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Indiana's warrantless seizure law

Lieutenant Tony Maze with the Fort Wayne Police Department said an officer can only take the gun if the person in question meets certain criteria.

Posted: Apr. 1, 2018 8:53 PM
Updated: Apr. 2, 2018 11:34 AM

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WFFT)- Guns have been in the media quite a bit since the Florida and Maryland shootings. The question on everyone's minds is: who should be allowed to have a gun, and when does the law take over?

In Indiana, we have a law known as warrantless seizures. It means if someone poses an imminent danger to themselves or others, police can take their firearm.

Indiana is one of only five states that has the law, but police believe it could save lives.

The law goes into effect if a friend, coworker, neighbor, or anyone else you know, has shown signs they might hurt themselves or others.  Lieutenant Tony Maze with the Fort Wayne Police Department said an officer can only take the gun if the person in question meets certain criteria.

"When they have probable cause to believe or reasonable suspicion to believe that an individual is dangerous to themselves or others, and there is an immediate or imminent threat to that danger," he said.

After seizing a gun, the officer has to file a petition with the courts.

"Once the court makes a determination that there is probable cause to go forward, the court then issues a summons to the agency and also to the individual... it is a purely civil case. it is not criminal," said Adam Mildred, a deputy prosecuting attorney in Allen County.

Mildred said he sees a case about once every other week, and sometimes the gun is returned.

"In the event that at any one of those stages that the court determines this is not a proper procedure, the court then orders the agency to return the firearm to the individual," he said.

If a gun is taken away, the person involved can ask the court to reconsider after six months. This is usually done by bringing a counselor to a hearing to tell the courts a person is stable enough to carry a firearm.

But Mildred said many people still call the law a slippery slope.

"This is designed to be able to diffuse an acute situation, short of an arrest, and allow the officers to make everyone safe and afford the individual involved immediate due process," he said.

To read the full statute, click here.

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