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Old September 5, 2013, 04:07 PM   #1
KyJim
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D.C. sinking to new lows - arrested for having an empty casing?

Emily Miller, a Washington Times editor, is coming out with a new book and recounts seeing a D.C. police roll call advisory which directed officers to overlook a spent shell casing in a car if the driver had a registration certificate with them, despite an apparent law to the contrary. Thus, if you don't have a registration certificate, you can be arrested for a completely spent shell casing. I don't have a link to the law but here's a link to the story -- http://washingtonexaminer.com/warnin...rticle/2535216.

I can't believe such a law would pass any level of scrutiny, even rational basis. It is WAY overbroad. I mean, how much more harmless can you get than a spent shell casing?
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Old September 5, 2013, 04:32 PM   #2
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Agreed, but the TSA goes into similar spasms over harmless pieces of brass.
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Old September 5, 2013, 04:46 PM   #3
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Wow, would this also apply to, say, a .50 BMG cartridge converted into a bottle opener?
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Old September 5, 2013, 04:51 PM   #4
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Agreed, but the TSA goes into similar spasms over harmless pieces of brass.
Actually, that happens quite often. I've spoken to several folks who've had that "oopsie." Absent other issues, it results in a lecture, not an arrest.
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Old September 5, 2013, 06:06 PM   #5
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It's the same in Massachusetts - you have to have an FID or LTC to possess ammunition and the definition of ammunition includes shell casings, bullets (i.e., only the projectile), primers, or powder. I've never heard of anyone being arrested for possessing a spent case, but technically it's illegal.
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Old September 5, 2013, 07:18 PM   #6
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Agreed, but the TSA goes into similar spasms over harmless pieces of brass.
Went to a relatives funeral who had a gun-salute from the local VFA... put a spent 30-06 casing from the volley in my bag and went straight to the airport after the service.

I only had a single small carry-on and didn't even think of the casing in there... of course it pops up on the x-ray and I get called back for a bag-search... TSA was very cool when I told him why I had the spent casing. I think a lot of your interaction with the TSA depends on your attitude. Perhaps my experience was partially due to my clean-cut military appearance and showing my military ID card instead of drivers license when they asked to see an ID back in the inspection area, but I'm confident that my friendly demeanor, big smile, and understanding attitude went a long way. I was back there for about 2 minutes and then on my way to the gate, shell casing in my pocket.
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Old September 5, 2013, 07:22 PM   #7
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I usually dig a few out in my pocket change @ the register. Hilarity often follows.
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Old September 5, 2013, 08:42 PM   #8
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Would that be from a ridiculously literal interpretation of the law or is this actually happening on a regular basis in reality.

Here in NYC you often see punk kids wearing ammo belts around their hips as, well, belts. Complete with brass, bullet, used primer, links, but no powder. I did too when I was younger. No problems from anyone. Only at school they said we can't wear them. Though it was OK without the bullets (but a belt full of empty cases looks stupid)
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Old September 5, 2013, 09:41 PM   #9
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I was there for the discussions on the ammo law in DC. It was discussed as an add on to illegal weapons possession. That is legitimate. IE having an illegal gun in possession is one thing, having ammo with you and it is a legitimate aggravating circumstance.

The fact that in DC otherwise innocent people who inadvertently have a small amount of ammo but no weapon have been arrested and charged is a perversion of the way that law was discussed during passage.

So if you own a legal weapon but your wife does not have a registration you have to triple check you vehicle. A single round in the car can result in serious problems.

Bu the way some aspect of the ammo law were just changed. Miller is has done some great work but even her book does not have all the up to date info on DC gun law. Reading Millers book in some cases she does a disservice by making the current process look much more difficult than it actually is.
EG if you go into the firearms office with a handgun already owned from out of state, and it complies with Mass, Calif, or Marlyand allowed list, you are going to be out of there, registered and with your firearm, in two hours and $18 lighter. That beats the daylights out of quite a few other states.

If you are getting a new firearm you ship it to the FFL, which is in the same building as the firearms office, arrive ten days after the initial purchase transaction, and you will be out with your weapon in two hours about $160 lighter. (that is mostly $125 ffl fee). That is about six weeks less time than most in Maryland or NJ have to wait

I would not take a DC police roll call read out -- or advice from the firearms office -- as ANYTHING meaningful on what is legal or illegal in DC. They will tell you it is illegal to have ammo shipped when it is not. They were saying it was illegal to possess calibers of ammo not identical to your registered firearm for half a year after the law was changed.

