Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Legal Implications of Gun-related Tchotchkes in Florida

I often hear of gun owners' aversions to gun-related tchotchkes, not because they don't want a particular item, but because they fear legal implications of having gun-related "stuff".  The concern is that in the aftermath of a self-defense shooting, things like a bullet-casing key chain, or an NRA doormat could be used by an overzealous prosecutor to portray the person as a "gun nut."  I stumbled across a Florida case that suggests such evidence would be inadmissible in Florida:
Above appellant's bed on the day of the search was a quotation:
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill because they pissed me off.
[W]e disagree with the state that the sign over the defendant's bed “had a logical tendency to rebut” the defense that appellant “was unaware that an armed robbery of the victim was to take place.” Nothing in the evidence supported the theory espoused by the state at trial to admit the sign-that appellant was the shooter. In fact, the jury specifically found otherwise. The sign is an example of a genre of humor, the “folk wisdom” found on bumper stickers or bathroom walls. See supra, note 1. It is not probative of appellant's state of mind in this case, any more than possession of “The Godfather” DVD would *1232 demonstrate a predisposition for homicide in resolving business problems.
O'Connor v. State, 835 So. 2d 1226, 1231-32 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003).  That said, one can imagine situations where gun paraphernalia might be admissible, such as where a defendant denied that he owns any guns.  Aside from the legal implications of displaying your gun "stuff", there are always social consequences.  For example, I wonder if anyone has ever done a study as to whether vehicles displaying an NRA bumper sticker are more or less likely to be burglarized?

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