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Something’s Fishy in Upper Darby

If you’re into collecting and shooting firearms, it’s a very good idea to not also be into drugs. That link is to an article and video of another “arsenal” seizure in Upper Darby, just outside of Philadelphia. If it wasn’t for the drugs and explosives, the news media wouldn’t have gotten their “Look! Dangerous gun owners!” story. It’s quite possible the drugs were the guy’s tenant, but that’s immaterial if he had functioning explosive devices.

I am disturbed by two things here. One is that apparently being denied entry into the home was grounds for a warrant? I mean, clearly he had something to hide right? So much for the fourth amendment.

The other thing is that he’s being charged under Title 18 § 2716 “Weapons of mass destruction” of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues. This is a poor drafted law for a number of reasons, first is that it defines biological agent as:

“Biological agent.” A natural or genetically engineered pathogen, toxin, virus, bacteria, prion, fungus or microorganism which causes infections, disease or bodily harm.

Technically it would be illegal to culture strep or staph under this law, which is something labs do all the time. Home brewers can also end up doing it on slants used for culturing brewer’s yeast.

“Nuclear agent.” A radioactive material.

My smoke detector is a weapon of mass destruction under this definition. But I suspect this fellow falls under this definition:

“Bomb.” An explosive device used for unlawful purposes.

If I were this guy, I’d get a good attorney. This is bad law, and I’d like to see it modified. Even though I think the state can make it illegal to house explosives in a residential area, this was a case of the police finding the guy’s guns, and looking for any excuse to charge him with something, because clearly he was a menace to society, or something.

10 Responses to “Something’s Fishy in Upper Darby”

  1. Dano says:

    Define ‘explosives’.

    Technically speaking, my house is a bomb because I have a gas furnace, water heater, and clothes dryer (ever see what a Fuel Air Explosive can do?). Or even the gas can in the garage for the lawn mower. Let us not forget the lawn fertilizer…

    And about the bio part? Lets talk about the ‘natural’ fungus growing in my basement…

    Yet another, ‘Here’s your sign…’

  2. chris says:

    from the story, the cops showed up on a report of smoke comming from a wood stove in the garage…. what cause did they have for a warrant?

    im not sure its illegal to own any of the weapons shown in the video either… the coke… well yeah thats a problem, but as you said, that could belong to anyone…

    and the IED thing, gotta wonder if that isnt some way to charge a crime for someone that possessed metal containers full of reloading powder or something…

  3. Sebastian says:

    What I’m wondering is why he isn’t facing charges on the explosives? If he has explosives in the house, there are other charges for that.

  4. Jim W says:

    IED? Want to bet it was a few cannisters of smokeless powder? I predict that when all the press releases and dust settle, this guy is going to escape charges and then spend the next 2 years getting all his guns back from evidence.

  5. kaveman says:

    I say we call the FBI and ATF and have them search the home of some random Philly cop and see what they find.

  6. BobG says:

    I’m with Chris; what grounds did they use for a search warrant? Something is damn fishy about the case.

  7. BadIdeaGuy says:

    JimW, he’s not going to get his guns back from Upper Darby…

    but on the upside, if you’ve got a friend in the U/D police dept, maybe you can have a few of this guy’s guns!

    http://www.targetrichenvironment.net/?p=803
    (I would’ve linked to the Inquirer article but it seems to be unavailable)

  8. Sigivald says:

    and homemade cannons capable of firing.

    Well, if they’re muzzleloaders, they’re legal, at least under Federal law – don’t know if PA bans them; a search of the PA code online finds nothing vaguely relevant, but that proves little.

    I suspect that like most states, PA doesn’t bother to regulate muzzle-loading cannon, so there’s no crime there, not that the reporter would know.

  9. Sebastian says:

    Black powder and antique firearms are not regulated under PA state law.

  10. Sebastian says:

    Here’s another tidbit about getting your guns back, which is why it’s important to hire someone familiar with Pennsylvania’s gun laws if you ever get your gun sezied by the police, and are entitled to have it returned:

    Title 18, 6111.1 (b) (4)

    The Pennsylvania State Police and any local law enforcement agency shall make all reasonable efforts to determine the lawful owner of any firearm confiscated by the Pennsylvania State Police or any local law enforcement agency and return said firearm to its lawful owner if the owner is not otherwise prohibited from possessing the firearm. When a court of law has determined that the Pennsylvania State Police or any local law enforcement agency have failed to exercise the duty under this subsection, reasonable attorney fees shall be awarded to any lawful owner of said firearm who has sought judicial enforcement of this subsection.

    So you can sue them to get it back, and recover attorneys fees.

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