You can own ammo without a permit of you are in process of getting one (what burden of proof on that is unknown). And if you have a permit you can own any type of ammo unless it only goes in a proscribed firearm (eg 50 bmg) or proscribed type (leo penetration types)

Last edited by TDL; September 5, 2013 at 09:54 PM.
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Old September 5, 2013, 09:58 PM   #10
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If a jurisdiction wants to make white underwear or smiling a capital crime, that is their (nutty/ add your own adjective). I don't have to visit there.

Unfortunately, in some businesses you have to go to DC...
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Old September 5, 2013, 10:02 PM   #11
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TDL - The OP addresses empty cartridge cases, i.e., those which have been shot and only part of the cartridge in the possession of the shooter is the cartridge case with a spent (used) primer. In short, empty cartridge cases are not "ammo".
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Old September 6, 2013, 06:51 AM   #12
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@lefteye, except no one ever has been charged (or apparently arrested) for possession of casing in DC. What miller, and I think sensationally, is noting is a clarification at a roll call that no one should be arrested for it.

I would bet such a question, of what constitutes controlled ammo reloading materials , has come up for clarification in scores of police departments over the years. It certainly came up before the Mass courts several times (see below link)

Cops asking for clarification, and getting it, at a roll call is interesting, but pretty thin grounds for the way Miller spun it. There are many, much much worse problems with DC gun law.

Essentially the episode might have transpire such:
Friday Roll call in some MPDC district:
Officer:"Sargent, are spent casings ammo? Are they reloading supplies? I it illegal to posses them without a DC firearms registration?"
Sargent: "I will get back to you on that, next week:

Next Monday roll call:
Sargent: "Regardless of the fuzziness, we will not be arresting people for a few spent shell casings."


By the way this has come up before in other jurisdictions:
http://www.massbar.org/publications/...-shell-casings

Last edited by TDL; September 6, 2013 at 07:56 AM.
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Old September 6, 2013, 08:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TDL
EG if you go into the firearms office with a handgun already owned from out of state, and it complies with Mass, Calif, or Marlyand allowed list, you are going to be out of there, registered and with your firearm, in two hours and $18 lighter. That beats the daylights out of quite a few other states.
So the best case scenario is that one is limited to an allowed list and pays $18 and has two hours taken of his day just so the state can record that you have a handgun?

That is outrageous. I do not think I spent that long getting my drivers license.
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Old September 6, 2013, 11:45 AM   #14
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What miller, and I think sensationally, is noting is a clarification at a roll call that no one should be arrested for it.
No one with a registration certificate in their possession. For those without a certificate . . .
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Old September 6, 2013, 11:45 AM   #15
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Fired cases are not ammunition, unless so defined in law (and while apparently that has been done in some places, its quite rare). And actual arrests and prosecutions for having a fired case alone are more then rare.

Even the most rabid anti gun areas generally allow their officers some latitude, particularly when it comes to a single fired case or two. Even if the local law provides for it, I doubt any prosecutor would try such a case. Cost vs benefit to the public, and the tremendous public opinion backlash that would result from it just make it a waste of their time.

That being said, in a situation where a fired case is something unusual, it could, and perhaps ought to be grounds for suspicion. Grounds for an arrest, on the fired case(s) alone? No. But seeing fired brass where you usually don't see it ought to have officers wondering what else is going on.

A few spent shells in the back of a pickup truck out in the country is one thing. Spent 9mm cases on the rear seat floorboard of a sedan, occupied by inner city youth, is quite another.
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Old September 6, 2013, 03:38 PM   #16
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So the best case scenario is that one is limited to an allowed list and pays $18 and has two hours taken of his day just so the state can record that you have a handgun?

That is outrageous. I do not think I spent that long getting my drivers license.
I lived in DC for almost 20 years before going to Va. I also have current DC registration for my place of business in DC.

I agree if you are coming from the point of view of many states that the laws in DC are onerous. But lets be informed, there are now MORE states even more onerous. In practical terms buying an handgun is a MUCH easier and quicker proposition in DC than in Maryland or NJ.

