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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fourth Amendment Rights

On August 24, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of Millender v. County of Los Angeles, et al. (07-55518), affirmed that a search warrant requesting the seizure of "all handguns, rifles or shotguns of any caliber, or any firearms capable of firing ammunition..." was unlawful, when the deputies who sought the warrant were aware that they were searching for one specific firearm. This opinion confirmed the position advocated by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) Foundation in their amicus (friend of the court) brief filed in support of the Millenders on October 22, 2009. A copy of the brief, along with the opinion, other case related brief, and memorandum analyzing the opinion are posted on

No right is more clearly established under the Fourth Amendment than the right not to be subject to search and seizure under a general warrant (i.e., a warrant not based on probable cause and not particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized). And, as the Second Amendment makes clear, firearms in general are lawful to possess, and may not be seized without probable cause to believe that a specific firearm was used in a crime.

The NRA/CRPA amicus brief challenged the ability of law enforcement to write over-broad "general" search warrants which allow police to seize any and all firearms an individual may possess, even when police only have "probable cause" to search for a particular firearm. Far too often police seize legal firearms collections even when most of those firearms are not alleged to be part of a criminal offense. This is sometimes driven by a political motivation to increase gun seizure statistics so police can seek increased funding.

This deprivation of property often results in damage to the firearms and inevitably causes the owner to incur significant expense and legal fees in getting the firearms back. The purpose of the NRA/CRPA brief was to convince the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to publish a binding precedent to prevent these search and seizure abuses in the future. And the Ninth Circuit has.
Further actions to notify all California law enforcement agencies of their obligations is pending.

To fight for the self-defense civil rights of all Californians, the NRA and CRPA Foundation have joined forces to create the Legal Action Project (LAP). Through LAP, NRA/CRPAF attorneys fight against ill-conceived gun control laws and ordinances, educate state and local officials about available programs that are effective in reducing accidents and violence without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and produce valid science about game and wildlife resource management.

To contribute to the NRA / CRPAF Legal Action Project (LAP) and support this and similar efforts and Second Amendment litigation in California, visit

Joe Silvoso
Attorneys at Law
180 East Ocean Blvd., Suite 200
Long Beach, CA 90802
Main: 562-216-4444
Fax: 562-216-4445

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