This is What Happens to a Disarmed Populace: They Get Tripped-Up By Gun Laws

Cohasset Police (courtesy

You’ve probably heard about the travails of one Shaneen Allen, the Philadelphia Mom who drove into New Jersey with a gun. When Garden State cops pulled her over for a traffic stop (DWB), she told them about her gat. They arrested her for illegal firearms possession. Allen was looking at three years behind bars – until NJ prosecutors decided that former NFL star Ray Rice didn’t need to go to jail for punching his fiancee unconscious in a hotel elevator (don’t ask). Ms. Allen should have known not to bring a gun into the Garden State “gun-free zone.” Anyway, her case highlights the problem of living in or near a disarmed populace: you get arrested for the stupidest sh*t. Case in point . . .

A 66-year-old man, who was helping his 94-year-old mother-in-law do some cleaning, turned in three 38-caliber pistols he found in the home last week. Two of the guns did not have serial numbers meaning they are fairly old, police said. The firearms likely belonged to the woman’s late husband. Police took possession of the guns and ammunition. The son-in-law let police know he was coming.

Yes gun guys and gals: there’s a lot of fail in there. .38 not 38. The lack of serial numbers doesn’t necessarily indicate age. Giving police guns to destroy isn’t the best possible end for any firearm. Anyway, the article hails from Massachusetts, a state lousy with gun control laws. And here’s the thing: the 66-year-old dutiful son could have been arrested for turning in the guns.

Police will accept unwanted firearms and have them destroyed. They ask that they be notified first rather than have someone just walk into the station with a firearm, police said. Police also warned that possession of a firearm without a license to carry a gun is a criminal offense.

In other words, if you’re carrying a gun to a Bay State police station without a concealed carry license, even if the cops tell you to come on down, you’re committing a felony. By the same token, even if you’re transporting a gun unloaded in a locked container (with the ammunition stored separately) on the back seat of your SUV in Massachusetts – rather than the furthest part of the vehicle away from the driver…boom! Felony.

I’m sure TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia living in so-called “slave states” can list plenty of stupid gun laws that seem carefully designed to do nothing more than trip-up Americans exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. No matter how you slice it, fewer gun control laws mean that fewer otherwise law-abiding people get caught-up – unnecessarily – in the criminal justice system.

An armed society is, at best, a legally armed society. In fact, I’m of the opinion that the “shall not be infringed” bit of the Second Amendment to the United State Constitution is a prohibition against ANY gun laws – sensible or not. Penalties for illegal use, yes. Gun control, no. But what do I know? I live in a state where openly carried handguns are illegal.


  1. avatar Bear The Grizzly says:

    I feel so safe.

    1. avatar styrgwillidar says:

      Since the gun laws are passed by folks with no familiarity with them, many actually are unsafe IMHO. For example-
      – The CA requirement for fixed magazines on many rifles (hence bullet buttons). If you make anything harder to do, folks are less likely to do it. It is far safer to unload/verify unloaded a weapon by dropping the mag then racking the slide. (Every gun range I’ve been to make you remove the ‘fixed’ magazine when the range is cold).

      – The loaded chamber indicator. Basic rule is always treat the firearm as loaded. Folks getting in the habit of looking at a mechanical device instead of physically checking the weapon clear are going to have one of two things happen eventually- 1. indicator fails showing unloaded when it isn’t. 2. Seeing what they expect to see due to complacency, vice really noting the chamber indication. It’s a mechanical device which encourages habits contrary to basic safety.

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        Just a couple days ago, on Nick’s .17 WSM review, a CA reader was angry at Nick’s abbreviated description of CA “assault weapon” laws and said “What the heck are you talking about? Both muzzle brakes and flash hiders are allowed on AR rifles here in CA.” ….well…. “a flash suppressor” is a specifically-listed feature that turns a rifle into an assault weapon in CA. Here is a very specific case of a specific person who could have accidently become a felon because he put a “flash hider” on an otherwise-legal rifle. Muzzle brake? Compensator? Sure, why not. “Flash hider”? Felon.

