Thursday, November 14, 2013

Game Warden Files--Felons With Guns

One of the realities of law is that convicted felons can't own guns unless they meet one of several conditions. Few have met those conditions. Most don't pay attention or just don't care.

The arrests for this came to us by many means. My first one was my first weekend after moving upstate while working a case with Trooper Bruce Gardinier. It was a pretty simple discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling.  While we were talking to the defendant, he asked if the charge was a felony.  I told him that it was not, and he said "Good, I don't need any more felonies." We ran his history and sure enough, he had a felony conviction. That was probably the easiest weapon case I ever made.

Another came from lovers' quarrels. I had a call from a guy whose wife had moved out and been living with another man. The jilted husband called to tell me that the new boyfriend was a convicted felon and a deer hunter. The records proved that he was a felon, and I had seen him afield with a firearm not long before, so with the help of the local PD we did a search warrant and knocked on his door early one morning, making an arrest on the girl for marihuana possession in the process.

Another good source of weapon cases was that when we investigated hunting related shooting incidents we often found that one or more person involved had either a felony or other conviction that made it illegal to own a gun. Sometimes it was the shooter, sometimes a witness and occasionally the victim who would get arrested. One event took me into Gloversville to arrest a guy who had been one of the many people in an event in which someone was injured. A check of criminal histories revealed that he was prohibited from owning a gun.  Along with Bob Johnson from Gloversville PD, I picked him up, processed him and took him back to his home. We got into a discussion about the issues of the law and he mentioned that his neighbor was a convicted rapist who had done prison time and he was hunting regularly. Bob and I went next door for a chat. Since I'd been doing an investigation regarding some illegal activity and his car did resemble a suspect vehicle, we started talking about where he hunted, what he'd seen and finally what he had been hunting with. When I asked him what guns he was using he showed me a couple guns which I took out of his hands and handed off to Bob; then we cuffed him and walked him out of his house. That was easy.

The capstone of my career involved a felon with a gun; but that story will wait until I've exhausted the other stories.

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