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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16322
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I live in the state of Missouri. My wife is a convicted felon

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I live in the state of Missouri. My wife is a convicted felon and I have firearms. I need to know the best way to keep these firearms so if a law enforcement officer came into the home she would not be in trouble. I do need access to one in case of a break in. What is the best way of doing this? What is the law on this?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Jacustomer,

Possession in criminal law can be actual or constructive. It's not necessary for your wife to be found with the weapon in hand for her to be charged as a felon in possession of a firearm. It would be sufficient if she knew the gun was in the house and would be capable of taking custody and control over it.

In MIssouri, a felon in possession of a firearm faces a class C felony, which carries with it a maximum of 7 years of incarceration. This places her at great risk. She is not to be anywhere she knows that guns are.

Missouri does have one exception, however. It allows felons to posess an antique weapon. Consider keeping your guns out of your house somewhere unknown and locked away from your wife and defending your home with a black powder gun. (See statute below).

Possession of firearm unlawful for certain persons--penalty--exception.


571.070. 1. A person commits the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm if such person knowingly has any firearm in his or her possession and:

(1) Such person has been convicted of a felony under the laws of this state, or of a crime under the laws of any state or of the United States which, if committed within this state, would be a felony; or

(2) Such person is a fugitive from justice, is habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition, or is currently adjudged mentally incompetent.

2. Unlawful possession of a firearm is a class C felony.

3. The provisions of subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of this section shall not apply to the possession of an antique firearm.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
So your telling me I own the home, I am ex military, my rights are now gone and I can not under lock and key keep a firearm in my own home?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

What I'm telling you that if your wife knows that you have guns in the house and has access to them, she can face up to 7 years of prison on a state charge or up to 10 years of prison as a Federal offense. If you kept them off the premises or hid them and secured them in such a way that even if she could find them she couldn't take control of them, she'd probably be okay. All the same, the safer course is to keep them elsewhere.

My bigger concern was the part of your original post said that you were interested in keeping one gun handy for use to protect your household. Depending upon what kind of access you need, that could be a mistake. If she is presently on probation or parole either agency makes random unannounced searches.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi-

 

Let me put it the way I am intending. My wife is not on parole or probation. She has served that time and has not had any problems since then. I am wanting to know how to safely store my firearms. Is it enough to have the bolts out and locks through the weapon? Or do I need to purchase a full gun safe with a closed door. What about the key to the locks/safe. If I hide the key in the home and something happens she's in trouble? Would a combo numbered lock be the only way for a police officer to look at me and say "yeah, theres no way for her to get to them" and leave us be?

 

As for having a pistol ready for intruders I am wanting to know if a finger print safe would be fine? Meaning its 3 am and my dogs go crazy I can put my hand on it and it unlocks due to my fingerprints only and I can defend our lives. From what I am hearing and getting the feeling of If someone breaks into my home the criminal has more rights to hurt myself and my wife then I do to defend us.

 

If the above situation does happen and I shoot an intruder, is she considered at that point to have access to the firearm when it's in my hand? I would think if a police officer walks in the door and takes his eyes off her she would have the same "access" to his weapon if thats the case.

 

I am not trying to be a problem but want to make this work and be legal while doing so. Home invasions are becoming more and more a problem around us and people are getting killed.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
<p>The safe I am speaking of for the pistol to be next to the bed is at this link. If theres a key for it besides the finger print opener I will remove the key to an off site location.</p><p> </p><p><a href="http://www.gunsafestore.com/GVB2000.htm">http://www.gunsafestore.com/GVB2000.htm</a></p><p> </p><p>Also you cant really keep a black powder rifle loaded and ready to shoot for very long periods of time. It's not very safe or reliable.</p>
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

I understand the problem, and believe me I'm not trying to be difficult. The law with regard to this is pretty blunt, and the only 100% safe answer is that she should be nowhere near guns, because that's basically what it says.

So her safety from prosecution and/or conviction is really going to depend on the facts and circumstances of how these weapons come to light, and it is in examining those facts that the police and the prosecutor will determine whether your wife could or could not have taken possession of the firearm.

