Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

I can be reached at 45superman@gmail.com.You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45superman.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Legally owned (but illegally held) firearms to be destroyed

Back in June, I posted about the Oak Forest Illinois Police Department's refusal to return guns belonging to the Bouril family, but that the police had agreed to temporarily hold for safekeeping. The police, however, had other ideas, and refused to return the guns without a court order (you read that right--they claim they need a court order to return property to its rightful owner).

The legal fees that would attend the process of obtaining that court order are out of the Bouril family's reach, leaving the situation at something of an impasse.

I received an email from Mr. Bouril today, telling me that the impasse is apparently to be broken soon--but not in a good way.

A citizen voluntarily stored some firearms at a police station for safekeeping.

The citizen was told they could be left there as long as desired.

The citizen holds a valid Illinois Firearms Possession (FOID) card.

The citizen has proof of ownership of the firearms.

The citizen retains the storage inventory receipt for the firearms.

The firearms are not evidence in any case.

This citizen has requested to recover her firearms several times over the past four months, but was refused, the City stating that it requires a judge’s court order to release them, citing liability concerns in regards to her husband’s mental health.

When the citizen asked the city’s attorney to put into writing the specific laws/codes/statutes they have to override state and federal firearms property rights, they only responded with a declaration stating that they will now destroy the firearms if they are not picked up with a judge’s court order within 30 days.

(Here is a fact that shows that the city is violating this citizen’s gun and property rights): it is perfectly legal for this citizen to buy guns today and bring them home after state authorization and the waiting period. The firearms merchant is not required, and will not, question her about the mental condition or criminal convictions of her family and friends. Federal and state laws protect the dealer and the business transaction from direct liability. So….why doesn’t the city recognize those same procedural laws and liability protections?

(Excerpts from the certified letter of 17 July 08 to “the citizen” from the Ancel Glink law firm of Chicago on behalf of the City of Oak Forest, Illinois.)
…..The City has advised you on multiple occasions that it requires a court order signed by a judge prior to releasing said guns…..

……Your refusal to abide by the administrative procedures presented for the release of the aforementioned firearms is deemed evidence of abandonment of this property....

……Accordingly, we hereby advise you that if no court order to release the guns is presented to the Oak Forest Police Department within thirty (30) days of the date of this letter, the City will commence procedures to have the aforementioned six (6) weapons destroyed according to proper law enforcement procedures for the destruction of firearms as set forth by statute….
The citizen is tired from the dispute, and also, cannot afford an attorney. Can anyone give advice, or references to someone who could help?
I highlighted the last sentence, because I have no ideas of my own. Anybody with some constructive thoughts on the matter is asked to comment, or to contact me at 45superman@gmail.com.

16 comments:

Bob S. said...

Just a quick couple of thoughts.
1. I'm not sure if either or both are working, but often a benefit from companies is an employee assistance program (EAP). These programs will offer free consultation and often minimal free legal services; such as writing a letter. Some maybe able to refer to a non-profit association/firm willing to help.

Another is to see if there is a legal-aid society in the town that might help.

opaww said...

As much as some people dislike the NRA they may find help with them. They have the funding for legal actions

Sailorcurt said...

I would also submit that an attorney is not required to file a lawsuit or criminal complaint.

Having legal advice would be helpful and the citizen may not take the right actions to get the court order needed...but not acting at all guarantees that they won't.

Our court system is indeed stacked against the citizen, but taking no action at all guarantees that they'll lose.

jed said...

An attorney needs to make the request, but there's the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.

Also, maybe ISRA can offer help and/or advice.

You'd think there'd be a way to find a lawyer willing to do a little pro-bono work to get the ball rolling.

I wish I had money to throw at the problem.

45superman said...

It's my understanding that they've talked to both ISRA and the NRA--apparently without effect so far.

I do appreciate everyone's efforts.

W. W Woodward said...

Has the family talked with the district attorney and requested that theft charges be filed against the chief of police or whoever agreed to hold the weapon in "safe keeping"?

