you.

          I’d love to see some specifics on this.
          I would expect that a cop could see my refusal to answer questions before Miranda as evidence of guilt, which might make him pursue me more eagerly. But it seems ludicrous that a prosecutor could tell the jury I refused to talk to the police before my arrest and therefore I must be guilty.

          • “I’d love to see some specifics on this.”

            I don’t work for free, but I’ll work cheap, for the entertainment value. 🙂

            Is it worth lunch? If so, I’ll send you a case next week where silence was used against a defendant.

            What say you?

            –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      • “You should probably remove this bit from your website then:
        Andrew F. Branca, Esq., is the foremost expert in U.S. self defense law across all 50 states”

        If you don’t understand the difference between “gun law” and “self defense law,” I don’t imagine there’s anything at all I could do to help you.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • wait, wait, wait a dam minute now! I am confused about this “new” ruling…and I am sure I am not the only one.
          Mr. Branca, I follow you at your site and at Legal Insurrection, and up until this last “ruling” I was [even as a Military Police] under the impression that stfu was a good thing to do [especially when being arrested, and told may a solider that being quite would be a good thing to do. So if being questioned but “not under arrest” and you can’t claim the 5th what do you say?
          Is “Are we done here, am I free to leave” good enough to end the questioning? Or would that force the officer to detain you, make the arrest or tell you your free to go [at which point unass the AO PDQ]

    • “I’d rather spend a night in the bad holding cell and then go home, than spend a night in the good holding cell in exchange for inadvertently providing the information that gets me a year in real prison.”

      The best advice to “citizens” who are stuck dealing with inquisitive cops (smart criminals already know this, stupid ones never seem to learn it) is to just assume you’re going to jail. Don’t try and explain or minimize or talk your way out of it. Don’t say a damn thing. Assume you’re going to jail and realize that if you’re smart you’ll be out in 48 hours, but if you’re stupid it could be months or years.

      • This is a really good point that I’ve never actually seen stated quite so clearly on this site. Assume you’re going to jail, and know that it’s not the end of the world. People who see an unavoidable trip to jail as the end of their entire world are inclined to do crazy things to avoid it, things that will probably not stop it from happening, and will likely cause them to end up in worse trouble than if they’d rolled with it.

        I have heard, more than once, a cop or lawyer say, “I’ve never seen someone talk their way out of an arrest once the cop decided to do so. I have seen people that were going to ultimately walk away talk their way into an arrest.”

  7. BP pistols is kind of a sticky subject and varies from state to state.

    But as others have said, sometimes whether something is legal or not depends entirely on how good of a lawyer you can afford.

  8. I still don’t get it. Why did the black powder firearm get you in trouble? I have heard of prohibited persons who kept black powder arms because it is not a “gun” under all the regs. Are you certain this was not simply a screwup on the part of the prosecutors?

  9. A blackpowder revolver is not (technically from a legal perspective) a firearm. It is however a weapon. I can’t speak for Indiana, but in my state (Iowa) you are allowed to carry ‘non-firearm dangerous weapons’ openly without a permit but not concealed. ‘Non-firearm dangerous weapons’ include things like long knives, tasers, and I would expect blackpowder revolvers. I don’t imagine the penalties would be any different, but he should have been charged with ‘carrying a concealed dangerous weapon’, not ‘firearm’.

    • Yep,

      Iowa code 702.7 DANGEROUS WEAPON.
      A “dangerous weapon” is any instrument or device designed
      primarily for use in inflicting death or injury upon a human being or
      animal, and which is capable of inflicting death upon a human being
      when used in the manner for which it was designed, except a bow and
      arrow when possessed and used for hunting or any other lawful
      purpose. Additionally, any instrument or device of any sort
      whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate
      that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon
      the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death
      upon a human being, is a dangerous weapon. Dangerous weapons include
      but are not limited to any offensive weapon, pistol, revolver, or
      other firearm, dagger, razor, stiletto, switchblade knife, knife
      having a blade exceeding five inches in length, or any portable
      device or weapon directing an electric current, impulse, wave, or
      beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a
      person.

    • Biking 12 miles a day just to work at Taco Bell would make me not only hate bicycles but life itself.

      • With a decent bike it’s no problem. Due to a foot injury making simply standing quite painful, I get most of my exercise on bikes. If you ride a bike with under-inflated tires, they are much, much, harder to pedal making it very unpleasant work. That wisdom didn’t come to me untill in my late 20’s. Letting friends ride my bikes they comment on the relative ease of pedaling.