That said, I've looked at your link and I do like the idea of the fingerprint box for the one you do wish to have available in case of burglary and (if there is one) the off site key. It would seem to me that with such a device, if you did have to use the weapon under your worst case scenario, even if she were arrested, it would be unlikely that a jury would convict her.

In short, the botXXXXX XXXXXne is that more barriers you place between your wife and her ability to possess the firearms the better.




Edited by FranL on 11/17/2010 at 12:55 AM EST
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sounds like to me the criminals have won and the laws on this hurts the spouse of the convicted felon who has the right to own fire arms and defend themselves AS long as they can do XXXXX to prevent the felon of gaining access to the weapon. There has to be a a black and white portion of the law saying how to keep these fire arms. I just want to hear what I have to do in my situation to have any police officer IF it ever happens to check and see the state of how the weapons are kept to say ok this is correct and leave it be.

 

With that said if I have all firearms off site and only the one in the fingerprint gunsafe and lets say I do have to use it in self defense of the home.... When the police show are they going to take my wife to jail or will they look at what has happened and have the common sense to see there was no way for her to get it due to the fingerprint safe? Should I call and talk or go down and talk with my local police officers? I dont want this to become a huge problem with my local law enforcement but it is my right to bear arms on my own property is it not?

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

The answer to your question is not statutory. Your wife has no gun rights. Period.

The answer is, as I have said, in the facts and circumstances of how the weapons come to light. If you go to your local police, they are unlikely to give you 100% reassurance and, on top of that, you would be flagging the fact that you will be keeping weapons in your household.

If there's guidance, it would be in Missouri case law and under what circumstances courts have held that a felon in the household did not possess a weapon and where it was held he did. Experts here do not have the means to run such a search. The software to do it costs $150/hour to look into it. And in the end, it's still going to come down more to the circumstances. A fingerprint box is great, but not if for any reason the police come to the household and find the gun on the coffee table.

I'd love to give you a definitive answer, but the law itself doesn't afford one. Just as I'd love to believe that in your worst case burglary nightmare, the police will use common sense. I just can't guarantee it and nobody else can either.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I never said any felon has rights to firearms period. I said I have the right to bear arms as long as I follow the law. As an ex army infantryman they are part of my life. With that said it sounds like I am better off not having anything in the home firearm related. Surrendering my rights due to them not having a black and white way for me to keep them in a situation such as this is very sad.

 

Any how I am guessing pepper spray, tasers, clubs, knives, stun guns, etc are about my only options to face an armed intruder without fear of my wife being in trouble?

 

If you can answer that for me it has at least given me a different path. Also if you could let me know who I should contact to voice my thoughts on there not being a proper way of living with a felon and storing firearms I would really like it. It does infringe on my right to bear arms any way you look at it as I have not been given a proper lawful way to store my firearms and defend myself at the same time with out causing my loved one to go to jail. I want my voice to be heard on this as serving my country to be spit on by the law for being too lazy to write how to do this is a joke.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

I just wrote out this long answer and then went to send it and Firefox crashed on me. I have to start it again.

I do understand the unfairness of the situation and clearly see how angry you are about being forced into an unreasonable choice between two significant interests in your life: your right to bear arms and your wife. The dictates of the law are not fair across the board. Neither you nor I created that situation. But we are nevertheless required to be mindful of and comply with the law or face potential consequences.

I should note, and haven't because this was not what we were talking about, that Missouri is a gun rights state and will automatically restore a felon's rights 5 years after the conviction or release from prison (if applicable), whichever came later. See Mo. Rev. Stat. 8 571,070.1Although your wife would still not have her Federal rights back, it should allow you more freedom in the exercise of your own rights. And from there, if she sought to have her felony matter expunged, set aside or pardoned and was eligible for any of those remedies, the Federal government would restore her rights, and that would be the end of the problem.

The gun rights lobby is a very powerful one and even a cursory search on Google turns up a multitude of organizations all over the country dedicated to the furtherance of the Constitutional right to bear arms. I do not pretend to know which, if any of them would best link you to those who make their voices heard. But here is a Missouri gun rights organization, and it would be a start.
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16322
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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