By on May 31, 2011

Police officers in New Mexico can take guns away from drivers who pose no threat. The state supreme court ruled on May 20 that “officer safety” is more important than any constitutional rights a gun-owning motorist might have. The ruling was handed down in deciding the fate of Gregory Ketelson who was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over on November 13, 2008.

During the stop, Hobbs Police Officer Miroslava Bleau saw a 9mm handgun on the back seat floorboard. Ketelson and the driver of the car were ordered out and away from the car while Officer Shane Blevins grabbed the gun. The officers later learned that Ketelson, as a convicted felon, could not legally possess a firearm. The court, however, only considered whether the officers acted properly in taking the gun before they had any reason to suspect Ketelson, who was entirely cooperative during the encounter, of committing a crime.

Ketelson and the National Rifle Association argued that even a brief seizure of a firearm without cause violates fundamental, constitutionally protected rights. Ketelson also argued the gun could not have been taken without a search warrant, consent or exigent circumstances. A district court and the court of appeals agreed with this reasoning. State prosecutors countered that anyone with a gun ought to be considered “armed and dangerous” and thus the gun could be seized at any time. The high court agreed with this line of reasoning.

“Neither the defendant nor the driver was restrained, and thus the risk that one of them would access the firearm was especially potent,” Justice Petra Jimenez Maes wrote for the court. “Under such circumstances, Officer Blevins could constitutionally remove the firearm from the vehicle because he possessed a reasonable belief based on specific and articulable facts which warranted him in believing that defendant was armed and thus posed a serious and present danger to his safety.”

Because a gun would only taken for the duration of the traffic stop, the court decided such seizures were reasonable.

“The retrieval of the gun from the vehicle during the limited context of the traffic stop was at most a minimal interference with the suspect’s possessory interest,” Maes wrote. “Our decision in this case, which addresses a temporary separation of a firearm from the occupants of a car during the duration of a traffic stop, does not depend on any requirement of particularized suspicion that an occupant is inclined to use the firearm improperly.”

The decision overturned statements made in a previous ruling, New Mexico v. Garcia.

“It would be anomalous to treat the mere presence of a firearm in an automobile as supporting a reasonable suspicion that the occupants are inclined to harm an officer in the course of a routine traffic stop,” the court held in 2005.

A copy of the decision is available in a 140k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File New Mexico v. Ketelson (Supreme Court of New Mexico, 5/20/2011)

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

17 Comments on “New Mexico Supreme Court Lets Cops Grab Guns During Stops...”


  • avatar
    golden2husky

    ……Because a gun would only taken for the duration of the traffic stop, the court decided such seizures were reasonable.

    “The retrieval of the gun from the vehicle during the limited context of the traffic stop was at most a minimal interference with the suspect’s possessory interest,” Maes wrote. “Our decision in this case, which addresses a temporary separation of a firearm from the occupants of a car during the duration of a traffic stop, does not depend on any requirement of particularized suspicion that an occupant is inclined to use the firearm improperly.”…..

    So it boils down to protecting the safety of the cop or “violating” the right of the motorist to carry for “duration” of the traffic stop. If we really are talking about the time of the stop being used to determine whether the person really is in possession legally and the subsequent return of the firearm at the scene, I see absolutely no problem with that. It is in the best interest of everybody to limit exposure to officers. This is hardly like a cop taking your cell phone and downloading your personal information without consent. On the other hand, you are talking about being sent to the PD to pick up your gun and blowing half a day, well that is something else.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      The problem is that they will not just “secure” the gun, they will also run a trace, which hits a notoriously unreliable database, and is a fishing expedition anyway. The 4th amendment is not invalidated by the fact that the guy was a felon.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This has exactly what to do with cars? Mentioning the words “vehicle” and “car” doesn’t count, either.

    Welcome to Drudgereport.com

    Murilee – more junker articles – NOW!

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      This has exactly what to do with Drudgereport.com?

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        These are the type of articles one can find there and on other sites that report on stuff that could always be somehow skewed and politicized. Not to single out Drudge, either – it holds true for CNN, MSNBC, MSN, Yahoo! and the rest.

        What is this article doing here, other than it had to do with a car? A guy and a pistol? Not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        M 1

        I do agree this isn’t particular car-related… I just thought the Drudge reference was equally out-of-the-blue.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Allot of us carry consealed and the laws vary between states and sometimes within states.

    Good information!

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      This gun was neither carried nor concealed. I would say the fact that this guy thought the back floor of his car was an appropriate storage location for a handgun is enough to cause concern to the police officer.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Although this wasn’t a concealed-carry situation, I did immediately think back to everything people are typically taught in the classes they must take before they can get a CWP.

      In Florida (and in most states that allow concealed-carry) there is no requirement to volunteer the fact that you are armed. However, if you are asked, you must disclose that fact, and we are told to expect to be disarmed for the duration of the stop.

      I would think this is not surprising for anyone who is licensed to carry.

      But of course, that doesn’t actually apply here.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Ketelson and the driver of the car were ordered out and away from the car while Officer Shane Blevins grabbed the gun. The officers later learned that Ketelson, as a convicted felon, could not legally possess a firearm.”

    Oh, the poor felon got caught with a gun (tossed casually on the floor of a car, no less!). The court got it right. The NRA sometimes makes a complete fool of itself.

    This story probably belongs on Farago’s newest blog more so than it does on TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      John Fritz

      This story has as much to do with cars as the red light cameras, vehicle tracking, tax-by-mile schemes, all that crap. It’s an event that will occur while in your vehicle. It belongs on this site.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Well, yes, now that you said all that. O.K. by me. Besides, I like your avatar too much to disagree with you! “Hogan’s Heroes’ fans can’t be wrong, and I am one of them!

      • 0 avatar
        Bill Wade

        I wholeheartedly agree.

      • 0 avatar
        MoppyMop

        It’s an event that will occur while in your vehicle.

        Only if you make a habit of driving around with guns stashed in conspicuous locations. The rest of those things would affect everyone who drives should they ever come to pass; this, not so much.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    “The court, however, only considered whether the officers acted properly in taking the gun before they had any reason to suspect Ketelson, who was entirely cooperative during the encounter, of committing a crime.”

    …Yeah, that’s what they said. But not really. They got it right. Anyone driving around with a glock on the back floor of his car should have it taken away.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I should ask my former boss (who has a concealled carry permit and we live in New Mexico) how he carries his gun when it is actually on his person. He obviously doesn’t bring it onto school property (that’s illegal under NM and federal law) but he does obviously carry it on occasion.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Jeff S: @Arthur Dailey–Being young, single, and spending money on material things you maybe could have lived...
  • Jeff S: Much easier to disparage something in hindsight. At the time PLCs were popular and very good cars for the...
  • tankinbeans: To be clear, I’m not generally trying to activate it at low speeds, but I get the idiot light....
  • tankinbeans: I came along just as this car was starting to shuffle off into hell or wherever it was to ultimately end...
  • Lou_BC: LOL. That’s why I prefer motorcycles.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber