WA Courts Rule: Not an Auto w/o the Mag


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Mainsail
May 1, 2007, 04:53 PM
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON

DIVISION II

STATE OF WASHINGTON,
Appellant, NO. 32514-4-II

v.
PUBLISHED OPINION
MARCUS A. CARTER,
Respondent.

Van Deren, J. -- The State appeals the dismissal of a machine gun possession charge,

contrary to RCW 9.41.190(1) and .010(7), against Marcus Alton Carter. The trial court

dismissed the charge because the State lacked sufficient evidence to prove that an ammunition

supply device, defined by RCW 9.41.010(7), was present at the scene. The State argues that the

statute does not require it to show the presence of an ammunition supply device and that the trial

court erred in disregarding its evidence that such a device was present. Because RCW

9.41.010(7) contemplates a weapon accompanied by an ammunition supply device and because

the State did not respond with an affidavit containing evidence of an ammunition supply device,
the trial court did not err in dismissing the State's case on Carter's Knapstad1 motion. We affirm

and construe the trial court's dismissal to be without prejudice.

1 State v. Knapstad, 107 Wn.2d 346, 729 P.2d 48 (1986).

NO. 32514-4-II

FACTS

Carter was the chief instructor of a certification course for firearms safety instructors.

Two investigators from the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's office, Bruce Jackson and

Frank Clark, attended the course. As part of the instruction, Carter asked the students to

familiarize themselves with a firearm and prepare for practical training presentations. These

included demonstrating how to operate the weapon.

From the available firearms, Jackson selected a Colt AR-15 rifle that Carter had identified

as his personal rifle. Having owned an AR-15 since the seventies, Jackson was familiar with its

normal functions. He noticed that the safety/selector switch was not characteristic of the AR-15,

instead it resembled one from a military M-16 that could be moved to a full automatic fire

position. He then opened the weapon and found a non-standard "auto sear block," which

suggested that the weapon had been modified to fire as a machine gun. Clerk's Papers (CP) at 2.

He also noticed that the standard hammer had been replaced with a M-16 hammer.

After class, Jackson and Clark asked Carter if he had modified the rifle for automatic fire.

He admitted that he had. When they told him that possessing such a weapon was illegal, he

offered to demonstrate that it would not function in automatic mode but said that he needed to

"get some ammunition first." CP at 45. During the investigators' ensuing attempts to confiscate

the rifle, Carter insisted on his constitutional right to bear arms, and his teenage son claimed that

the law against possession of automatic firearms was stupid because semi-automatic fire was more

accurate and effective, while automatic fire "just sprayed a lot of bullets everywhere." CP at 48.

Jackson and Clark eventually seized the rifle without an ammunition supply device. The

Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory examined it and found that it contained "the following

parts from an M16 rifle--Safety (selector),

2

NO. 32514-4-II

Disconnector, Trigger, Hammer, and Bolt Carrier." CP at 32. Examiners also test-fired it after

they inserted an ammunition supply device and determined that it was capable of automatic fire at

an average rate of 787 rounds per minute.

The State charged Carter under RCW 9.41.190(1) and .010(7) for possession of a

machine gun. The trial court initially suppressed the weapon as unlawfully seized, and we

affirmed. State v. Carter, noted at 112 Wn. App. 1046 (2002). The Supreme Court reversed and

remanded for trial. State v. Carter, 151 Wn.2d 118, 129-30, 85 P.3d 887 (2004).

Carter then brought a Knapstad motion to dismiss on the ground that the rifle did not

meet the statutory definition of a machine gun because it did not have a '"reservoir clip, disc,

drum, belt, or other separable mechanical device for storing, carrying, or supplying ammunition

which can be loaded into the firearm, mechanism, or instrument, and fired therefrom at the rate of

five or more shots per second."' CP at 52 (quoting RCW 9.41.010(7)). In its response to this

motion, the State did not deny the absence of an ammunition supply device, but argued, instead,

that this showing was unnecessary. At the motion hearing, however, the State offered an e-mail

exchange between Jackson and a prosecutor in which Jackson said there were magazines present

at the scene.

The trial court determined that the State had to show the presence of an ammunition...

Read the whole thing here (http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.showOpinion&filename=325144MAJ):

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Carl N. Brown
May 1, 2007, 06:07 PM
This is a state court dismissing a state charge of violating a state law.

If the converted AR is in violation of federal law (as in not NFA) that
is a whole 'nother ball game and playing field.

F4GIB
May 1, 2007, 06:28 PM
Expect the feds to charge him before the month is out.

His state trial is not "double jepordy" to a federal offense.

SoCalShooter
May 1, 2007, 06:30 PM
He should have kept his damn mouth shut and said not its not full auto. Otherwise get a class 3.

Kharn
May 1, 2007, 06:32 PM
Examiners also test-fired it after they inserted an ammunition supply device and determined that it was capable of automatic fire at an average rate of 787 rounds per minute. I wonder how many mags they had to go through to arrive at that 787 figure? I bet it was more than a few. :scrutiny:

Kharn

quatin
May 1, 2007, 06:35 PM
See how many it shoots in 5 seconds and multiply? :scrutiny:

madmike
May 1, 2007, 08:27 PM
Wait...he was teaching firearm safety to cops with an illegal conversion????

If so, he's not too bright, and his clients aren't either.

Cesiumsponge
May 1, 2007, 08:35 PM
The only thing in the "fun class" we can have in Washington are silencers.

yhtomit
May 1, 2007, 09:11 PM
Odd that he'd have an illegally modified AR15 as one of the rifles to choose from, by law-enforcement types, whom he was instructing!

