Hurricane Irma: Georgians Will Welcome Evacuating Gun Owners

irma evacuationWith the prospect of a major storm event on the horizon for much of Florida, Georgians are welcoming thousands of friends, relatives, and those in need into their cities, towns, and homes. Floridians evacuating to Georgia will all find a warm welcome; those who lawfully own and carry firearms, in particular, will be happy to learn they have nothing to fear from Georgia law if they travel into our state with their firearms—if they are armed with the right knowledge.

Irma Evacuation

To begin, let’s make perfectly clear: Florida’s 2015 “Emergency Concealed Carry” law, enacted to allow individuals without a Florida firearms license to carry concealed while evacuating during a mandatory evacuation or state of emergency, DOES NOT APPLY IN GEORGIA. This law certainly protects Florida’s residents as they prepare to evacuate their families and belongings, but does not reach into Georgia. When in Georgia, Florida residents must follow Georgia law, and ignorance of that law is no excuse (that’s part of the law, too!).

Here’s the good news: Georgia’s possession and carry laws are friendly to the lawful gun owner. Georgia shares firearms-license reciprocity with Florida; so, if you validly possess a Florida CWFL, you may possess a firearm (including revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, rifles, shotguns, and knives with blades longer than 12 inches) in Georgia.

You may carry them openly or concealed, and in any public or private location without prior permission, save for certain locations mandated by law (courthouses, jails, mental health facilities, government buildings with law-enforcement screening, etc.). Virtually any place open to the public is safe for open or concealed carry. Signs in private establishments (bars, restaurants, hotels) prohibiting the carrying of firearms do not necessarily have the force of law, but if you are barred entry or asked to leave by the owner or person in legal control of the property, you must do so, or risk arrest for criminal trespass.

What if you don’t have a Florida CWFL, but you still possess firearms lawfully, meaning
—You are not a felon or First Offender probationer,
—Have no convictions for domestic violence-related crimes, and
—Are over the age of 18 (for handgun owners only; there is no minimum-age requirement for possession of rifles or shotguns in Georgia law).

Those who may lawfully possess a firearm, but do NOT have a CWFL or Georgia Weapons Carry License, may still carry in Georgia inside his or her “home, motor vehicle, or place of business without a valid weapons carry license.” (See O.C.G.A. §16-11-126)

This means our Florida friends and family may carry firearms into the state without a license. Those possessing a firearm in a car without a license must (a) be otherwise eligible for a license, and (b) have the permission of the owner of the vehicle.

Additionally, carry of a handgun or long gun without a license is permitted when the firearm is enclosed in a case and unloaded (“unloaded” meaning no round in the chamber for semi-auto, no round in the cylinder for revolvers), and carry of a long gun, concealed or openly, is always permissible without a license for an individual who may otherwise legally possess a firearm. But if the long gun is loaded (round in the chamber), it must be carried openly.

For those who find themselves stopping over in a hotel, hotel rooms are considered your “habitation”: previous cases in Georgia have established that, because you obtain the use of a hotel room and exclude all others from entry, it qualifies as a habitation (See Hammock v. State, 277 Ga. 612, 616 (2004)).

Evacuating from Georgia
For Georgians who may be required to evacuate, keep in mind, you are lawful to carry in your home, motor vehicle, and place of business. Your home will be wherever you find yourself in Georgia, but the rules for lawful carry still apply.

Nothing changes for those with Weapons Carry Licenses, and because lawful gun owners without a license may carry in their motor vehicles, they, too, can evacuate knowing their firearms are safe.

It’s important to realize, however, that evacuation into another state means you must follow the laws within that state. Georgia maintains firearms reciprocity with Alabama, Tennessee, and both North and South Carolina, so Georgia Weapons Carry Licenses are recognized in those states, but the laws in those states prevail.

Keep in mind also that federal law (the Firearm Owners Protection Act) protects lawful gun owners who travel state to state by allowing firearms possession through any state from your state of origin to final destination, so long as your journey begins and ends in states where your possession is legal; the firearm is unloaded and locked in the trunk or made inaccessible from the passenger compartment (no glove boxes or compartments!); and the ammunition is likewise separate from the firearm and locked in the trunk.

