Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wisconsin Carry Wins Appeal: Court Orders Return of Gun

On March 13, 2012, Aaron C. Ols went to the park across the street from his house to confront a man, his fiancee, their two children and dog who were in the park after hours.   The park was closed at 8 pm.  Animals were not allowed in the park.    Sunset was at 6:56 PM, so this was after dark.

An argument ensued.  Ols retreated to his property, and was followed by the other man.    Ols repeatedly told the man to leave.  The man threatened to kill Ols, who then drew his firearm, pointed it at the ground, and called police.

The police arrived, arrested Ols, and confiscated his gun.   He was later charged with disorderly conduct while armed, which was amended to a municipal ordinance violation of disorderly conduct, to which Ols  plead no contest.    He was ordered to pay the fine.

In January of 2013, Mr. Ols asked the Milwaukee gun court to order the return of his firearm.   The court refused, claiming that it could not do so because Ols had used the gun in the commission of a crime:

WIS. STAT. § 968.20, which provides in pertinent part:
(1) Any person claiming the right to possession of property
seized ... may apply for its return .... The court shall ... hold
a hearing to hear all claims to its true ownership. If the
right to possession is proved to the court’s satisfaction, it
shall order the property, other than contraband ... returned...
(b) If the seized property is a dangerous weapon or
ammunition, the property shall not be returned to any
person who committed a crime involving the use of the
dangerous weapon or the ammunition....

Mr. Ols, with the help of Wisconsin Carry, appealed the court ruling.

 The Appeals court ruled that the City had not presented any evidence that Mr. Ols had used his firearm to commit disorderly conduct, and reversed the circuit court decision.   Mr. Ols should have his firearm returned shortly.

There is a tendency for urban courts to confiscate firearms from citizens without good reason, and a tendency for urban police to confiscate them without due process.   While it is good that there is a system in place for a citizen to petition the court for return of property, such a petition may cost more than the property is worth.     Property that is not ordered forfeited by a court should be returned promptly to the person it was taken from.    If it is not, it amounts to an extra legal punishment.

This ruling is a step in the right direction.   It may serve as a check against a bias in the courts against returning firearms to their lawful owners.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten Permission to share granted as long as this notice is included.

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