That seems like serving homemade moonshine in cups woven from fresh marijuana plants and waterproofed with black tar heroin to a convention of Revenuers, with the still in plain sight as a centerpiece, and a cockfight going on around it, attended by unlicensed, underage nude dancers loudly offering cocaine to infants ...

*That* kind of odd.

timothy

xpun8
May 1, 2007, 09:41 PM
yhtomit,
that was down right funny, you hit the nail on the head, it is quite odd.

dave_pro2a
May 1, 2007, 10:08 PM
I hope the state legistaltors don't decide to 'fix' this 'problem.'

Right now you can carry a rifle and loaded mag in the car, as long as the mag is not inserted in the magwell. It takes an inserted mag for the rifle to be considered loaded, and this not allowed in a car iirc. So as is you can carry a rifle 'almost' at ready, an I hope you still can in the future.

Cesiumsponge, you can own a silencer in WA, but you cannot legally use it. Stupid, but afaik it's the law.

gezzer
May 1, 2007, 11:40 PM
Odd that he'd have an illegally modified AR15 as one of the rifles to choose from, by law-enforcement types, whom he was instructing!

That seems like serving homemade moonshine in cups woven from fresh marijuana plants and waterproofed with black tar heroin to a convention of Revenuers, with the still in plain sight as a centerpiece, and a cockfight going on around it, attended by unlicensed, underage nude dancers loudly offering cocaine to infants ...
Great rant thanks I saved it!!!!!!!!

Carl N. Brown
May 3, 2007, 05:59 PM
Is it possible for a WA resident to be in compliance with federal NFA
but still run afoul of the WA state restrictions?

yhtomit
May 3, 2007, 08:32 PM
Carl N. Brown asked "Is it possible for a WA resident to be in compliance with federal NFA but still run afoul of the WA state restrictions?"

Note the 1st: I am not a lawyer, and this advice is worth just what you paid for it. However, I did just finish a 2d-year law school course titled "Federal Criminal Law" ;)

But, until actual lawyers with better knowledge correct me, I'll blurt this out: Yep, it's possible to be in full compliance with Fed'l regs, but not with state ones; states are free to impose stronger criminal laws (and in some cases, to supply stronger protections to the accused) than the Feds do. What they can't do is issue laws that are *less* stringent than the Feds and have 'em pre-empt existing Fed'l law.

So they can make cultivating or inhaling the smoke of particular weeds punishable to an even more insane degree than the Feds do, but they can't say "This state is a no-no-tolerance zone for selfsame weeds."

Now, how rules that micromanage the nature or type of small arms available to private citizens pass a Constitutional sniff test at all ... well, they don't pass mine, but then my views are rarely inquired of by the justices. (The Cato folks would I'm sure be pleased to send them a copy of the Bill of Rights, though.)

timothy

Glockfan.45
May 3, 2007, 08:42 PM
Wait I didnt read where he had a auto sear, lightning link, or drop in auto sear in the rifle. How would he have been in violation of the law without that one key part? The general opinion seems to be that having a M16 selector, bolt carrier, hammer, disconector, or all of the above installed in you AR15 is legal as long as you don't have the sear.

madmike
May 3, 2007, 09:27 PM
He then opened the weapon and found a non-standard "auto sear block," which suggested that the weapon had been modified to fire as a machine gun. Clerk's Papers (CP) at 2.

That would show intent.

JerryM
May 3, 2007, 09:52 PM
Sometimes I marvel at how dumb some are. The laws regarding full auto weapons are well known. I did not read all in minute detail, but it appears he was very fortunate, and probably deserved the charge.

Jerry

Ranb
May 7, 2007, 12:22 PM
Carter works at one of the local rifle ranges where I live. Apart from the charges of owning an illegal machinegun, he is a nice guy, very helpful with anything.

Ranb

madmike
May 7, 2007, 12:57 PM
Nice guy and not a threat to anyone does not = not in violation of the law, and silly about publicizing the fact around people obligated to comment on that fact.

A shame, but true.

ctdonath
May 7, 2007, 07:09 PM
Interesting point.
No magazine = unable to fire more than one round per trigger pull.

Who sez the ATF (or whoever) can add stuff to a gun the owner didn't have, only to make it do stuff the owner couldn't? No mag, no second round.

(Ok, practically it's a stretch - but makes for interesting legal ponderings.)

FourTeeFive
May 7, 2007, 07:37 PM
The only thing in the "fun class" we can have in Washington are silencers.

We can own them, but can't actually use them. Silly, I know.

But even sillier is bringing an illegal weapon to a class to teach firearm instructors. Most of us would also recognize a select-fire AR15. That's just ASKING for trouble!

madmike
May 7, 2007, 07:43 PM
Interesting point.
No magazine = unable to fire more than one round per trigger pull.

Who sez the ATF (or whoever) can add stuff to a gun the owner didn't have, only to make it do stuff the owner couldn't? No mag, no second round.

(Ok, practically it's a stretch - but makes for interesting legal ponderings.)

Only if you don't own and AR mags to go with your AR.

So why bother?

theken206
May 7, 2007, 07:57 PM
"The only thing in the "fun class" we can have in Washington are silencers."


yup and you cant even use the damn thing legally.:banghead:

gezzer
May 8, 2007, 12:21 AM
IMHO this is a good verdict. Auto's are just a very hard to load single shot. Seems very reasonable to me.:)

ServiceSoon
May 8, 2007, 06:49 AM
did the federal gov file yet?

gunsmith
May 8, 2007, 07:29 AM
yep that sure is odd, thanks for a great laugh!

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