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

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Mainsail, May 1, 2007.

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  1. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    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:
     
  2. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    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.
     
  3. F4GIB

    F4GIB Member

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    Expect the feds to charge him before the month is out.

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

    SoCalShooter Member

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    That's for me to know and not you!
    He should have kept his damn mouth shut and said not its not full auto. Otherwise get a class 3.
     
  5. Kharn

    Kharn Member

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    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
     
  6. quatin

    quatin Member

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    See how many it shoots in 5 seconds and multiply? :scrutiny:
     
  7. madmike

    madmike Member

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    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.
     
  8. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    The only thing in the "fun class" we can have in Washington are silencers.
     
  9. yhtomit

    yhtomit Member

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    Since the facts are not disputed, I'll just say "That's odd!"

    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
     
  10. xpun8

    xpun8 Member

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    yhtomit,
    that was down right funny, you hit the nail on the head, it is quite odd.
     
  11. dave_pro2a

    dave_pro2a Member

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    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.
     
  12. gezzer

    gezzer Member

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    Great rant thanks I saved it!!!!!!!!
     
  13. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Is it possible for a WA resident to be in compliance with federal NFA
    but still run afoul of the WA state restrictions?
     
  14. yhtomit

    yhtomit Member

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    Sure -- states can have stricter laws than the Feds

    Carl N. Brown asked
    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
     
  15. Glockfan.45

    Glockfan.45 member

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    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.
     
  16. madmike

    madmike Member

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    That would show intent.
     
  17. JerryM

    JerryM Member

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    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
     
  18. Ranb

    Ranb Member

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    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
     
  19. madmike

    madmike Member

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    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.
     
  20. ctdonath

    ctdonath Member

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    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.)
     
  21. FourTeeFive

    FourTeeFive Member

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    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!
     
  22. madmike

    madmike Member

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

    So why bother?
     
  23. theken206

    theken206 Member

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    "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:
     
  24. gezzer

    gezzer Member

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    IMHO this is a good verdict. Auto's are just a very hard to load single shot. Seems very reasonable to me.:)
     
  25. ServiceSoon

    ServiceSoon Member

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    did the federal gov file yet?
     
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