Letter Re: Oppressed Owners Storing Their Guns Out of State

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Hey Mr. Rawles,

So I’m stuck in The People’s Republic of California. I can’t get out. We would basically have to walk away from a business we have been running since 1978 with nothing. As I’ve noted in the past, I do have a mountain retreat that is ready to go.

But here is my question – With all these new California laws which will surely be passed and signed by the governor, I’m obviously a little concerned about my semi-auto long guns. I know folks talk about burying them in tubes and such. But would this be a viable option – I live about three hours from Yuma Arizona, and have someone out there I believe I could trust to hold my guns. If the authorities every came sniffing around asking where the weapons were, would I be able to legally say they have been taken out of state for safe-keeping until such time as the laws are repealed or changes, or whatever? Or not say anything at all, let them tear up the place and find nothing (except my bolt actions and revolvers)?

I mean, it seems like they’d have no jurisdiction in Arizona. Any thoughts you might have on this would be most welcome, thanks – Mountain Man Virgil

JWR Replies: I’m not an attorney, so don’t take the following as legal advice and consult an attorney licensed in your state for definitive answers. But I can mention, in general terms that a state’s jurisdiction ends at its state lines. Imagine that you mysteriously received an income tax bill in the mail from the Czech Republic, even though you’ve never worked there or had any business dealings with anyone there. Would you have to pay it? Could they come and arrest you or seize your bank assets for not paying it? Of course not.

If you transport a gun out of California before a new law goes into effect then you will be immune from prosecution by the State of California (the once fine but now sullied California Republic). Now, if that same gun were formerly registered in California then you might be asked to prove that it is now out of the State, but you are not bound by law to do so. And be advised that warranted police searches can be time consuming a and destructive, and you will have limited legal recourse. So maintaining a signed and witnessed affidavit from a friend or relative in Yuma would be wise.

Anyone who attempted to indict you without physical evidence of a crime would be laughed out of court. This is part of the long-standing corpus delicti requirement. The onus probandi (burden of proof) in any prosecution for a state law violation rests upon the state. ( “Semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit.”) Without substantive evidence that you had a proscribed firearm or magazine in your possession inside the state’s boundaries after the law went into effect, there could be no prosecution of a case, and not even grounds to arrest you. And mere suspicion–without a statement from a witness–would be shaky grounds at best, to secure a search warrant. (But again, we are talking about The People’s Republic of California, where in some cases they search homes with impunity, so who knows?)

It bears mention that there are a few firms in Las Vegas, Nevada that specialize in private vault storage of valuables (such as documents, precious metals, jewelry, gemstones, and guns.) It is also notable that some guns, such as AR-15s, a gun can be quickly disassembled, so that just the banned parts (namely the lower receiver and magazines) can fit in a safe deposit box. The remaining parts could legally be stored elsewhere. (Again, consult your state and local laws.) The beauty of doing business with these firms is that because they are not FDIC-insured “banks”, they would not be affected by a national “Bank Holiday” situation, which would otherwise limit access to safe deposit boxes. Another storage option for Californians might be buying a membership and renting vault storage space with a well-established firearms training academy in Oregon, Arizona, or Nevada.

Storing guns with friends and relatives out of state can be problematic, but if your alternatives are surrendering your guns for destruction, or selling them at a loss, or facing prosecution, then in my opinion it is well worth the risk. By the way, even though Yuma has a very dry climate, you should consult the many articles in SurvivalBlog’s archives about long term gun storage, as well as the copious advice on wall caches, door caches, hidden rooms, and some”hidden in plain sight” options.

And the unspoken bottom line is: Vote with your feet. The history of the western world is replete with tales of families that strategically relocated to escape tyranny. But there are also plenty of stories of families that did not. Go ahead and put your business on the market. If it is God’s will for you to move, then you will find a buyer. Jehovah Jireh!

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