A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Super Soakers and Overlords

"Officer Safety Bulletin for the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office (training Bulletin # TB-09-003. Dated Feb 23rd, 2009.)

On Feb 22nd, 2009 a patrol Deputy came across the above child’s super soaker. However what was found inside the power soaker was a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Both the shotgun and the water soaker were fully functional."
Last night, one of my friends in law enforcement, a good and honorable man, showed me a bulletin concerning a Mossberg 500 shotgun that was "concealed" within a Super Soaker water gun. We talked about the firearm a bit, and I listened as Micheal told me the pistol grip on the shotgun obviously made it illegal as it "altered" the weapon.

Surprised, I asked if altered weapons were illegal. The response I received was predictable and sad as he answered in the affirmative. I pointed out that the pistol grip depicted on the shotgun was a standard Mossberg less than lethal pistol grip, that a Hasbro Super Soaker grip would not even bolt up to the receiver. Michael refused to believe this and continued to argue that the pistol grip must be a Super Soaker grip and therefore the gun was illegal, even if it met the 26 inch OAL and 18 inch barrel standard.

I saw that Michael would not be swayed from his belief. Perhaps he was correct. So I asked...... If my daughter wanted a pink AR15, and I swapped out the stock, foregrip, and a few other choice items for hot pink accessories, would I then be a felon under the same "no altered guns" statute?

"No," Michael replied, "It's all about intent. It's the intent that matters......." Throughout our conversation Michael kept repeating "I can see where you are going with this."

What a sad state of affairs, when we, as a nation, in the interest of public safety, are willing to let the agents of our government arrest and prosecute people not for what they do, but for what we believe they intend to do. What a pathetic people we are that we would abdicate our rights as Americans to chose to act as we desire, within the reasonable framework of a civilized society. We have chosen to let others think for us, to tell us how to act, what to do, and indeed how to think. The sad thing is, these "overlords" believe they have a divine right to take on this responsibility.

Michael, you thought you knew where I was going with this. No you did not. You had no idea.

Several weeks ago, I wrote that I would attend a civilian police academy. I would take a look at things from the other side of the badge. I have done that, and I am pretty close to the end of the curriculum. I had planned to blog during that time, but my regular readers no doubt noticed that my writing dropped off drastically. There is a reason for that.

The more a man thinks and learns, the less he should open his own pie hole. He should take the time to digest and integrate the new information into his own life experience and perceptions. I have done this, and as I near the completion of the course, I find it increasingly difficult. Last night, Michael mused "You've been through how many weeks of the academy and you haven't learned any more than that?"

No, Michael, I have learned a lot. I just might not have learned what you expected me to.

This morning, I go to the range to shoot under the direction of police firearms instructors. I understand that there may be classmates who have never held a gun before present. I am aware too, that each instructor knows me personally, knows my track record and experience level with a pistol. It will be interesting to see whether they take the opportunity to act as my overlord, or whether they approach me as a citizen who desires to see both sides of the coin. The learning experience continues.........

35 Comments:

Blogger Sean said...

The sad part is many officers have even less knowledge than that. I can't tell you how many times coworkers have called me with gun law questions which most shooters would know the answer to in a heartbeat - not just the class III/AOW stuff, but straightforward "is this magazine legal" kind of things...

6:59 AM  
Blogger Workingstiff said...

Xavier, I look forward to reading your future experiences at the police academy. If I catch your drift--and correct me if I'm wrong--I believe you are experiencing disillusionment not with LE's themselves, but the culture and system that pits them against us--all of us, whether we are criminals or honest law abiding citizens. LE's become a new class of privilege citizen, under a systmem that gives them tremendous leeway to use power as they see fit.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Usagi said...

Wow - so many nails hit right on the head.
I also feel for many of our police officers, many of them have incorrect ideas of what is legal and what is not because they were instructed incorrectly.

8:27 AM  
Blogger JesterToo said...

I believe that concealing the shotgun inside the supersoaker would make it an AOW under NFA rules.