Wherever you may travel, make sure you research your destination, and be sure to call U.S. LawShield for assistance. —by Matt Kilgo, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield of Georgia

Hurricane Irma: Evacuating from Florida with Firearms?

Migratory Bird Hunting: September Means Doves, Ducks, and Shotguns in Georgia

The first week of September might seem too early for fall hunting, but seasons for doves, ducks, and geese all start up this month. One advantage of these early hunts is that the birds are “uneducated” and unwary, and can really zoom into your set-ups and respond to your calls.

But do you know the ins and outs of migratory-bird hunting regulations? They can get confusing: Migratory-bird hunting is regulated by numerous state and federal game laws, and those laws can vary considerably from state to state. That means even the most conscientious waterfowl and dove hunters can find themselves paying fines instead of enjoying the hunt.   

Brush up on you need to know before you head afield this month for some bird hunting.

Duck, Duck, Goose

Migratory-bird hunting seasons, bag limits, and hunting methods are state-specific, so check with your state’s game agency beforehand. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies has provided an easy-to-reference list of agencies and links, which can be found here.

September is the traditional opener for that speedy little duck, the teal. The Georgia early teal season runs September 9 to 24 statewide, with bag and possession limits being 6 teal daily and 18 in possession. Cinnamon, blue-wing, and green-wing teal are all legal game. The early Canada goose season also opens this month, running from September 2-24, 2017 statewide. The bag and possession limits are 5 daily, 15 in possession.

According to Matthew Kilgo, U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney for Georgia, the state’s Canada Goose season runs various specific weeks of each month from September, 2017, through the end of January, 2018. “Being on the right side of the law means knowing for sure you’re in the season,” says Kilgo. “As varied as Georgia’s bird seasons can be, the correct information is vital to staying legal and enjoying the hunt, rather than dreading a trip to the courthouse.”

Doves and Zones

Seasons for mourning doves start now, too. The best hunting occurs in the mornings and late afternoons when the birds come to watering holes and agricultural fields in search of food and a chance to wet their beaks. In Georgia, according to Kilgo, dove season statewide is September 2-17, 2017; October 14 – November 2; and November 23-January 15, 2018. In any state, make sure you know your zones and specific laws. Bag and possession limits are 15 daily, 45 in possession.

Know the Law

The most common migratory-bird hunting violations concern baiting. Simply put, you can’t hunt ducks, geese, or doves over bait. But what constitutes bait?

It’s not that easy to define. Consider this from “Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting,” published online by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement here.

“Hunting waterfowl over a crop that has not been harvested but that has been manipulated (rolled/disked) is considered baiting under current regulations. The presence of seed or grain in an agricultural area rules out waterfowl hunting unless the seed or grain is scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, normal agricultural harvesting, normal agricultural post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice.”

What is “normal”? Every year, what seems “normal” to duck and dove hunters near agricultural fields isn’t the same kind of “normal” to the game wardens who cite them for illegal baiting. Best advice: Contact your local game wardens for their definition of baiting.

Another common violation is not having a plug in your pump or semi-automatic shotgun that limits only two shells in the magazine. Frequently, hunters get dinged on this because they removed the plugs for upland game hunting and just forgot to replace them before the migratory opener. 

Legal Help for Hunters and Anglers

Members of U.S. LawShield’s HunterShield program have access to attorneys for the answers they need concerning not only year-round game, but hunting and fishing laws in general. In addition, members receive discounted entry to Sportsman Law Seminars. These seminars include access to former game wardens and attorneys who are also seasoned hunters. Add HunterShield to your existing membership for only $2.95 per month.

Not a member of U.S. LawShield? Join today to expand your education as a hunting sportsman or woman and ensure your hunting and fishing questions are answered by trustworthy sources who know the law. —Brian McCombie, Contributor, U.S. & Texas LawShield® Blog

 

Migratory Bird Hunting: September Means Doves, Ducks, and Shotguns in Oklahoma

The first week of September might seem too early for fall hunting, but seasons for doves, ducks, and geese all start up this month! One advantage of these early hunts is that the birds are “uneducated” and unwary and can really zoom into your set ups and respond to your calls. Optimism is running high for this year’s dove hunting season, which will arrive on its traditional opening day of September 1st. And the fast-flying action will continue Sept. 2-3 as Oklahoma offers Free Hunting Days for state residents.

