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
     in Maryland.

          "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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