A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Ballio Case

I occasionally get wind and emails about firearms related incidents. This post is about one such incident. Fact: Louisiana law states that a citizen who can legally own a firearm (as in a non-felon) can carry that firearm inside their vehicle either openly or concealed within the confines of a vehicle.
LRS 14:95.2: "Any constitutionally protected activity which cannot be regulated by the state, such as a firearm contained entirely within a motor vehicle."
If the citizen has a valid Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit, a handgun can be concealed on their person in the vehicle. The Louisiana citizen with a CHP has the duty to inform an officer of the law who approaches them on official business of the presence of a handgun concealed on their person.

This politician, the mayor of Shreveport Louisiana, Cedric Glover, apparently fails to understand that. This politician seems to believe that when his police officers stop a citizen for an innocuous traffic offense, the citizen forfeits their constitutional rights.

According to another blog, when Robert Baillio was pulled over for failure to use his turn signal, "the only questions the officer had for Baillio concerned guns; Whether he had a gun, where the gun was, and if he was a member of the NRA. No requests for a driver's licence, proof of insurance, or vehicle registration, and no discussion of a turn signal." Robert Ballio was driving a pick-up truck with several pro-gun stickers prominently displayed on the rear glass, along with Stars and Stripes. He holds a valid Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit.

When Mr. Ballio called Shreveport's mayor to complain about the confiscation of his firearm, he recorded the conversation. It would appear Cedric Glover is woefully ignorant of the law, and is directing his officers to violate the constitutional rights of Louisiana citizens. An excerpt of Glover's reply to Mr. Ballio: "Sir, you have no right, when you have been pulled over by a police officer for a potential criminal offense to stand there with your weapon at your side in your hand because of your second amendment rights, sir. That does not mean at that point your second amendment right has been taken away; it means at that particular point in time, it has been suspended." Of course, Mr. Ballio did not imply that he desired to have the handgun in his hand. He simply felt as though he was being profiled because of the pro-gun emblems on the rear glass of his truck. Unfortunately, it does not seem as though Mr. Ballio is a second ammendment scholar either.





Cedric Glover knew that Mr. Ballio's handgun was nowhere near his reach. Cedric Glover knew that the handgun did not present a threat to the officer. Cedric Glover simply did not have a clue as to what he was talking about. But......... That is no excuse. He is the mayor. He is in charge. If tweaking a moron's whiskers is your thing, here is Glover's address.

Office of the Mayor
505 Travis Street, Suite 200
Shreveport, LA 71101
(318) 673-5050
Email: mayor@shreveportla.gov

If a person wants to examine things further however, here is Robert Ballio's statement:
"Here in Shreveport, LA, a little more than a week ago, to be exact, it was Friday, June 5th, about 9:45 in the evening. I was driving my pick-up from the Downtown Airport to my home. My wife had called and asked me to pick up an order she had called in to a local restaurant. I was about a block and a half from the restaurant when I noticed flashing lights behind me. I can honestly say that I didn’t have a clue as to why I was being stopped, but I instantly pulled over.

Right after I stopped, I got out of my truck and walked toward the tailgate. I kept my hands where he could see them and I stopped right there by the back bumper. Right there I was directly in his headlights, and I wanted to be sure he could see that I wasn’t carrying any kind of weapon, and I didn’t pose any type of threat to him.

Well he got out of his vehicle and walked toward me. He stopped a little short of what I’d consider conversation distance, and he looked at me and said, “Do you have any firearms in your vehicle?”

I didn’t really expect him to ask me that. And I didn’t know why he asked, but I answered and said “Yes” He asked where they were. And I really didn’t understand why he was asking me these questions. But I told him the truth, and I said “My pistol is between the drivers seat and the console.

He instantly turned and walked to the drivers side door, opened it, and removed my pistol. I stayed at the back of the truck. He approached me, held my HK 45 Compact up, and dropped the magazine. He then asked if there was a shell in the chamber, and I said, “Yes sir, there is.” He ejected it onto the ground, locked the slide back, and walked back to his patrol unit and got in it.

After the stop was completed, and my gun was was returned, I thought about the events that had happened. I called the mayor of Shreveport, on Monday June 8th. Late in the day he finally called me back. I told him that I was very uncomfortable standing on a busy street without my hand gun, and I did not believe the officer had any reason, or right to remove it from my vehicle.

He told me that during a traffic stop "My rights were suspended." At first I couldn't believe he said that. Then, I thought “no one is going to believe me when I tell them he said that” so I turned on my digital recorder and recorded the rest of our conversation. He said my right to drive off after a policeman stops me was suspended. He was comparing my Constitutional Rights with driving off after a policeman stops you - something that is against the law."
On review of the cruiser's dash cam video, it is immediately apparent that the officer is not an anti-gun policeman. Mr. Ballio stepped out of his pick-up truck before the officer approached the vehicle. The officer immediately asked Mr. Ballio to close his pick-up truck's door, limiting his ability to access anything inside. The officer knew there was a potential firearm present because of the pro-gun stickers, and he probably already knew Mr. Ballio had a Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit. He asked if Mr. Ballio had any firearms in the vehicle. He did not ask if Mr. Ballio had any firearms concealed on his person. He did not ask to see a driver's license. Mr. Ballio was outside the truck, leaning on the bed when the officer turns his back to him, reaches inside and retrieves the weapon.

