Gun law inapplicable to trucker


October 18, 2005, 10:46 PM

Volume: 5 Number: 395_tuesday

October 18, 2005

Gun law inapplicable to trucker
Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer

A man who allegedly tried to enter Andrews Air Force Base in March with two firearms and a machete did not violate the state’s handgun statute — because the tractor-trailer he was driving was not traveling on a public highway, the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt has held.

Addressing a novel issue of Maryland law, U.S. District Judge Charles B. Day granted Edwin L. Robson’s motion for judgment of acquittal on the handgun violations. But the government will still have a chance to prove Robson guilty of carrying a dangerous, concealed weapon — the machete — when his trial reconvenes Oct. 3, he decided.

“From a review of Maryland law, it is clear that in order to be considered ‘used by the public’ that open access to all members of the public is necessary,” wrote Day, explaining that “the Base Commander exercises absolute authority to bar the public from coming onto the base at any time. Thus, under Maryland law, AAFB is private property.”

On March 8, private security guards allegedly discovered a .45 caliber pistol, a Colt .45 revolver and a machete inside Robson’s tractor-trailer, during an inspection at the “search pit” near the base’s North Gate.

According to the opinion, Robson tried to locate “an amnesty box” to deposit his weapons for safekeeping, intending to reclaim them when he left the base. The guns were located within a short distance of Robson, “though not within his wingspan,” and the machete was located on the passenger seat of his vehicle.

Robson’s bench trial in U.S. District Court started on June 5. He was charged under Maryland law with wearing, carrying or transporting two firearms “in a vehicle traveling on a road or parking lot generally used by the public, highway, waterway, or airway of the State.”

Prosecutors alleged that Robson transported the pistol and revolver on a highway — defined by law as a “thoroughfare” that is “used by the public” — when he was driving on an access road, approaching the base. The case was recessed for briefing on the issue.

Maryland law applies to the Andrews Air Force Base, classified as federal land, under the Assimilative Crimes Act.

Therefore, those charged with crimes on federal property can stand “prosecution in federal courts for violations of criminal statutes of the state in which the federal lands are located,” Day wrote

Military personnel, their families and those conducting official business are the only ones allowed to enter the base, which is controlled by the base commander, the opinion underscored.

The judge relied on this year’s 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holding in United States v. Smith — and a trio of Maryland cases that did not deal with designation of access roads — to hold that Robson was traveling on restricted land. Thus, he could not be guilty of violating Maryland’s handgun statute, Day concluded.

Smith revolved around a man convicted of driving with a suspended license on an access road to the CIA headquarters in McLean, Va. In that case, the 4th Circuit held the access road could not be classified as a highway, because CIA headquarters were not open to the public.

“Here like in Locklear, Atkins, Wamsley and Smith, the owner can exercise plenary control over the property to exclude the general public and only those with express or implied permission can freely enter the property,” Day wrote, then adding “as a result, the AAFB North Gate access road is not a ‘highway’ under the Maryland Code.”

While acquitting Robson of the handgun charges, Day decided that it was up to the government to establish whether the machete was indeed concealed. He also noted that the government did have enough evidence to demonstrate that the guns were in working condition.


Case:United States of America v. Edwin Robson, USDMD No. 05-1428M. Opinion by Day, J. Filed Oct. 13, 2005.


Should the court grant a motion for judgment of acquittal of a man accused of transporting handguns and a machete on the access road of a federal base, and of concealing a dangerous weapon?


Yes, in part. While the access road to the federal base can not be classified as a “highway” under Maryland’s gun law — requiring an MJOA on those charges — the government can still prove that the machete was a concealed weapon.

RecordFax: #5-1014-40 (15 pages)

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October 18, 2005, 11:06 PM
Good deal.

October 18, 2005, 11:09 PM
the machete was located on the passenger seat of his vehicle.

So, tell me, please - how was the machete "concealed" if it was in plain sight on the passenger seat???

Maryland laws... :fire:

October 18, 2005, 11:15 PM
On the passenger seat under a a pile of papers?

October 19, 2005, 10:55 AM
I'm sure every trucker carries a number of more or less concealed weapons: tire irons, "cheater" pipes to tighten load binders ("boomers"), etc ... :rolleyes:

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