12031e authorizes the "inspection" of a firearm for ammunition, not the "search" of, or for, a firearm. Regardless, LE will routinely exceed their authority under 12031e and "search" the UOC firearm in an effort to locate the serial number. Once in their hands, the serial number invariably will (will be MADE TO, that is) come into plain view, thus allowing them claim Plain View Doctrine. Oh, yeah, "departmental policy" and "training" and "officer safety" are also cited as justification.This is an excellent idea!
Folks who OC seem to be a little apprehensive about bringing a 12013 suit. I wonder: how would a person stopped and searched for "officer safety" when they aren't even in posession of a firearm come out in a lawsuit? If, say, one or two folks carried an obvious UOC firearm, and 15 others carried a cell phone in a covered holster of some sort, how would a lawsuit for illegal search and siezure pan out? They don't have to show probable cause for a search of your firearm, but what if you didn't even have a firearm? Wouldn't that be illegal search and seizure? 12031 only applies to searches of firearms, correct?
The argument would be that they would be searching for "officer safety" because they reasonably thought you were in posession of a firearm, but....
...carrying a firearm isn't against the law, in and of itself, right? How would they argue that their 12031 check of your firearm isn't unconstitutional when you don't even posess a firearm? (In a nutshell: Are 12031 checks constitutional for people who don't carry firearms?)
Even after temporarily relieving the individual of the UOC firearm, a Terry pat-down for additional firearms often occurs. Though "true" RAS of criminality is required for this pat-down, the LEO will claim that the UOC firearm gives rise to RAS that another fireams may be concealed upon the detainee. But again, its all about officer safety.
While a LEO may likely part a locked case from its owner (who is carrying neither openly nor concealed) on the grounds that the case itself could be used as a weapon (officer safety), the question is whether proximity of the carrier of an unmarked, locked case to carriers of UOC firearms gives rise to probable cause, which requires known facts and circumstances. Probable cause is a greater standard than reasonable articulable suspicion. And much greater than a mear hunch. 12031e does not authorize the inspection of the contents of a case, locked or unlocked, for a firearm.
In California, carrying a loaded firearm, openly or concealed without a permit is illegal (in most situations). Also, carrying an unloaded firearm concealed without a permit is illegal. Beginning 1-1-12, carrying an unloaded handgun openly (some exeptions apply) will be illegal.