Similar to the "wallet" that concealed the keltecs and allowed them to be fired inside it.

Changing the grip is not anything illegal of course.

9:09 AM  
Blogger stbaguley said...

Thoughtcrime. Orwell coined the term. The idea of it is or should be horrifying. James Joyce wrote (I think) in Portrait of the Artist as a young Man, "All of us have secret thoughts t'would make the Devil blush." Intent as such is important, yes but only clearly defined actions which cause actual harm should be allowed to be banned by law, or we are all criminals. Ayn Rand pointed out that if we are all made criminals whether in this way, or through the piling on of incomprehensible regulation, (which we already have)then the government insiders have the power to pick and chose who they will ruin. Freedom is lost except for the insiders (Rand's "Aristocracy of Pull"), while the government holds color of moral authority. That mere color is enough to lead most of the thoughtless populace (Orwells "Proles") around by the nose. It is bleak and depressing to think about these days. Still you have to remember that the arrogance of those who would rule will always allow them to take their grasping too far. They are always shocked when the excluded populace wakes up and changes the rules back again. Teaparties, Fairtax, the countermarching has already begun. Pray that we can get it done without the assistance of Dr. Guillotine. I think Americans can.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Ed Rasimus said...

Ahh, the issue is one of "intent"...I wonder where in the police academy they offer the course in mind-reading? Failure to realize that ascribing an aspect of "intent" to justification for arrest, detention, etc. is abrogation of our basic civil rights is simply foolish.

Of course, we've just seen another step down the "Hate Crimes" road this past week. Clearly a matter of "intent".

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to be the king...

11:08 AM  
Blogger Montie said...

Xavier,

I have seen the bulletin that your friend showed to you. Is he aware that he violated the "For Law Enforcement Only" provision plainly displayed on the bulletin?

Seriously though, as you well know, Michael is mistaken in his belief that the placing of the pistol grip onto the shotgun (who is to say that it did not come from the manufacturer with that grip) is illegal "based on intent". Intent is not enumerated in the federal law, only the 18" bbl. length and the 26" OAL. As long as you meet those minimum requirements, you are OK even if you have disguised the gun as a "super-soaker". It IS a point of concern (the disguising as a toy)to law enforcement as an officer safety issue (and probably to most civilians too).

At least in my department, the chief has recognized my enthusiasm and expertise in firearms when it comes to any questions about firearms (even the department ammo and firearms choices), or firearms law everything must go through me as an intermediate supervisor/investigator.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Montie said...

JesterToo,

Until the BATFE issues an administrative decision that makes the shotgun/supersoaker an AOW, it is not one. That was the case with the Keltec wallet which was perfectly legal and outside the scope of the NFA until the regulatory change made it an AOW(still legal just requiring NFA paperwork and stamp). Oddly enough, I am not aware of any ruling regarding the old High Standard Derringer wallet being ruled an AOW and it was functionally the same as the Keltec wallet).

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Shwiggie said...

That pistol grip is actually an accessory that comes with the Mossberg 500 in the box. Not only is it silly, it's woefully uninformed.

I installed the grip on mine, but after actually shooting it (felt like it nearly broke my hand), I went looking for something better. This is what I came up with. Très content. For the record, my personal intent is "hot double-aught leaded death to home invaders".

9:16 PM  
Anonymous gamachinist said...

If it would fire while concealed inside the Super Soaker, then it would fall under the NFA of 1934 as an aow ( any other weapon ).
If it had to be removed to fire, then it's pretty much legal under federal law ( as long as the barrel is 18 inches and the over all length is over 26 inches), just as a gun inside a briefcase that has to be removed to fire it.

I agree, the intent doesn't matter as far as the pistol grip is concerned.

There may be other state laws concerning storage and transportation that were violated ( not in a locked case, etc.).

9:25 PM  
Anonymous carbonblack said...