Are the weapons actually still in the PD's property room or are they now in somebody's gun cabinet at home? has any family member actually seen the firearms since the PD agreed to hold them?

45superman said...

Those are both good questions, WWW, but I don't know the answers to either.

Anonymous said...

Report them as stolen:
(720 ILCS 5/24-6) (from Ch. 38, par. 24-6)
Sec. 24-6. Confiscation and disposition of weapons.
(a) Upon conviction of an offense in which a weapon was used or possessed by the offender, any weapon seized shall be confiscated by the trial court.
(b) Any stolen weapon so confiscated, when no longer needed for evidentiary purposes, shall be RETURNED TO THE PERSON entitled to possession, if known. After the disposition of a criminal case or in any criminal case where a final judgment in the case was not entered due to the death of the
defendant, and when a confiscated weapon is no longer needed for evidentiary purposes, and when in due course no legitimate claim has been made for the weapon, the court may transfer the
weapon to the sheriff of the county who may proceed to destroy it, or may in its discretion order the weapon preserved as property of the governmental body whose police agency seized
the weapon, or may in its discretion order the weapon to be transferred to the Department of State Police for use by the crime laboratory system, for training purposes, or for any other application as deemed appropriate by the Department.

Anonymous said...

This account is so ambiguous and devoid of detail, it's practically useless. If the family is truly interested in retrieving the firearms, they need to produce a DETAILED account of the events - when they did what, how the cops got the guns, who they've talked to, what was said - and when, copies of all correspondence, a list of the make and model of guns being held, etc.

No attorney is going to waste his time trying to dig out such facts for free. And one step further - are we sure this isn't some sort of hoax? That the guns weren't seized? That there are not any other issues involved?

Under the (very skimpy) facts alleged, the cops don't seem to have ANY reason to hold the guns except for liability related to the mental health of someone other than the owner (?) But the applicable APA isn't listed.

ARRRGH!

Either do it right, or don't do it. There are not enough facts here to be helpful.

Murdoc said...

I haven't heard what these guns were. Are they nice/expensive/collectible? If they are, do we actually know that they're still in storage?

Or have they ended up in someone else's collection, and the plan to "destroy them" is to cover it up?

Just thinking out loud.

Bill said...

Any mouse, you simply have no clue do you? There are plenty of facts in the story and, if you live in IL, you would know this. I had the police take my firearms for "safe keeping" due to some problems my wife was having. They told me the same lies; Just come get them when you are ready. Stupid me, I believed them. When I felt my wife was well enough, I went to the station and asked for my guns back. I was told the same thing; "You have to get a court order". I said that's not what you told me when you picked them up. That is the way it is, or we will just keep them I was told by the chief. I had to get a court order from a judge, I was able to do this on my own by working with the city attorney. That was most likely only because I happen to live in a town that is very pro gun. I will never make that mistake again.

tornajoe said...

Update from the Bouril's:

Thanks for the replies and concern.

The six weapons are not really expensive....replacement value of about $2,500.00, but that's a lot to us.

Sorry if there wasn't enough detail, but maybe this letter we sent today with related documents to the NRA ILA Grassroots Division and the Illinois State Firearms Association may shed a bit more light. (it repeats most of the original post.)

Here is the body of the letter:


National Rifle Association member #052038674
Illinois State Rifle Association member #58274

Friday, July 25, 2008

National Rifle Association
Institute for Legislative Action
Grassroots Division
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, Virginia 22030



Dear ILA Grassroots Agents,

I contacted you via email recently concerning my ongoing firearms custody dispute with the City of Oak Forest, Illinois. As requested for review, I have attached relevant documentation for the matter.


Here is a brief of the situation:

• 14 months ago my husband was treated in the hospital for an agitated, bipolar condition.

• The psychiatrist suggested that Joe’s firearms be stored at the city police station.

• I brought Joe’s six firearms to the local authorities for temporary storage.

