WS>>MD: Gun seizure prompts House Bill 55
carl william spitzer iv
cwsiv_2nd at JUNO.COM
Tue Feb 26 21:50:48 MST 2002
Thursday, January 17, 2002
MICHAEL A. SAWYERS Times-News Staff Writer
CRESAPTOWN -- In 1983, at the age of 23, Larry Dicken
got in a shoving match resulting from a property boundary
dispute and was convicted of misdemeanor battery, as was the
other party involved in the mutual confrontation.
Because of that, 18 years later -- in August of this
past year -- Maryland State Police came to Dicken's Louise
Drive home and confiscated all 14 of his firearms.
The firearms were confiscated by what state police call
the Cease Fire Unit.
"The attorney general has advised state police to
interpret existing federal law in such a way as to allow for
these types of confiscations of guns from law-abiding citi-
zens. It's unacceptable," said Delegate Kevin Kelly. The
delegate said SWAT teams are used to retrieve guns in some
Kelly and Dicken are close friends. When police told
Dicken what was coming down, he called Kelly, an attorney,
who was present for much of the gun confiscation. State
police took Dicken's handguns, but allowed Kelly to take
possession of his friend's longguns, the delegate said.
Kelly, a staunch defender of the rights of gun owners,
touts the fact that he is the only member of the Maryland
General Assembly to receive Defender of Freedom awards from
the National Rifle Association and the Maryland State Rifle
and Pistol Association. The Allegany County Democrat has
introduced House Bill 55 to clarify when gun confiscations
are legal. The bill's four co-sponsors include Speaker of
the House Casper Taylor Jr. and Delegate George Edwards.
Kelly said the 1983 assault conviction resulted in a
$100 fine and 30-day suspended jail sentence for Dicken.
But because a jail term of one year or more could have been
imposed, his firearms were confiscated.
Dicken's guns were confiscated after he was rejected in
an attempt to purchase a handgun at a Hancock dealer, even
though he had successfully purchased other handguns there in
1999 and 2000, Kelly said.
Kelly's House Bill 55 would prevent state officials
from enforcing the federal statute and would clearly state
that anyone who actually was sentenced to a year or more in
jail would be forbidden from ever again owning or possessing
a gun in Maryland.
"The federal statute does not have to be enforced
anyway," Kelly said. "The wording is that it could be en-
forced in states, not that it shall be enforced."
Kelly said he is not surprised at the current enforce-
ment scenario, nd that it is in line with opinions expressed
by Attorney General Joseph Curran in his document "A Fare-
well To Arms," which deals with gun laws and gun ownership
"I was shocked when the police said they were going to
take my guns," Dicken said, admitting that he cursed at the
two plainclothes officers last August after they told him
why they were at his house. "Then I called Kevin."
Police also confiscated a handgun registered to Dick-
en's wife, Kathy. Eventually, all guns were returned after
being put in Kathy's name. They are kept in a cabinet to
which Larry says he does not have a key.
"I'd get five years in jail if I shot a bullet at a tin
can, and my wife would be charged for letting me do it," he
said. "If I didn't know Kevin, we probably would never have
seen those guns again."
A call Tuesday by the Times-News to Lt. Bud Frank,
Maryland State Police, Pikesville, was not returned.
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