They can be peace officers in the classic "serve and protect" or they can be "law enforcement" with all that implies. There is sad to say no in between.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JesterToo is 100% correct. Many states/municipalities do have laws on the books against "concealing" a firearm inside a sleeve or other cover where only the grip and trigger are exposed. (vs. a "normal" holster where the area for the trigger prevents it from being fired when holstered)

This "wallet" is asking for trouble. Intent is not really a legal reason in this case. Its against the law where I live.

Sounds like the LEO had no idea what he was really talking about, but, only knew enough to be "dangerous".

10:30 PM  
Blogger Atl-LowKey said...

The comment that stbaguley made "Intent as such is important, yes but only clearly defined actions which cause actual harm should be allowed to be banned by law" is true. However even Hollywood has taken to Examples like that seen in the movie CROSSING OVER where the view of lightly defined actions are enough for deportation or arrest in this country now.

We must keep in mind that laws such as altering guns are petty when compared to the freedoms which are being taken from us. Free speech I fear will be something for the History books if we continue down this path.

Our right to these firearms which draw us to these blogs of Xavier will be taken from us again like with the Flood victims. They are waiting for an excuse.

Just another guy in Retail

Erik

12:32 AM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

JesterToo: yep.

AOW is the catchall for caneguns, and other wierdness, as well as purpose designed short shotties.

If it doesn't look like a gun while firing it's an AOW.

That supersoaker/mossberg combo would be perfectly legal if the owner filled out a corporate or trust form 1, and paid the $5 tax.

2:28 AM  
Anonymous WW Paul said...

I too am afraid that we letting go of freedom and liberty, and it bothers me. I picture my grandaughter's children looking at my picture and asking why I let it happen.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Divemedic said...

Actually, the term AOW does not fit here. The law defines an AOW as:

(e) Any other weapon
The term “any other weapon” means any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.


Since this weapon cannot be concealed "on the person" I don't think it fits.

1:43 PM  
Blogger TheBronze said...

Your Cop-friend Michael needs to go back to the Academy and brush up on the law.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether the ruling regarding the pistol "wallets" is right or wrong, its accepted case law at this point until it is succesfuly challenged.

Now, regarding the PERFECTLY LEGAL shotgun hidden inside a super soaker, it would be likely regarded as an AOW.

Juries will likely find that, if you can pull the trigger on a "holstered" long gun, its not in a "holster".

Don't like it? Change the law!!!

8:46 PM  
Blogger Glenn B said...

You call it a sad state of affairs that the government can arrest people for what they intend to do. No sir that is not a sad state of affairs, it is what keeps you safe in your bed at night and safe at your keyboard to write such. Of course the police should be allowed to arrest for intended crimes, even though the police officer with whom you spoke about the super soaker shotgun combo possibly had no idea of what he was speaking or did he. Was he speaking about a state or local law that maybe had been violated. I do not know, there is not enough there in what you wrote about it. So I will grant that he was mistaken because it is not anything under federal law of which I can think.

Back to intent relative to criminal acts. When a person plans to kill hundreds by shooting up or blowing up a school, or attacking a military base, or by buying up chemicals to make bombs, he gets charged not only with a crime that he committed in fact such as conspiracy but for a crime which he intended to commit such as terrorist acts or attempted murder. If he planned it, wrote about it, acquired materials for it it mmay all go toward proving intent. It is up to a jury or judge to decide if the evidence warrants a conviction.

Without criminal intent the FBI would have no case against the suspected terrorist who recently purchased lots and lots of acetone and peroxide. If his inetent was not criminal, say to open a string of beauty parlors whre those chemicals would be used legitimately then great; however, if the intent was to use those chemicals to create bombs that would maime and scar and terrorize then the man should be charged and imprisoned for a long time if found guilty.