        From the penal code, an assault rifle is:

        A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:

        (A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
        (B) A thumbhole stock.
        (C) A folding or telescoping stock.
        (D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
        (E) A flash suppressor.
        (F) A forward pistol grip.

        1. avatar Bear The Grizzly says:

          I got in an argument with someone over capacity once. She said that too many bullets are dangerous and will make people shoot more in defense situations. She even suggested that’s why more innocent bystanders are hit during gang shootings. Of course her solution was the magic number 10. I let her squawk a little more before asking her if my lever gun that holds more than 10 rounds was dangerous. She got pissed about that. These people don’t know the law anymore than they know the guns they seek to control. It’s no different than my simple brain trying to come up with regulations for international trade. I’m tired of suburban housewives educating me on the dangers of my tools.

        2. avatar Slick says:

          Except the .17 wsm is rimfire and is exempt from the AWB.

          But, yes, a flash suppressor is part of the AWB. You can have one along with any other “evil” features as long as you have a bullet button on the AR/

        3. avatar Steve says:

          The flash suppressor doesn’t make it an “assault weapon” if it has a fixed magazine, via a bullet button. I didn’t see the review in question but if it’s for an AR, the pistol grip would already make it an “assault weapon” without said fixed magazine.

        4. avatar Jeremy S says:

          Yes there are hundreds of laws and hundreds of fun ways to comply with and basically circumvent them. Bullet buttons, featureless builds, OAL requirements, magazine capacity restrictions… it all goes to prove the point that confusion exists due to these laws being bottomless quagmires of nonsensical BS and that it’s so difficult to actually follow all of them that it 1) discourages many people from even attempting firearms ownership in the first place due to fear of accidently running afoul of some asinine regulation and 2) serves to make a criminal out of anyone.

          “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” — Lavrentiy Beria (‘sidekick’ of Stalin)

          ^^^ meaning the government owns you and can destroy you. Get on the bad side of someone in power and the laws are so impossible to follow that they’re going to be able to pin something on absolutely anyone. Even if it doesn’t stick, it will bankrupt most people just defending against it. Reputation, money, and/or freedom destroyed by having so many laws that everybody commits felonies every day without even realizing it.

  2. avatar Scrubula says:

    It would be cool to have a list of ridiculous gun laws affecting law abiding citizens per state, to have some form of an argument as to why gun control is not an ‘open discussion’.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      It wouldn’t be a list so much as an encyclopedia. And that’s just for CA.

  3. avatar FrankM says:

    You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to simply change my address with the NYPD’s pistol license office.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      That’s something I bet quite a few folks here would like to hear about. Write it up and submit it to:

      [email protected]

  4. avatar James R says:

    NJ has their hollow point restrictions because some dingbat (or a room full of them) didn’t know the difference between hollow point and armor piercing.

    Also there is no legal way for me to bring my handgun (regardless of type) from PA to NY to hunt or target shoot on my fathers property.

    1. avatar Fred says:

      Not true at all. FOPA (Firearms Owners Protection Act) protects you from interstate transport as long as the firearm is legal in the state you are originating from and the state you are traveling you are good to go as long as you follow the rules to transport. Here is the breakdown on the NRA website…


      A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.

      Under FOPA, notwithstanding any state or local law, a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it, if the firearm is unloaded and locked out of reach. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Ammunition that is either locked out of reach in the trunk or in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console is also covered.

      Travelers should be aware that some state and local governments treat this federal provision as an “affirmative defense” that may only be raised after an arrest. All travelers in areas with restrictive laws would be well advised to have copies of any applicable firearm licenses or permits, as well as copies or printouts from the relevant jurisdictions’ official publications or websites documenting pertinent provisions of law (including FOPA itself) or reciprocity information. In the event of an unexpected or extended delay, travelers should make every effort not to handle any luggage containing firearms unnecessarily and to secure it in a location where they do not have ready access to it.