        You only get that ease by FULLY inflating them before EVERY ride. Standard road bike tires at 120 psi take little effort to keep rolling.

        • Right tires and bike helps too.

          Properly adjusted road/hybrid bike with correctly inflated road slicks = joy!

          Cheapo huffy from walmart with absurdly unnecessary DH-style suspension and underinflated knobbies = torture!

          The latter is what many unfortunately ignorant people ride.

          Oh and shift gears. I get so tired of driving behind people furiously spinning away in high gear going nowhere.

  10. I had a less pleasant experience with a cop in Roseville Minnesota, who, while illegally searching my vehicle found my legally transported Sig 226 and asked my if I wanted a “fucking gun pointed at my face.”

  11. I’m just lucky I didn’t get caught for the stupid stuff I did when I was 19 . . . and 20 . . .and 21 and . . . on and on. Hell I’m still fairly stupid.

  12. I’m perplexed, here…

    …how many “Indian Carry Permit” Jabs will it take to convince Dan Zimmerman to correct this title?

  13. It would’ve been better if they had just checked to see if you had any warrants, chewed you out, and sent you on your way with a warning not to be an idiot in the future.

    Seriously, putting you through all that hassle was a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

  14. It really is silly arresting you for something like this, IMHO.

    When I was a boy, I had a very real looking replica of a percussion pistol. I’m not sure where it came from, but that was back in the days when Grandma and Grandpa went to those rural farm auctions, they’d bring home some very REAL looking toy guns. Perhaps that was the source of it.

    It’s funny because the handle WAS wood. The metal work was some kind of cheap pot metal, but the trigger actually actuated the hammer. Lol

    Anyway, my folks thought it was a toy. I remember bringing the damned huge, heavy thing outside and playing with it out in the streets of South St. Louis.

    Would I have thrown that in a back pack and pedaled on in to Taco Bell with it, I too would have likely been arrested.

    These cops probably had nothing better to do than bust your balls about that. But looking back at it, you received your Indiana Carry Permit. Good for your lifetime.

    And that, Sir, is priceless. Thanks for sharing.

  15. To answer some questions:

    Yes, a black powder firearm is not considered a firearm by law. My public defender refused to use that argument. To give some more perspective, I literally used the only money I had to pay the permit fees, and I worked fast food. Couldn’t really afford a lawyer of my own, and had to be provided with one. I took the plea to avoid the risk of a trial.

    By “cooperative”, I don’t mean tell them everything. As it has been stated in the comments, I mean to be polite and passive. It really helped me with the officers and the guards.

    And remember, I already admitted mistakes. Also, if you pick your Indian right, it’s not too heavy. Finding the proper holster is the tricky part.

    Yes Dan, I hate bicycles. No problem with those that ride, but the bicycles themselves. Can’t stand ’em.

    • That’s what I was thinking about the Indian too. If you choose carefully and find one that’s easy to carry along with selecting a comfortable holster, you’ll carry it all the time. Concealment on the other hand is another story.

      Great article by the way.

    • If the conviction is still on your record, and if you are in a position now to afford it, you may want to consult with an attorney about getting it expunged. There’s a lot wrong with your arrest and conviction, and you may have a good chance. Even a misdemeanor can haunt you for life. That’s very strange that the public defender refused to even bring up that black powder guns are not legally considered firearms (although maybe they are in Indiana, I don’t know.)

      • They aren’t firearms in Indiana, but my public defender refused because it was easier on him for me to take the plea, I’m sure. I don’t agree with it, but I do plan on getting it expunged.

        And thank you, jack in the Crack, and everyone else who’s enjoyed the article.

          • Says Ralph, the self-claimed 35-year career criminal defense attorney who has never had a client do hard time.

            You interested in buying a bridge?

            Also, have any interest in knowing how “expunged” expunged records are? Not as much as you might think.

            But I’ll let “Ralph” explain it.

            –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        • Hey Andrew, you seem a bit new here, so I’ll point out that Ralph is established and respected on this site.
          You might want to tone down the dickishness from an 8 to about a 3.

        • I’m gonna second JasonM’s comment. I can’t recall a single post from Ralph that has presented bad/false information. I am also disinclined to listen to someone who claims to be the Baron of Self Defense Law. If that were true, your reputation would have preceded you and we’d be more inclined to listen to/like you. BUT, it seems your only interest is in trumpeting your correctness while disparaging everybody else’s knowledge and opinions. That being said, please either tone it down or take your oh-so-superior ‘knowledge’ elsewhere.

        • Jason, well said. All of it.

          Andrew, a little healthy banter is cool, but please put away the fire hose.