Intent is a very important aspect of criminal and civil law but there is another side to it beyond incrimination and that would be exoneration. Many people are accused of crimes like fraud, attempted murder, terroristic acts or whatever and guess what - they often are exonerated because of lack of intent to commit a crime. In other words maybe it is discovered that what happened was an accident or a mistake, or maybe just a sick fantasy, or maybe someone was planning to write a novel and was getting a feel for it all - but none of it was intended toward the crime with with the person was charged. That will often drop or at least reduce charges. I would think that a good safety valve in the law.

Yes the government can charge you and then convict you if they provide evidence of intent regarding many crimes, but you can also be exonerated of many likewise by a showing that there was no intent. Intent works both ways and so it should. Of course if you want to just present one side of the story okay, that is your right but there is this other side that for some reason you do not present. Yet, I am surprised you did not point that out but I guess you were making a point. Acting a bit police like there aren't you - well as you seem to describe the police and how they work anyhow - sort of like your friend Michael.

So tell me, are you ready to say that the government does not need to prove intent and should not arrest based upon intent or for intent. Hmm, let's figure the consequences of that for a moment. They start arresting more people for offenses because the burden of proof has become less by one element that they are currently required to prove in many types of cases but would not be if intent was done away with. Or they arrest fewer people because they cannot arrest for intended crimes so they who intended to commit a crime but were somehow foiled can just go on their merry ways and start all over again and maybe be successful the next time. That would be nice. Be careful of that for which you wish - you just may get it - and it may be a police state or one in which there is anarchy. Take your pick of which you prefer, I much prefer one balanced by law that takes into consideration whether or not someone actually intended to commit a crime or not for many of the offenses on the books today.

All the best,
Glenn B

10:06 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Glenn,

I prefer to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

I would like to purchase more than one box of Sudafed at a time.

I would like to purchase firearms without a criminal background check.

I would like to purchase a pufferfish without a background check.

I would like a knife to be given to me at a restaurant to cut my steak without undergoing a criminal background check.

We are balancing on a slippery slope of infringement of rights that will affect us all. The belief that intent is a valid cause for prosecution is the basis of every gun restriction. If we deem it acceptable, we may as well give up our right to self determination.

Exoneration of the accused through lack of intent does not make the prosecution of the innocent due to perception of intent acceptable.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

Divemedic:

The CFRs are interpreted by BATFE regulations with the consent of congress.

The BATFE has consistently defined anything that doesn't look like a firearm as an AOW. They consider disguising a weapon as "concealed on the person" ... which would include a rifle disguised as a tuba.

Violate this at your peril.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous luckytexan said...

Thought-provoking post, Xavier. I'm looking forward to your follow-up.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Glenn B said...

"h lack of intent does not make the prosecution of the innocent due to perception of intent acceptable."

If that is what you beleive then you really do not understand the law. Perception of intent, perception of evidence, perception of guilt is what leads to prosecution - on that is our criminal law based soundly and with justice! A finding of guilt however is also based upon perception, that of a jury or judge after ruling on the evidence. Evidence is needed and you seem to act as if only perception is what is used. Evidence leads to perception or a belief that someone is guilty. When there is enough evidence to show that there is no rreasonable doubt, then the evidence is called proof. You seem to think, from how I read you, that hunches or gut feelings or evil intent on the part of law enforcement and not really a good study of the evidence at hand is what leads to proving intent and findings of guilt. It is much more complex that you present and I think you know that well but for some reason are on a crusade against any form of our justice system. My bet is that your attendance in a law enforcement academy is only going to be something you use to further lambaste law enforcers in this country with a predetermined plan on your part to do so - but alas I am speaking of intent. Can I prove your intent - maybe and maybe not and that is just how our sustem works. Of course I am not acusing you of any crime.

The thing is, as you said, we are balancing. It is a fine balancing act we do in this country. I have been to a few other countries, and I have worked with law enforcers from several countries. By far, our system is the best one I have seen, read about, studied or ever hope to get charged under should I ever be charged.

I understand what you in essence mean about wanting to be free of indictment for doing regular things. I agree whole heartidly. I too think that over governance, and over zealous lawe enforcers who would tread on our rights need to be reigned in; I also see the need to be able to show intent in certain crimes, and the need for it to be an additional indicator of the mindset of a person in order to prevent them from committing a crime before one was in fact committed or to prove conspiracy.

