Can Your Collection of Firearms Be Used Against You?

Posted 5 years ago — Ooley Law Blog

Suppose that a member keeps an extensive collection of legal rifles, shotguns and handguns locked in a safe, and uses his or her carry gun in justifiable self-defense.

Can the gun collection be discussed in a trial to suggest to a jury that the armed citizen is a blood thirsty monster, not a good member of the community?

How would a prosecutor or plaintiff’s attorney introduce that line of reasoning? If defending the member, how would you counter the accusation if it arose?

From the perspective of Indiana law, I believe the answer to this question is relatively straightforward. I do not believe that a prosecutor or plaintiff’s attorney in Indiana would be allowed to introduce evidence of any extensive collection of legally owned firearms under evidence in the scenario provided. In Indiana, our courts have said that evidence of firearms possessed by defendant, but not used in a purported crime for which the defendant is charged, generally should not be introduced because the evidence is irrelevant and highly prejudicial. 

Please keep in mind that this response is referring to firearms not connected with the purported crime or self-defense. This is not to say that it wouldn’t be possible for a prosecutor or plaintiff’s attorney to argue for the admission of evidence as support for corroboration of some other factual dispute, but I believe under Indiana law it would be highly unusual to expect that evidence of a gun collection would be heard by any potential jury. This would apply to both a civil and criminal case.

To ensure that the evidence of a gun collection is not introduced, one would expect defendant’s attorney to file a motion in limine or other pretrial motion to preclude the prosecution in a criminal case or plaintiff attorney in a civil case from mentioning or attempting to introduce evidence of any gun collection.

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