Josh Richardson, migratory bird biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said he’s heard some encouraging news from the field. Observers have reported seeing sizable flocks of mourning doves. “This time of year, we start seeing birds really beginning to group up.”

Still, while there might be plenty of doves around, they could be harder to hunt if cooler weather remains in place.

But do you know the ins and outs of migratory-bird hunting regulations? They can get confusing: Migratory-bird hunting is regulated by numerous state and federal game laws, and those laws can vary considerably from state to state. That means even the most conscientious waterfowl and dove hunters can find themselves paying fines instead of enjoying the hunt.   

Brush up on what you need to know before you head afield this month for some bird hunting.

Duck, Duck, Goose

Migratory-bird hunting seasons, bag limits, and hunting methods are state-specific, so check with your state’s game agency beforehand. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies has provided an easy-to-reference list of agencies and links, which can be found here. The Wildlife Conservation Dept. also publishes a list of specific dates and bag limits for Oklahoma. 

Early September is the traditional opener for that speedy little duck, the teal. The Oklahoma teal season runs September 9-24 statewide, with bag and possession limits being 6 teal daily, 12 in possession after the first day, 18 in possession after the second day. Cinnamon, blue-wing, and green-wing teal are all legal game.

The Early Canada goose season also opens this month. The Special September Resident Canada Goose Season runs September 9-18, statewide. The bag and possession limits are 8 daily, 16 in possession after the first day, 24 in possession after the second day.

Doves and Zones

Seasons for mourning and white-winged doves start now, too. Mourning, White-winged and Eurasian Collared season dates apply statewide and run September 1 to October 31. Bag and possession limits are 15 daily, 30 in possession after first day combined, 45 in possession after the second day combined. The limit may consist of any combination (aggregate) of mourning doves, white-winged, and fully dressed (those without a head or fully feathered wing naturally attached to the carcass) Eurasian collared doves. However, there is no bag limit on Eurasian collared doves if the head or one fully feathered wing remains naturally attached to the carcass of all such birds while being transported to their final destination.

The best hunting occurs in the mornings and late afternoons when the birds come to watering holes and agricultural fields in search of food and a chance to wet their beaks.

Know the Law for Migratory Bird Hunting

The most common migratory-bird hunting violations concern baiting. Simply put, you can’t hunt ducks, geese, or doves over bait. But what constitutes bait?

It’s not that easy to define. Consider this from “Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting,” published online by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement here.

“Hunting waterfowl over a crop that has not been harvested but that has been manipulated (rolled/disked) is considered baiting under current regulations. The presence of seed or grain in an agricultural area rules out waterfowl hunting unless the seed or grain is scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, normal agricultural harvesting, normal agricultural post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice.”

In an interview, Josh Richardson, bird biologist, commented that Wildlife Department technicians and biologists at many Wildlife Management Areas have been working for several months planting and preparing fields to entice more doves to their public hunting areas. But unusual rainy weather during early August might curtail doves’ use of those ag fields.

“The wet weather causes the grain to spoil, if left in the head, or sprout if exposed and on the ground. This of course reduces the available food, and thereby the attractiveness, of a field for the birds.

“There will still be some food around, and there will be birds that use it, but it won’t be premium like it could be if we had our standard 95- to 100-degree dry days.”

As we can see, Wildlife Department technicians plant food plots to attract migratory birds in Oklahoma for the purpose of helping hunters bag their limits. This may be normal for the Wildlife technician, Okay, but what is “normal for the everyday hunter?” Every year, what seems “normal” to duck and dove hunters near ag fields might not be “normal” to the game wardens who might cite them for illegal baiting! Best advice: chat with local game wardens for their take on baiting.

The other most common violation is not having a plug in your pump or semi-automatic shotgun that limits only two shells in the magazine. Frequently, hunters get dinged on this because they removed the plugs for upland game hunting and just forgot to replace them before the migratory opener.

Legal Help for Hunters and Anglers

Members of U.S. LawShield’s HunterShield program have access to attorneys for the answers they need concerning not only year-round game, but hunting and fishing laws in general. In addition, members receive discounted entry to Sportsman Law Seminars. These seminars include access to former game wardens and attorneys who are also seasoned hunters. Add HunterShield to your existing membership for only $2.95 per month.