If you are vehemntly against usinmg intent as an indicator of a crime, then you probably mistake intent for thought. They are not the same. All intent is a type of thought thoguh not all thought is intent. Therefore proving intent is not the same as proving thought crime ala 1984 and being among the mind police type.

Prosecution of the innocent will always take place, so long as we are human. So long as innocents are not wrongly CONVICTTED (which is a world apart from mere prosecution) then we will be okay. If on the other hand we start condemning the innocent as routine without any redress then we are in trouble.

All the best,
GB

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier,

This is just a note from me to you.

I was born, practically, with a gun in my hand. Ok, well, not quite, but I was potty trained with a snub nosed S&W 38. Its a long story. I was 3. Now I am 47.

I really wanted to comment about IdiotsWithGuns. Fantastic piece you put together. I've been handling firearms for 44 years. I find that people, even experienced firearms handlers at times, don't handle stuff very well. Most people don't take the extra effort to lift or drop the muzzle. They'll swing across people.

I remember years ago my father used to just whine and complain when, in movies and on TV, people would do stupid stuff.

I try to keep my mouth shut but sometimes it gets the better of me. My father taught me well. I have superb muzzle directional consciousness. More people need it. They make me nervous.

The two most important rules are the trigger and the muzzle pointing. The rest is a secondary safeguard.

Why is it that a man who keeps a loaded gun in his house is a risk to his children but a movie producer that shows hours of really stupid and dangerous behavior is rich and respectable?

So, here is my il-informed, four letter vocabulary:

your cool
guns rock
thnk yall

This way you can classify me as a cretin with a four letter vocabulary and justifiably not publish my note.
(...unless you really want to. Its OK either way.)

Thanks for all you do for freedom, guns and safety.

-NetRanger ( ntrngr@gmail.com )

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My answer is to stay far away from law enforcement. I don't befriend them, socialize with them, invite them into my home, or do anything to attract their attention. The only time I cross paths with them is when I renew my licenses. Aside from that, I avoid them like the plague. My proudest moment was when I was applying for a particular license, and the police chief piped up that he had no idea who I was, and didn't even know that I lived in town.

I view POs like rattlesnakes. They are a valuable part of our ecosystem. They clean up vermin, and are necessary to a functioning state. Regardless, I don't pat them, bring them home, handle them or spend time in their world. I give them a very wide berth.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Glen,

You apparently fail to recognize that wrongful prosecution can ruin a life just as quickly as a conviction. This is not an uncommon failure among policemen, until they are the accused.

"The law is not right, the law is not wrong. The law is simply the law." Justice Clarence Thomas, LSU Hebert Law School, 2008

It is true that the law now allows intent to commit a crime to be just cause for prosecution. This was not always the case in the United States.

This acceptance of prosecution based on thought has placed us one step closer to Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, Adolph Hitler, and a thousand oppressive governments. My question is simply whether that is acceptable, not whether it is legal.

All the best,
XB

5:56 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Heh.. On a side note, Godwin's law is complete! ;)

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one am just glad your back and hopefully have the photo bug somewhat out of your system or under control. I miss you, says the long time lurker...

10:00 PM  
Blogger Glenn B said...

I recognize the thing about wrongful prosecution, even about wrongful arrest, that is why I strive to get my facts right when I investigate a crime. The truth be told, I am at as much risk or greater risk to be sued or be prosecuted for things I do on my job than you are on yours. It is something for all LEEOs to think about and use as incentive to do a good job justly. In over 30 years as an LEO I have never had a single complaint filed against me because I take into consideration the right way to do things, the rights of those I am investigating and arresting and helping to prosecute and so on. It is exactly what I was trained to do, and doing it the way I was trained has kept me out of trouble.

