It’s amazing how easy it is to commit a felony these days without even knowing it. Robb (The Pantsless One, at Sharp as a Marble) mentioned a few weeks ago how easy it is in Florida. And I came frighteningly close to it yesterday.
Yesterday morning I got a call from my dad. He had to be in the Roanoke area for something, and asked if I wanted to meet him at the Salem Gun Show. Of course, I said yes – I actually had a little spending money, I needed some ammo, and I’d get to spend time with Dad. Three wins at once, right there.
Well, we get there, and it’s not a gun show. Dad does a little investigating and realizes that he misread the flyer he got – this weekend’s gun show is in Winston-Salem, not Salem. So we decide to go to the Gander Mountain Outfitters store in Roanoke, instead. The important thing here is that this entire conversation took place by cell phone – we were both in the parking lot, but hadn’t actually met up yet.
So, “How this is a near brush with committing a felony” you ask?
I looked it up later and found out that The Salem Civic Center was hosting some kind of high school basketball game or tournament at the time.
Since I always carry my gun, if I had stepped out of my car to find Dad I would have committed a felony under Virginia law (specifically, Va. Code Sec. 18.2-308.1, which addresses weapons on school property). The relevant portion reads:
B. If any person possesses any firearm designed or intended to expel a projectile by action of an explosion of a combustible material while such person is upon […] (ii) that portion of any property open to the public and then exclusively used for school-sponsored functions or extracurricular activities while such functions or activities are taking place; […] he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony;
It was open to the public. It was being used at the time exclusively for school-sponsored extracurricular activities. I had a gun. The only thing that kept me from committing a felony was the fact that I have a CHP and didn’t leave my car, which placed me under one of the exemptions to this law:
The provisions of this section shall not apply to […] (vii) a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school.
Had I stepped out of my car, I would have been risking up to five years in jail and permanent loss of my Second Amendment Rights without even knowing it. All because Dad misread a flyer. How does that make sense?
If anyone without a CHP misread that flyer, and brought a gun to trade, they committed a felony without ever leaving their car, unless it was both unloaded and in a case (not a holster, but “a closed container”). There is no consideration of knowledge, and the only consideration for intent is to determine if there is a mandatory minimum five year imprisonment (intent to use triggers that).
Victim Disarmament Gun Free Zones only stop the law-abiding, not criminals, and they can cause a law-abiding citizen to become a criminal by pure accident. Intentionally injuring someone is already a crime. Negligently injuring someone is already a crime. Murder is already a crime. Making one method of doing so even more illegal will do nothing to stop it. Punish intentional or negligent acts that cause harm, and leave innocent acts alone – anything else only punishes the innocent.
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