Not a member of U.S. LawShield? Join today to expand your education as a hunting sportsman or woman and ensure your hunting and fishing questions are answered by trustworthy sources who know the law. —Brian McCombie, Contributor, U.S. & Texas LawShield® Blog

September Means Doves, Geese, and Shotguns in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania bird huntingThe first week of September might seem too early for Pennsylvania bird hunting, but seasons for doves and geese start up this month. One advantage of these early hunts is that the birds are “uneducated” and unwary, and can really zoom into your set-ups and respond to your calls.

But do you know the ins and outs of migratory-bird hunting regulations? They can get confusing: Migratory-bird hunting is regulated by numerous state and federal game laws, and those laws can vary considerably from state to state. That means even the most conscientious wingshooters can find themselves paying fines instead of enjoying the hunt.   

Brush up on you need to know before you head afield this month for some bird hunting.

Pennsylvania Bird Hunting: Doves and Geese

Migratory-bird hunting seasons, bag limits, and hunting methods are state-specific, so check with your state’s game agency beforehand. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies has provided an easy-to-reference list of agencies and links, which can be found here.

Bag limits are generous for the dove season (15 daily, 45 possession), which runs statewide Sept. 1-Oct. 7, with follow-up hunting periods of Oct. 14-Nov. 25 and Dec. 23-Jan. 1. Shooting hours begin at noon for the Sept. 1-Oct. 7 period.

The Pennsylvania bird hunting Canada Goose season runs statewide September 1-25, but season lengths and bag limits vary by zone. Seasons for Canada geese include white-fronted geese.

Know the Law

The most common Pennsylvania bird hunting violations concern baiting. Simply put, you can’t hunt ducks, geese, or doves over bait. But what constitutes bait?

It’s not that easy to define. Consider this from “Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting,” published online by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement here.

“Hunting waterfowl over a crop that has not been harvested but that has been manipulated (rolled/disked) is considered baiting under current regulations. The presence of seed or grain in an agricultural area rules out waterfowl hunting unless the seed or grain is scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, normal agricultural harvesting, normal agricultural post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice.”

What is “normal”? Every year, what seems “normal” to duck and dove hunters near agricultural fields isn’t the same kind of “normal” to the game wardens who cite them for illegal baiting. Best advice: Contact your local game wardens for their definition of baiting before you go Pennsylvania bird hunting.

The other most common violation is not having a plug in your pump or semi-automatic shotgun that limits only two shells in the magazine. Frequently, hunters get dinged on this because they removed the plugs for upland game hunting and just forgot to replace them before the migratory opener.

Legal Help for Hunters and Anglers

Members of U.S. LawShield’s HunterShield program have access to attorneys for the answers they need concerning not only year-round game, but hunting and fishing laws in general. In addition, members receive discounted entry to Sportsman Law Seminars. These seminars include access to former game wardens and attorneys who are also seasoned hunters. Add HunterShield to your existing membership for only $2.95 per month.

Not a member of U.S. LawShield? Join today to expand your education as a hunting sportsman or woman and ensure your hunting and fishing questions are answered by trustworthy sources who know the law. —Brian McCombie, Contributor, U.S. & Texas LawShield® Blog

Migratory Bird Hunting: September Means Doves, Ducks, and Shotguns in Colorado

colorado hunting

The first week of September might seem too early for Colorado hunting, but seasons for doves, ducks, and geese all start up this month. One advantage of these early hunts is that the birds are “uneducated” and unwary, and can really zoom into your set-ups and respond to your calls.

But do you know the ins and outs of migratory-bird hunting regulations? They can get confusing: Migratory-bird hunting is regulated by numerous state and federal game laws, and those laws can vary considerably from state to state. That means even the most conscientious waterfowl and dove hunters can find themselves paying fines instead of enjoying the hunt.   

Brush up on you need to know before you head afield this month for some bird hunting.

Duck, Duck, Goose

Migratory-bird hunting seasons, bag limits, and hunting methods are state-specific, so check with your state’s game agency beforehand. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies has provided an easy-to-reference list of agencies and links, which can be found here.

Early September is the traditional opener for that speedy little duck, the teal. This year, for example, teal hunting season in Colorado runs September 9-17 in Lake and Chaffee Counties and all areas east of I-25. Cinnamon, blue-wing, and green-wing teal are all legal game.