In other words, I really do see what you mean. Yet, itent is part of a crime whether you want to accept it as such or not, and it also can be the crux of the crime as in some types of conspiracy. Therefore it is a key element during the investigation, the prosecution and the trial. I am not talking about make beleive intent that some arse hat cop or prosecutor wants to say was there when it was not there to start a crusade against made up evil doers. I am talking about things like what led up to the suspected killer at Fort Hood doing what he did. He reportedly showed a lot of intent from what has been reported, that is if the reports are all true. There was more that enough apparent intent to warrant an investigation. Yet none was done and now people are dead - probably because of political correctness and becuase of people who beleive there is nothing wrong with intentions without an actual criminal act having been committed. An heinous act very likely could have been prevented in this case had intent been scrutinized and acted upon properly.

As for the thing about the squirt gun with the shotgun inside, as i said I have no clue what your pal M was talking about with regard to intent. Intent means a lot for certain crimes, but he lost me on what intent that made this a crime. There may be an actual statute against making a real gun look fake, and it may require intent, but I don't know the statutes under which he operates.

Well anyway, I don't want to get you miffed at me, so that is my say. I'll read what you have to say, it is always interesting. Even if we disagree from time to time I think we have a lot in common regarding getting rid of the bad guuys and doing right by the good guys and gun rights and such.

All the best,
GB.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Mike in Montana said...

Penultimate Anon:

While I don't hang around any LEOs, I do like your idea of staying away from them. My father was a 20-year veteran of a large PD, so I respect honest, hardworking officers, but it never occurred to me that sharing info about my firearms collection could possibly be used against me. OK, so probably not every LEO I might befriend and have over for a burger would examine my collection in detail (I have no illegal firearms, BTW), but it could happen. Like you said, it probably is best to give them a wide berth. I hate to continue the "us vs. them" mentality, but the last thing I need is have one of 'em try to bump fire an AR of mine so I end up like Olofson or even Glover!

Mike in Montana

12:56 PM  
Blogger George said...

Welcome back, Xavier. A trip to your blog each day was standard for me.

Your post, and the assorted comments, cover a number of important points. Up here, in the Great White North, we have been experiencing many of the things you mention. In my seven decades, I have seen the public's view of police forces evolve from guarded but unalloyed respect, to something that approaches a hands off attitude.

I am very much aware, now, that any time I am in contact with a police force officer, I may be no longer dealing with someone who is on the same side as I am. (Not that I'm a criminal; I'm not.)

When it comes to firearms ... and all the "hoo haw" that generates up here, there is no doubt that they and I are on opposite sides. And that's even given that legally licensed handgun owners in Canada have gone through at least three levels of police checks (local, provincial and national), as well as a face-to-face interview. If anyone should be conasidered safe, it's got to be us.

Yet, that isn't the case ... either with an individual cop's viewpoint, the hierarchy's position or any of their associations and unions. We are automatically suspect.

As for whether they know the law, I'd like to say that it's much simpler here. Nearly everything is illegal ... and we certainly do not have the traditions or rights that sustain Americans. So it should be a rather straightforward matter for them to be clear and constant.

It's not any better than you have found.

Yes ... that is a big sigh that you hear.

I am looking forward to seeing your after-the-event reactions to your time in the Academy, Xavier. It will be fascinating, I'm sure.

Regards.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Akodo said...

"it is what keeps you safe in your bed at night and safe at your keyboard to write such"

#1 I'd rather be free than safe.

#2 If you are going to make the argument that we need these laws so the police can make us safe, then we need to reverse the cases and laws that allow the police to legally take no action and passively sit by while someone is victimized.

You can't have it both ways.

10:03 PM  
Blogger stbaguley said...

Happy Thanksgiving Xavier! Don't let the turkeys get you down! All the best to you and yours. A personal greeting, so no publication necessary. At least that was my intent. ;-) SDB

7:41 AM  
Blogger JimB said...

All gun laws are based on intent. The assumption that if you have access to a gun you will do somthing illegal with it.

9:42 AM  

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