      And again on the NJ State police website restating the federal law…

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        That ‘affirmative defense’ part is a bitch, though.

        1. avatar Fred says:

          Forget the whole “FOPA”. The whole premise of the comment above is that he’s not allowed to bring any of his handguns from PA to NY which is completely untrue. I grew up in NJ and currently live in PA and familiar with laws in both states. NY has stricter gun control laws then NJ and magazine restrictions so I’d like to know what firearm he is trying to bring to NY that is illegal in NJ in the first place?

      2. avatar JayK says:

        What he’s referring to is that in NYS you MUST have a NYS Pistol Permit to carry/use/possess/pick up and look at a handgun in NYS. They recognize NO out of state permits. If you don’t have a NYS Pistol Permit, it doesn’t matter what FOPA says, you cannot bring your handgun to NYS in order to hunt or target shoot, on your own property or otherwise. FOPA will protect you if traveling THROUGH NYS, but not to stop and target shoot IN NYS.

        1. avatar Anon in CT says:

          Look up how affirmative defenses work. Not where you want to be.

          It sucks, because I have a friend in PA that I like to go shooting with – but I would only take NYS legal long-arms across that state.

  5. avatar Jeff says:

    “By the same token, even if you’re transporting a gun unloaded in a locked container (with the ammunition stored separately) on the back seat of your SUV in Massachusetts – rather than the furthest part of the vehicle away from the driver…boom! Felony.”

    As an MA subject, I’m fairly certain this is inaccurate. If it is stored in a locked container it does not matter where it is in your vehicle.

    1. avatar Patrick Rogalin says:


    2. avatar Matt F says:

      As a former subject of the Glorious People’s Republic of Massachusetts, I have been told by LEOs in that state that it needs to be locked up, but that it also needs to be out of your reach. Generally speaking, it’s best to leave it in the trunk as anything else could be a murky legal area (you know, because Mass gun laws are very specific and don’t have any ambiguity whatsoever).

    3. avatar John Galt says:

      According to Massachusetts General Laws:

      “The provisions of this section shall not apply to the following exempted persons and uses:

      (c) To a person voluntarily surrendering a firearm, rifle or shotgun and ammunition therefor to a licensing authority, the colonel of the state police or his designee if prior written notice has been given by said person to the licensing authority or the colonel of the state police, stating the place and approximate time of said surrender;”


      I wonder if sending the “colonel of the state police or his designee” a text message or email counts as written notice.

  6. avatar Paul B says:

    I say give then their own country.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      They are slowly going that way. As MA residents have moved out to ME, NH, VT and CT they have slowly bringing their politics with them too. The NY, MA, NJ & CA liberal caliphate is coming.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      I say give em San Francisco and NYC. Have the most gun laws, be illegal friendly, taxes through the roof, no voter ID, and have bureaucrats control every single aspect of life. Make it a liberal progressive wet dream. Just wall it off so the cancer is contained.

      1. avatar Nick D says:

        I think I saw a movie like that once. Except it was LA, not SanFran. Apparently it worked out well for everybody who didn’t live there, and being sent there was a form of punishment.

  7. avatar KingSarc48265 says:

    I would love to see a state suddenly decide to stop honoring a neighboring state’s driver’s license. Then start impounding vehicles and arresting drivers at the border. Unfortunatly, the irony of the sh!t storm that would follow would be lost on most people.

    1. avatar Misnomer says:

      But driving/cars are a natural, civil, and constitutionally protected right in this country, so they get protections beyond the privileges of firearms … no wait…

      1. avatar LordeCarbon says:

        I see what you did there, and I approve.

  8. avatar Pascal says:

    Another fine example that gun laws are less to do with getting criminals off the street and away from guns but rather simply a social means of forcing behavior that the government is your church and religion and you must do what its priests command.

  9. avatar Drm says:

    This site is damn near unusable on iOS. I’ve never been redirected to download some chintzy app so often.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      We’re on it. Sorry.