The officer asks if there is a round in the chamber, when Mr. Ballio responds he would not carry it any other way, the officer responds "That's true." The officer clears the weapon, and then turns his back to Ballio again to retrieve the ejected round from the ground. He asks Mr. Ballio if he is a member of the NRA, and when Mr. Ballio responds affirmatively, the officer says "Excellent." This is not a gun ignorant gun hating cop. It is also clear, after the officer has turned his back to Ballio twice, that he does not feel threatened by Mr. Ballio. So the question of why he felt the need to secure the weapon can be raised.

Under Louisiana law, during a traffic stop, it is the officer's prerogative whether he will secure a weapon he has been informed of. This officer chose to exercise his right to secure the weapon. There is nothing illegal about that. The pistol and ammunition were returned to Mr. Ballio at the conclusion of the traffic stop.

I have had my handgun secured twice at traffic stops. There have been an even greater number of times that the officer allowed me to retain my weapon throughout the stop. (Keep in mind I have possessed a Parish or Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit since 1984, I'm not that bad a driver......) Each time I am pulled over, I follow a simple procedure. First and foremost, I turn off the engine and stay inside the vehicle unless the officer asks me to exit. When the officer approaches, I keep my hands in plain view. Prior to pulling over, I remove my wallet and place it on the dash so my hands always remain in view. I have my driver's license and Concealed Handgun Permit ready for the officer when he approaches my door. I hand them both to him. The only actions taken by this officer that warrant scrutiny is turning his back to Mr. Ballio. If Mr. Ballio was as concerned about his safety as he states he should have remained inside his vehicle, or moved to the sidewalk.

Yes, Cedric Glover is a buffoon ignorant of the law, but aren't most politicians? Cedric Glover's ignorance is only exceeded by his arrogance. He is contemptable. It would serve him well to become better acquainted with the law before he discusses it. Other than that, I'm not seeing much meat on this bone. There are more important anti-gun politicians to focus on.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous MrWolf said...

I'm English originally, live in Australia, and enjoy travel. In almost every country in the world, the sensible thing when stopped by a traffic cop is to get out of the car right away, rain or shine. That way, you meet the cop on equal terms, eye to eye, and are slightly less likely to get any kind of ticket. Remaining seated, inside, while the cop stands outside, unprotected from the elements, gives an unspoken 'I'm superior, you are inferior' impression.

Every time I drive in the U.S., I remind myself firmly that acting 'normally' if pulled over is a very bad idea. 'When in Rome, etc.'

I often wonder how the difference in 'standard procedure' evolved. Is there a famous historical case I should be aware of, or did it 'just grow'?

Best wishes.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not saying what the officer did was right and I'm not saying the Mayor's not a moron. BUT, this is precisely why I don't fly any stickers on my pick-up other than the IAFF shield and the Stars and Stripes, It just makes things a whole lot easier.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

It's funny to see the hypocrite stance of the Mayor.

See in the second video about minute six.

The mayor imputes the very unrealistic situation where someone "chemically altered" would "rush in the car and start shooting the officer" for no reason. He uses this invented and unrealistic "argument" to allow the police taking away guns during pull-offs.

But just half a minute later, when the tides turn and Ballio makes a similar argument, the police chief calls it "very unrealistic" and demands such an argument not to be brought up in the discussion.

In school I was told, the main fundament of Justice is "in dubio pro reo", which includes talking about the reality and not about made-up situations as "arguments".

It seems the Mayor doesn't know.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Jerry The Geek said...

In Oregon we have a similar law, that a sworn law-enforcement officer can take possession of a weapon and secure it during interview or investigation of any person at a crime scene. If the LEO judges that no threat exists, he must return it before leaving the scene. Under certain circumstances, the LEO may retain the weapon and remove it to a secure holding area. But if the owner of the weapon is in legal possession, the weapon must be returned.

This is the law which was not respected by the New Orleans police (and "support personnel") during the Hurricane Katrina situation, and I suspect that this particular officer had that well in mind.

I further suspect that the LEO's "Spidey Sense" suggested that he would be better to secure a suspected weapon, possibly because the temporarily detained person exited his vehicle. Police here do not necessarily consider that an act of respect or consideration, contrary to the experience of MrWolf. Instead, they consider it an aggressive act.

As I recall the Driver's Education course I received in High School several decades ago, we were advised that there is a certain etiquette
to be observed in the even of a traffic stop.

We should stay in the car, be polite, keep hands in sight, have license, registration, insurance documents conveniently at hand, be polite and respectful, make no sudden moves.

The Mayor of Shreveport certainly overstated his case; he came off sounding like any politician, secure in his authority and pompous by dint of his courtesy call. I think he stated his case badly, but in some senses he was correct in much of what he had to say.