Early Canada goose seasons also opens this month. In Colorado, early Canada goose season runs from September 1-9 this year, but only west of the Continental Divide. 

Doves and Zones in Colorado

Seasons for mourning and white-winged doves are longer this year, opening Sept. 1 and running through Nov. 29 statewide. The best hunting occurs in the mornings and late afternoons when the birds come to watering holes and agricultural fields in search of food and a chance to wet their beaks.

Know Colorado Hunting Law

The most common migratory-bird hunting violations concern baiting. Simply put, you can’t hunt ducks, geese, or doves over bait. But what constitutes bait?

It’s not that easy to define. Consider this from “Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting,” published online by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement here.

“Hunting waterfowl over a crop that has not been harvested but that has been manipulated (rolled/disked) is considered baiting under current regulations. The presence of seed or grain in an agricultural area rules out waterfowl hunting unless the seed or grain is scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, normal agricultural harvesting, normal agricultural post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice.”

What is “normal”? Every year, what seems “normal” to duck and dove hunters near agricultural fields isn’t the same kind of “normal” to the game wardens who cite them for illegal baiting. Best advice: Contact your local game wardens for their definition of baiting.

Another common violation is not having a plug in your pump or semi-automatic shotgun that limits only two shells in the magazine. Frequently, hunters get dinged on this because they removed the plugs for upland game hunting and just forgot to replace them before the migratory opener.

According to U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards, “Colorado provides its citizens with access to a wide variety of outdoor activities and access to beautiful public lands for the purpose of hunting, fishing, and other activities. As such, the State carefully regulates the use of those lands to ensure they are preserved for all to enjoy. Hunting small game is no exception and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is responsible, per statute, to ‘protect, preserve, enhance, and manage’ the wildlife resources of the state. Violations of those laws can result in license revocation, fines, and even possible imprisonment. Know the laws, stay safe, and have fun!”   

Legal Help for Hunters and Anglers

Members of U.S. LawShield’s HunterShield program have access to attorneys for the answers they need concerning not only year-round game, but hunting and fishing laws in general. In addition, members receive discounted entry to Sportsman Law Seminars. These seminars include access to former game wardens and attorneys who are also seasoned hunters. Add HunterShield to your existing membership for only $2.95 per month.

Not a member of U.S. LawShield? Join today to expand your education as a hunting sportsman or woman and ensure your hunting and fishing questions are answered by trustworthy sources who know the law. —Brian McCombie, Contributor, U.S. & Texas LawShield Blog

Oklahoma Game Wardens: What You Need to Know

Robert Robles, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield in Oklahoma, breaks down the power of Oklahoma game wardens, which is considerable. [Full Transcript Below Video]

 

Let me talk to you today about hunting laws in the state of Oklahoma. What are the powers of Oklahoma game wardens?

Well, there are many.

[Their] number-one power is that they are commissioned police officers in the state of Oklahoma, and they have super search powers. That is, under the open-fields provision of the evidence code, they can search any open field for crimes going on, such as poaching.

Oklahoma Game Wardens’ Jurisdiction

And in the event of searching for poaching violations, Oklahoma game wardens can come across fields with marijuana or other sorts of crimes going on. They have super jurisdiction because not only are they licensed as police officers in the state of Oklahoma, they are also licensed federal agents and deputized to carry out and to enforce the federal game laws, migratory acts, things of this nature in the United States.oklahoma game wardens

Hunting and fishing laws are many and numerous, and they range from the certain number of shells you can have in your gun when you’re shooting migratory birds to two of a certain size of fish [taken] in certain lakes—all of which is covered in detail in our more extensive discussions here at U.S. LawShield.

The Oklahoma game wardens actively seek out interstate violations of game laws, and they have different interstate compacts where one state will inform the other state of violations, so that if you’re in Oklahoma and you break the law in another state related to fishing [or hunting], you can lose your license in the state of Oklahoma.

Special Report: 5 Things You Need to Know About Oklahoma Game Wardens

Georgia Conservation Rangers: What You Need to Know

Matt Kilgo, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield in Georgia, tells you why conservation rangers are police, just with more power. [Full Transcript Below Video]

 

Game wardens are the police, also known in state law as Conservation Rangers, and have the full power of law enforcement officers, and they have some of the most wide-ranging jurisdiction of any law-enforcement officers in the state.