      1. avatar Anonymous says:

        I’ve also been getting some google video update nonsense that I get redirected to when at TTAG. I only get the popup when visiting TTAG.

  10. avatar Stompy says:

    ” Everything is illegal in Massachusetts” – Ray Winstone in Edge of Darkness

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:


    2. avatar John Galt says:

      For example, it’s illegal in Massachusetts to do the following unless you are actually WEARING a life jacket:

      * canoe or kayak between Sep 15 and May 15
      * waterski
      * operate a personal watercraft

      Massachusetts Boating Law Summary

      Note too that Massachusetts has an Environmental Police force.

    3. avatar John Galt says:

      Human silhouette targets are also illegal for any shooting clubs that have been granted a Massachusetts Class A license.

      “Such club shall not permit shooting at targets that depict human figures, human effigies, human silhouettes or any human images thereof, except by public safety personnel performing in line with their official duties.”

      General Laws, Part I, Title XX, Chapter 140, Section 131 Licenses to carry firearms; Class A and B; conditions and restrictions

      1. avatar John Galt says:

        So even if you are a police officer, you can’t shoot at human-shaped targets while you are off duty.

    4. avatar John Galt says:

      For some reason pavement, good intentions and the “road to hell” comes to mind.

      In Concord, Massachusetts, it’s illegal to sell or distribute non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less.

      Concord Town Meeting passes bylaw banning bottled water sales

    5. avatar John Galt says:

      Without a firearm owner ID (FOID) card, it’s illegal in Massachusetts to possess an empty case, primers, bullets or powder.

      So, if you’re hiking in the woods and pick up a spent shotgun shell or rifle brass…up to two years in jail.


      General Laws, Part I, Title XX, Chapter 140, Section 121 Firearms sales; definitions; antique firearms; application of law; exception

      Ammunition is defined as: “cartridges or cartridge cases, primers (igniter), bullets or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm, rifle or shotgun.”


      General Laws, Part I, Title XX, Chapter 140, Section 129C Application of Sec. 129B; ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition; transfers; report to commissioner; exemptions; exhibiting license to carry, etc. on demand

      “Section 129C. No person, other than a licensed dealer or one who has been issued a license to carry a pistol or revolver or an exempt person as hereinafter described, shall own or possess any firearm, rifle, shotgun or ammunition unless he has been issued a firearm identification card by the licensing authority pursuant to the provisions of section one hundred and twenty-nine B.”


      General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 269, Section 10 Carrying dangerous weapons; possession of machine gun or sawed-off shotguns; possession of large capacity weapon or large capacity feeding device; punishment

      “(h)(1) Whoever owns, possesses or transfers a firearm, rifle, shotgun or ammunition without complying with the provisions of section 129C of chapter 140 shall be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2 years or by a fine of not more than $500.”

  11. avatar Anonymous says:

    Where’s Ralph. This is his beloved state.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Beloved? Hardly. But I’ve learned how to use the system. I shouldn’t have to do that, but I do.

      1. avatar Rad Man says:

        Cohasset is a high rent South Shore enclave and this story surprises me not at all. I too have learned to navigate the murky waters of gun ownership in the Commonwealth – and it’s a pain in the keister.

        1. avatar John Galt says:

          High rent tends to equate with high strung. Reminds me of:

          OMG! Pizza-Eating Feds! With Guns! In Our Neighborhood! OMG!

          “One resident tried to justify his neighbors’ discomfort at all the hubbub and chalks it all up to their high strung personalities.

          George Hill also lives nearby, and doesn’t mind the officers. “Very intelligent and articulate and expressive people live in neighborhoods like ours, and I think sometimes they over-articulate and over-express,” he says.

  12. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    It’s so much easier(for the police) to take guns from law abiding citizens, than it is to take them from criminals. The law abiding are just the lowest hanging fruit.

