METHUEN, MA — A student of the University of Massachusetts has been arrested and charged with bearing arms in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For possessing some standard rifles and magazines in his home — and harming no one — this young man could face up to 10 years in prison. Proud of their work, local enforcers bragged about their seizure on Facebook.
Last week government agents raided the home of Jad Ali Mokad, a 24-year-old senior at UMass, who is less than 3 months from graduating with a finance degree. Mokad, who immigrated from Lebanon, made the mistake of settling in a police state like Massachusetts.
Local and federal agencies had been “tipped off” that Mokad’s father had phoned a gun store and asked some amateurish questions about gun ownership. Evidently, this tip was enough to search his home. According to the Eagle Tribune:
Authorities said they were tipped to the weapons cache when the student’s father called a gun store to ask how to modify an assault rilfe to fire a 30-round clip. They said the father also inquired about purchasing a silencer for the rifle.
These basic inquiries sound like they come from somebody new to gun ownership, and unfamiliar with onerous local laws. Most gun owners become curious about these things at some point in their life, and it is not illegal to ask questions. The answers are simple. First, no mechanical modifications are necessary for a rifle to accept a longer magazine. Secondly, silencers are legal in 40 states if you purchase a $200 permission slip from the federal government, called a NFA tax stamp. However, Massachusetts is one of the few restrictive states that does not allow civilians the benefit of quieting their firearms with silencers. There was no harm in asking. Nor is it a probable cause for a search.
The gun store that ratted on one of their customers was North Shore Firearms in Middleton, MA. The store clerk informed the caller that “items he was inquiring about were illegal” and called the police.
Hearing of the customer’s questions, authorities assembled a task force from the Department of Homeland Security, the BATFE, the FBI, and the Methuen Police Department. They evidently tracked the call back to the Mokad residence and performed a search of their home.
Jad Ali Mokad, who had complied with Massachusetts onerous gun licensing requirements, was still arrested. Massachusetts has passed enough infringements on gun ownership that just anyone can become a felon.
Police charged him with possessing two 30-round rifle magazines. While the state has ignorantly dubbed them a “high-capacity” magazines, this is the standard-capacity for magazines for that rifle, around the country and around the world.
The law is so muddled in Massachusetts that some 30-round magazines are legal and some are considered a felony. The defining difference is the date of manufacture. “Pre-ban” mags made before 9/13/1994 are legal, and “post-ban” mags made after 9/13/1994 get you prison time. It goes without saying that the government doesn’t make its agents obey these ridiculous restrictions that it imposes on the citizens. According to Massachusetts law:
Section 131M. No person shall sell, offer for sale, transfer or possess an assault weapon or a large capacity feeding device that was not otherwise lawfully possessed on September 13, 1994. Whoever not being licensed under the provisions of section 122 violates the provisions of this section shall be punished, for a first offense, by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and for a second offense, by a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $15,000 or by imprisonment for not less than five years nor more than 15 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
It is unclear how — or if — the Methuen police determined the manufacture date of Mokad’s magazines. Even if his magazines were made “post-ban”, the absurdity of locking people up for owning harmless pieces of metal should go without saying.
“He was licensed to carry the two rifles, but not the high-capacity magazines,” Chief Joseph Solomon said.
Methuen police also charged Mokad with keeping his gun(s) “unsecured.” In Massachusetts, the government micromanages what goes on inside your own home, and if you are firearm owner, your guns are expected to be locked up at all times or else they lock you in prison. Again, citing Massachusetts law:
Section 131L. (a) It shall be unlawful to store or keep any firearm, rifle or shotgun including, but not limited to, large capacity weapons, or machine gun in any place unless such weapon is secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user. For purposes of this section, such weapon shall not be deemed stored or kept if carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user.
The obnoxious nannyism of Massachusetts legislators in dictating how homeowners store their firearms is not just an inconvenience and a violation of their personal liberties. In practice, it hinders citizens from defending themselves if they are ever facing a home invader, and is liable to get them killed. If a homeowner hears a crash in the middle of the night, there will be no time for him to fumble with opening a safe or finding the key to open his trigger lock. It should remain up to the owner to decide what method of storage is best and safest for his own family.
Mokad was captured and charged with two ridiculous and petty victimless crimes under oppressive Massachusetts law. Let’s be clear, in the vast majority of the United States, these are not crimes at all. His property was seized, and his Massachusetts gun licenses were revoked. A judge ordered him held on $15,000 bail and to surrender his passport. If convicted, he faces up to ten years in prison.
Among the property seized was a legally-owned AK-47 WASR-10 rifle, a legally-owned M&P-15 rifle, alegally-owned Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum, three legally-owned low-capacity (<10-rd) magazines, and two standard-capacity (30-rd) magazines with unknown date of manufacturing (therefore with anunknown legal status).
The police will have to prove the magazines were manufactured after 9/13/1994 to prove that they were not “legal.” It is puzzling how they might accomplish this, since the vast majority of magazines are not stamped with any kind of date.
The property was photographed by the Methuen Police Department and uploaded to Facebook:
Methuen police were quite proud of their efforts at ruining this young man’s life.
“This investigation was an excellent example of local and federal law enforcement officers working together to make our community safer,” Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said on Facebook. He continued, “The agents, officers and detectives did an excellent job of following a tip and developing information through investigation to a rapid conclusion resulting in an arrest and seizure of weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
Following the department’s tacky self-aggrandizing Facebook post came an influx of outraged citizens to inform the department of their betrayal of the 2nd Amendment and the civil liberties they were supposed to be protecting. Hundreds of comments — overwhelmingly negative — flooded the thread. The department’s Facebook administrator assured the public that they do not view imprisoning people for owning magazines as a violation of the 2nd Amendment.