I oppose DC's gun laws, but it is absurd it is listed as the worst jurisdiction when I can think of several states that are MUCH worse.

Quote:
No one with a registration certificate in their possession. For those without a certificate
My point being that is an example of Miller or the examiner getting their facts wrong.

I like Miller, but she does get it wrong occasionally. I saw her speak once and she also got FFL requirements for long gun purchases wrong (you don't have to go through DC's FFL to buy a long gun in DC, just through the firearms registry).


Quote:
A few spent shells in the back of a pickup truck out in the country is one thing. Spent 9mm cases on the rear seat floorboard of a sedan, occupied by inner city youth, is quite another.
Exactly. Spent casing and shotgun shells are a common thing to see walking around rural areas. Nothing suspicious. There is no legal place in DC to fire a weapon at all with the exception of mortal danger in your own home or business. If I saw one on a urban city street or vehicle (and all of DC is urban) I would be suspicious.

Last edited by TDL; September 6, 2013 at 03:56 PM.
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Old September 6, 2013, 03:45 PM   #17
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You need a registration certificate to be in legal possession of a spent casting? Or a piece of lead? WOW! No wonder people lose respect for the law, and law enforcement personnel who enforce them.

Happily our county sheriff sent a letter to those in charge that he would refuse to enforce any new Federal gun law he believes is unconstitutional. He's a great guy and has no problem signing off on the ATF forms for machinegun purchases.
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Old September 6, 2013, 03:54 PM   #18
TDL
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You need a registration certificate to be in legal possession of a spent casting?
Again, there is NO evidence you need to be. It is bad reporting. It is not in the DC code or DC case law. There is zero evidence of a single arrest.

A hypotheticals question, which may or may not have been accurately reported, is not a law.

In DC you are required to have firearms registration (it is a plastic card like a CCW permit but not for CCW) in possession or be in the process of acquiring a foid, while in possession of ammunition. The question likely came up because some other jurisdictions and courts apparently ALREADY define spent casings as ammunition.

As I noted there are much more salient problems with DC ammo provisions and gun laws than this made up problem
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Old September 7, 2013, 11:58 AM   #19
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"In DC you are required to have firearms registration (it is a plastic card like a CCW permit but not for CCW) in possession or be in the process of acquiring a foid, while in possession of ammunition." Maybe you can explain to me how this ISN'T a problem?
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Old September 8, 2013, 05:36 PM   #20
TDL
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Maybe you can explain to me how this ISN'T a problem?
Please don't assume I am going to defend DC's gun laws. All of it is onerous, all of it is scapegoating, and all of it is a slippery slope. OK?

The only legitimate reason for ammo laws IMHO is add on to an existing gun violation by a prohibited person, or during commission of a crime. IE gun crime bad, loaded gun crime worse

I am just tying to explain the practicalities of DC's laws. I also think Miller, in this rare case, is exaggerating.

I am friends with a number of DC gun owners and am a non resident one myself (If you have a place of business in DC you get a permit to keep one there and transport it back and forth). We used to have a big paper certificate. You simply kept it in your pistol case and when you went to the range, you had it with you by virtue of both the weapon and registration being in the pistol box. When you went to buy ammo, at a place other than the range, you took th certificate with you. Biggest hassle was they often became totally illegible from gun oil.

About the same time as the ammo shortage, DC stated issuing laminated cards like Driver's licenses. Almost al lof us keep them in our wallets now, which is a good idea since we are opportunistically buying at walmarts/dicks etc as even though it is legal, no one will ship us ammo.


My main point is asserting DC is the worst place, and gunsandammo and several other sites list us as the worst place, is bogus when it comes to practicalities, especially when it comes to handguns.

EG. Maryland is going to outlaw modern sporting weapons just like DC. They are defacto no ccw like DC. It already takes three to four times as long to get a handgun in Maryland as it takes in DC.

Massachusetts and California allow way less models than DC (we use their list of allowed plus the much bigger Maryland list. If it is on any of the three lists it is ok)

NJ also effectively has very little CCW, and also has much longer process and wait times for a simple home defense pistol.

And as I said fired cases are considered ammunition in Mass as well according to case law.

So, DC law is absurd. But we are being outdone in absurdity by quite a few other juristicuons.

Last edited by TDL; September 8, 2013 at 06:19 PM.
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