New Mexico – The state Supreme Court has ruled that police can temporarily remove a visible gun from a car during a traffic stop even if they have no suspicion the occupants are dangerous.
The justices said that ensuring the safety of law enforcement officers justifies removal of the gun from a vehicle.
The court issued the unanimous ruling on Friday in a case involving a traffic stop in Hobbs in 2008. Police stopped a car that had an expired license plate and saw a handgun on the back seat floorboard. Police removed the gun and arrested the passenger in the car after determining that he owned the gun and had a felony conviction.
The court said removing the gun did not violate constitutional rights against an unreasonable search and seizure.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.