What Conservation Rangers Can Do

To begin with, game wardens enforce all violations of state law committed on property owned or controlled by the Department of Natural Resources. They protect all life and property when the circumstances demand action. Now, what does that mean, “circumstances demand action?”

It just depends on the situation, but that gives them a lot of ability to read into what they can do and when they can’t do.

Game wardens assist the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia State Patrol in their investigations. In fact, game wardens are responsible for investigating all hunting and boating accidents all over the state of Georgia.

The governor can call in conservation rangers, or game wardens, to assist any law enforcement agency in their investigations.

Game wardens can seize, as evidence, without a warrant or anything other than, an airplane, a boat, or car when they consider it to have been a device used in furtherance of a violation of state wildlife law.

In other words, hunters, if you are stopped and the game warden believes that you may have violated state law, and used a firearm to do it, that game warden can seize your firearm without a warrant.

They can go upon [private] property and look outside buildings in the performance of their duties, so they can just walk up onto your property, look around your building, and see if they find anything illegal.

They can also enter any plant or building to determine whether any violations of wildlife laws have occurred therein, and all the time they exercise the full authority of certified peace officers when they’re doing this, which means they can arrest for any [violation of] state law that’s committed within their presence.

In other words game wardens have quite a bit of authority. They are police officers, so you should treat them as you would treat any other police officer. Be polite, but insist on your rights. Let them know you have a right against unreasonable searches and seizures, let them know you have a right to remain silent, and let them know that you know you have the right to seek the assistance of an attorney.

Be polite but stand on your rights, because conservation rangers, game wardens, are police officers.

Missouri Wildlife Conservation Agents: What You Need to Know

John Schleiffarth, U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney for the Show Me State, tells you why conservation officers aren’t like the police, they are the police. [Full Transcript Below Video]

I’m here to talk to you about hunting laws and about the power of conservation officers in the state of Missouri.

MissouriConservation officers are licensed peace officers in the state. That means the conservation officers aren’t just like the police, they are the police. Conservation officers have the right to inspect , search, seize,  write citations, and even make arrests.

They aren’t empowered just to enforce hunting and fishing regulations—they can also enforce criminal statutes. Remember, when you’re dealing with a conservation officer, you’re actually dealing with the police.

 

Missouri Gun Sales Increase While Permits Decrease

Wrong Place, Wrong House

Member Ambassador Sherry Hale interviews Michael Cargill to learn how U.S. LawShield helped his parents in the aftermath of a home invasion and self-defense shooting when they discovered three men breaking into their house.

 

 

TV Reporter: “A homeowner in Georgia shot and killed an intruder…Police there are investigating.”

Female Voice: “It’s really creepy. Imagine you’re sleeping at 4 o’clock in the morning and you hear some sort of noises coming from the bathroom…”

Mike Cargill: “I was at home one night sleeping and it’s probably about 3, 4 o’clock in the morning and I get a phone call. I looked at the phone, it was my mother and I thought, ‘Okay, that’s not good.’

“There were three guys who spent 45 minutes to an hour trying to break into my parents home. They took all the screens off the windows of the first floor.

“He opened the back patio, went to the back patio and tried to get into the back door—went to the shed, broke into the shed.

“He got into the shed they pulled a ladder out of the shed and lay that ladder against the house and climbed onto the second floor of my parents home.

“But dad heard that noise and he grabbed this 40-caliber, he stepped over to the bathroom and there was a guy crawling through the window on the second floor of his home at 4 o’clock.

“He fired one single shot, shot him in the face. It stopped right there.”

“Dad dialed the Law Shield. The attorney immediately answered the phone and he immediately started taking care of the case.”

“He immediately contacted the DA’s office, the police department and was trying to figure out what’s going on and get someone to the scene to my parents’ house. I was very grateful for that.”

“This guy fell on the roof of my parents’ house and died on the roof.” 

Sherry Hale, U.S. Law Shield Member Ambassador: “This was a horrible nightmare that none of us ever hope to experience. Mike knows, as an instructor and a gun store owner, that there are two things every gun owner needs to know they need to be prepared and they need to be a member of U.S. and Texas Law Shield. Luckily, his parents were both.”

