No good deed goes unpunished — that’s a lesson George Boggs of Fayetteville, North Carolina, learned earlier this month when he voluntarily turned his handgun over to the local police for safe-keeping while he went into the hospital following an automobile wreck. When Mr. Boggs (who maintains a valid concealed-carry permit for the handgun) later attempted to retrieve his firearm, the police said, sorry, we’ve sent it out for ballistics testing and can’t give it back to you yet.
Apparently the police in North Carolina believe themselves empowered to retain a law-abiding citizen’s firearm, and test it to see if it matches any firearms or ammunition on which the police have records that were used in crimes, regardless of whether they have any suspicion whatsoever that the firearm is illegal or has ever been used in the commission of a crime. And, the police do this even if the person has voluntarily and temporarily left a firearm with the police for safe keeping. In this case also, the owner of the handgun did not want the firearm fired because it had never been fired since he purchased it new, and he believed its value would be diminished.
Tough luck, according to the law enforcement authorities; so long as they get a firearm — however they get a firearm — they keep it as long as they want to test it, and , if it matches ballistically with some record they have, they would keep it indefinitely.
So much for property rights. So much for Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. And so much for being a good citizen. When it comes to firearms, many law enforcement agencies believe they can do pretty much whatever they want, whenever they want, to whoever they want.