• The police told me that the firearms could be kept there as long as necessary.

• The officers never mentioned that legal action would be required for their return.

• A property inventory was issued for the firearms, indicating that they were on a “hold” status.

• On 03 JAN 08 the State of Illinois revoked Joe’s FOID card due to his mental health treatment.

• I then applied for my own FOID (Illinois Firearms Owner Identification) card.

• When I received my new FOID card, Joe officially transferred ownership of the guns to me.

• When I then tried to recover my firearms from storage with my FOID card, ownership paper, and inventory receipt, the police demanded that I have a judge’s court order for their release citing possible liability and safety issues.

• I have written and emailed the city numerous times stating that I should be entitled to recover my property without a court order under current Illinois firearms and property laws.

• When I recently requested that the City justify their court order demand with legal citations, they did not do so, but rather declared that they will soon destroy the firearms unless I recover the firearms with a judge’s decree.



I have tried to communicate legal reasoning to the City, providing this parallel scenario:

I can order/purchase firearms today and have them in my home within days following the state authorization and waiting period. The firearms merchant is not required to question me or refuse me, in regards to the mental condition or criminal convictions of my family or friends. If all state and municipal regulations are followed, The Law protects the gun dealer and the transaction from liability.

I researched the matter and told the City that they do not have a solid precedent or viable gray area:

All the facts of the matter are that the firearms cannot be classified as “contraband” per se. Therefore, they are not subject to (1) forfeiture, or (2) destruction, based upon home rule municipal policies. People v. Ziomek, 179 Ill. App. 3d 303, 309, 534 N.E.2d 538 (1989).

I put the City on notice that destruction of my firearms would be a breach of an implied contract.

I will provide an affidavit that the police officer assured me that the firearms could be in storage as long as I felt necessary. Also, the property inventory receipt indicates that the firearms were submitted on a “hold” status, and not the other options of “30-day destruction.”



My husband and I are both unemployed and cannot afford an attorney. Even so, we have been told that the cost of just retaining an attorney would be more than the current value of the firearms.

If there is anything you can do for me, I would appreciate it. If nothing can be done, you may use my situation as an education and prevention case study for the NRA family.



Respectfully,

______________________

Janice S. Bouril




CC:
Illinois State Rifle Association
Oak Forest Legal Counsel Robert Bush
Oak Forest Police Chief Dennis Olszewski
Oak Forest Mayor JoAnn Kelly
Dr. Anil Gandhi

TheBronze said...

Doesn't IL have any type of Friend of the Court/Ombudsman that can help them with what steps to take (on their own) with regards to paperwork, filing etc., to get their property back?

Anonymous said...

what would happen if you went to the FBI and reported the guns stolen...and where they were.

what if you reported it to the BATF and said you suspected they were diverted and not destroyed at all?

tornajoe said...

The Bouril vs. City Hall dispute has ended.

Interestingly, hours after I notified the City that I was filing an official complaint with the NRA and ISRA, the police chief contacted me for the first time in months, and agreed to one of my previous compromise offers; that of selling the firearms to an FFL gun dealer.

I know that I lost some of my legal rights, and as expected, I only received “trade-in” dollars for the guns, but I agreed to the negotiations because I just wanted to end the ongoing issue, and use the money for our next mortgage.

The transaction was completed today with a local, sympathetic sports dealer.

This battle has taught us much about gun rights and local police. Now I really understand why law-abiding citizens need to stay in touch on issues and lobby for our constitutional rights.

Thanks to everyone for their input and support.

Janice

Kenya 2010 Team said...

Janice,

Please give my best to Joe. I know this is two and a half years after the fact but I just stumbled across this. I went to high school with Joe and was saddened to read about what happened. B-Polar runs in my family so I'm very familiar with it's challenges. I hope life is treating you both better today after this awful ordeal. Hope to see you both at our upcomming 30 year reunion! Sincerely, Jody Malmgren Nibbe