“Mike’s parents called Law Shield from the back of the police car and were assisted by our independent program attorney every step of the way, including questioning at the police station, and I’m happy to report, no charges were filed, thank goodness.”

“His parents were prepared, educated, and protected, but more importantly, they had legal defense for self defense: U.S. Law Shield.”

Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers in Florida: What You Need to Know

Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers (FWC Officers) are not like the police—they are the police, explains David Katz, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield in Florida. [Transcript continues below the video.]

 

 

FWC Officers Legal Role

By statute, FWC Officers are licensed Florida law enforcement. They are arguably some of the most powerful police in Florida. In addition, the federal government, specifically the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce, commission Florida FWC Officers with power to enforce federal fisheries and wildlife laws in Florida. FWC Officers have full police power to inspect, search, seize, and arrest. Note this police power is not simply for hunting or fishing violations. FWC Officers possess the full power to arrest for any violations of the law, hunting related or not. So, understand, when you’re dealing with an FWC Officer, you are dealing with a police officer. If you are caught breaking the law, he or she will perform their duties in enforcing the laws and appropriate restitutions.

FWC Officers and Searches and Seizures

We are all familiar with our Constitutionally guaranteed rights contained in the Bill of Rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Those hallowed words are memorialized in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

However, what do these words mean when you are confronted by an FWC Officer? What are their police powers to search you or your property? Does the Fourth Amendment have any meaning at all anymore? For many lovers of liberty, the rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment have been largely chipped away and provide little real protection in real-life scenarios. This has been done by courts creating legal exceptions to the Fourth Amendment so broad as to allow a warrantless search, unreasonable, articulable suspicion alone.

The legal standards for an FWC Officer to search your property, including freezers, coolers, refrigerators, and other areas in cabins, shacks, homes, trailers, or vehicles, are contained in Florida Statute 339.3311, which provides that an FWC Officer may examine any person, boat, conveyance, vehicle, game bag… or other receptacle for wild-animal life, marine life, or freshwater aquatic life, or any camp, tent, cabin, or roster in the presence of any person stopping at such or belonging to such camp, tent, cabin, or roster, when such officer has reason to believe and has exhibited his or her authority and stated to the suspected person in charge the officer’s reason for believing that any of the aforesaid laws have been violated at such camp.

What is reason to believe? This issue has been left to the courts, and as such, almost anything seems to pass for a legal justification. Additionally, Florida Statute 339.3313 (2) states that an FWC Officer who has probable cause to believe that the vessel has been used for fishing prior to the inspection shall have full authority to open and inspect all containers or areas where saltwater products are normally kept aboard vessels while such vessels are on the water. Such as refrigerated or ice locations, coolers, fish boxes, and bait wells. Note that this applies to even law-abiding anglers. The only requirement here is that the FWC Officer have probable cause to believe you have been fishing.

FWC Officers and Stop-and-Board Powers

FWC Officers also have the authority to stop and board vessels which are not being used for fishing. Just being on the water gives an FWC Officer a right to stop you, without cause, to conduct a safety inspection. Further, Florida Statute 379.334 gives the FWC Officers the authority to board any vessel boat or vehicle or to enter any fish house or warehouse or other building exclusive of residence in which game, hides, fur-bearing animals, fish, or fish nets are kept and to search for and seize any such game, hides, fur-bearing animals, fish, or fish nets had or held there in violation of the law without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe that the fishing or hunting laws have been broken.fwc officers

FWC Officers Jurisdiction

The lesson is that FWC Officers have extensive search powers, and they will use them whenever it is necessary to perform their duties. Just as deer and other wild animals cross city and county lines, so does the jurisdiction of Florida FWC Officers. Although FWC Officers in Florida may have a home base, their jurisdiction is statewide. This means that an FWC Officer’s jurisdiction extends to every corner of the state, not only where wild animals and wildlife can be found. FWC Officers have power like other police officers to make arrests anywhere in the state where violations of the law are committed in their presence, but unlike other officers of the state, they may also make arrest for violation of the law not committed in their presence, if committed on lands under the supervision of the FWC commission, including state parks, coastal and aquatic managed areas, greenways, and trails.