However, I don't think he acted the "buffoon" ... in certain cases of buffoonery as demonstrated by the average politician. The poor man just doesn't know how to talk to real people.

All in all, I think the entire grimy affair turned out about as well as can be expected. Nobody got hurt, property rights were eventually respected, and Shreveport Louisiana has at least one LEO who, with the single tactical error of turning his back on the driver, knows how to talk to real people.

New Orleans should make him their Chief of Police.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier's procedure is exactly what was recommended to me by a police firearms trainer many years ago,and one which I have followed the very few times I have been stopped.The officer may be looking for a violent criminal and only have a sketchy vehicle description "Old white ford pickup".Make the officer feel safe and address them respectfully and courteously.Of course if you ARE a skell ignore me,please.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Travlin said...

I think the beginning of this post gives a misleading impression.

By the end it seems that there was indeed a failure to signal and this was a valid traffic stop, not an example of profiling an armed citizen.

The phrase "the confiscation of his firearm" implies that the cop kept it, when in fact he returned it, and even applauded the citizen's NRA membership.

Under the circumstances I think the cop's action to temporarily secure the gun was reasonable. The citizen got out of the truck and approached him. The cop couldn't safely assume his intentions were not hostile.

If the cop never asked for his driver's license then it would seem that no ticket was issued and he let it go with a verbal warning.

I am a strong supporter of second amendment rights, but this story strikes me as an example of exaggerated sensitivity used to manufacture an incident to show persecution.

Yes the mayor was pompous, overbearing, and does not understand the law very well. Typical politician.

On second reading it is clearer that you are contrasting how another blog told this story, and you also found little substance to the way it was originally presented. I think your readers would benefit if you had made that a little clearer at the top.

By the way Xavier, I am a big fan of yours and have been sorry to see the slow-down of postings. I figure we are still lucky to have whatever you offer. I hope it is just because you have more enjoyable things to do with your family, and that your personal life is good.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why I have no gun stuff anywhere visible on or in my vehicle. NO NRA stickers, no state group stickers, no pithy sayings about guns. In fact, I was thinking of putting some Greenpeace, Give Peace a Chance or Love your Neighbor stickers instead.

5:52 AM  
Blogger HAL 9000 said...

My thought in this case it that if you decide to write to the Mayor, do it respectfully and factfully. I think that a few hundred letters gently and logically correcting his error would go much further than a thousand name calling or bashing.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Chris Byrne said...

Mr Wolf.

Frankly, the difference is because with the driver behind the wheel and with the mass of metal and obstructed view to the rear, it is more difficult for someone to shoot the officer.

The majority of shootings of police officers in the united states occur during traffic stops of criminals.

This of course does not give officers the right to treat you as a felon from the get go; but that is what happens when they are trained from day one that "officer safety" is more important than your rights (and they are).

Some time in the 1970s, mostly as a result of the "war on drugs", Americas police (except in small town and rural America) largely decided that it was a war out there, they were the good guys, and the general public was the enemy; or at best a barely tolerated nuisance.

As the meth issue got worse throughout the 80s and 90s', and combined with increaseing emphasis on militarism by both the federal government, and police trainers; even in rural America this militaristic, seperatist, alienated, hostile, and combative attitude has grown, and is now prevailing in most departments I have experience with (I have been a law enforcement trainer myself).


Of course, this isn't to say every, or even MOST cops go out there on a day to day basis looking to do war with the public. Most cops really do wish to protect the public, and catch or stop the bad guys. The problem is, their institutional mindset and training, and the conditions of the job itself; make it hard for them to sometimes figure out who the bad guys are.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Ed Skinner said...

I carry three items together in my wallet: my Driver's License, my Concealed Weapons Permit and a piece of paper with my attorney's name and telephone number.
The officer gets the first two, I keep the third.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous MrWolf said...

Thank you, Mr. Byrne, that makes the whole thing much clearer.

Now, if you can just explain why Americans curse and wave their fists at me when I drive on the 'proper' side of the road........?

Best wishes.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Mike Harbour said...

X:

Just a couple of things about this post and some of its comments: first, your closing says most politicians are ignorant of the law. Well, I'd go further and say most people are ignorant of the law, you and me included.

Part of the problem is elected officials don't always listen to counsel. All municipalities have attorneys; those folks give advice to keep the officials and the municipalities they represent out of trouble. Unfortunately, and I know of what I speak, some officials just pick and choose the counsel they're given.

You and I are the same way; we can both recite our respective states' CWP laws, but could we talk knowledgeably about zoning, for example, or special taxing districts?

Second, one of the posters says there's a law in Oregon for an officer to temporarily seize a firearm during a traffic stop; guess what? I'd wager even if there wasn't such a law, it'd still happen there as it does elsewhere, since all a LEO has to say is he removed the firearm for "his safety." I'd imagine that defense would work in almost state law or not if push came to shove.

Mike Harbour
Helena, Montana

8:49 AM  

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