  13. avatar Rokurota says:

    Brian Aitken

  14. avatar George says:

    Under Mr. Bloomberg’s I-594 here in Washington, taking the first gun to the police is a misdemeanor, the second and third are felonies. Picking them up is a “transfer” and needs an FFL, pay a 9% Use Fee (that’s something other than a tax, you know), wait 5-10 days.

    Know any FFL’s that make house calls?

  15. avatar Morgan Y. says:

    “I’m sure TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia living in so-called “slave states” can list plenty of stupid gun laws that seem carefully designed to do nothing more than trip-up Americans exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.”

    Thus the phrase “law-abiding criminal” applies…

    1. avatar Jay-El says:

      In MDA’s view, there’s virtually no difference. One of their primary talking points is “Another law-abiding gun owner” (sarcastic reference to a criminal use of a firearm). A similar one is “He was a law-abiding gun owner right up until he wasn’t.” Another example is “At 12:03 p.m., Joe Blow took his legally owned semiautomati-high-capaci-clip* assault weapon to the Anytown Mall and methodically shot six innocent people. Right up until the moment he pulled the trigger, he had not broken a single law.”**

      Clearly, there’s an agenda at work to delegitimize lawful uses of guns and law-abiding gun owners. These messages are simply a means to that end — MDA is, after all, a PR campaign, and everything they do is almost certainly carefully scripted to achieve a specific outcome.

      * OK, I made that one up. But it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine hearing it coming from any of MDA’s 2 million hysterical supporters.***
      ** As if more layers of laws would have made any difference to the nut job in question.
      *** OK, MDA made that number up.

  16. avatar Mediocrates says:

    well, you know… we have to keep all of those government employees, judges, and lawyers dutifully employed. I no longer live in “one nation, under God”.

  17. avatar IdahoPete says:

    “No matter how you slice it, fewer gun control laws mean that fewer otherwise law-abiding people get caught-up – unnecessarily – in the criminal justice system.”

    That is the whole point – to criminalize any behavior that indicates you are a citizen rather than a subject. The state has much firmer control over its subjects when most of their behavior can be made criminal.

  18. avatar Javenis Mydaus says:

    It’s sad to hear that 3 good possibly antique guns were turned into the police for probable destruction :'(

    1. avatar John Galt says:

      If a group of liberty-minded individuals dressed up as Indians today and threw tea into Boston Harbor, they be charged with civil rights crime by the Massachusetts Office of Human Rights and pollution by the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

      They’d get 10-15 years, a whopping fine and no probation.

  19. avatar Culpeper Kid says:

    Gun ownership is a civil right. Period. How much longer will the People of the United States tolerate official government abrogation of civil rights? This is a civil rights issue and must be treated as such. Those who oppose and restrict the civil rights of the People must be identified and brought to justice. Violations of civil rights, especially by government officials, must be abolished.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      They will tolerate it as long as there are ignorant, easily manipulated voters that follow unprincipled egomaniacs or loudmouthed Keyboard Kommandos..

  20. avatar Ralph says:

    It’s illegal to bring a gun into a cop shop in MA even for people who are licensed to carry. Which is another reason why anyone who might want to turn in a gun to the po-po in MA must call first. Once the police invite him in with the gun(s) that he wants to turn in, prosecution for carrying said gun(s) into a police station is impossible.

    1. avatar Michael in GA says:

      So in MA, cops treat gun owners like vampires.

  21. avatar Andy says:

    The taller cop in the picture looks a lot like the late John Candy , as for Massachusetts gun laws they suck , won’t go there or spend any money there by person or ordering anything from any merchant there , they got what they voted for , and a lot of it is because of the union influence there , unions were infiltrated a long time ago by leftists and took control of the unions . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  22. avatar Neil D says:

    So, if you wanted to carry a gun in a vehicle legally in MA what would you do? Take it apart with the upper in the trunk and the lower in your glovebox? Seems like technically it is no longer a weapon at that point until it is put back together. Pure craziness that needs legislation for the laws to be fixed. Maybe a job for the NRA and the folks in MA that would like to see laws like this changed. Seems like the best idea until then is to stay the hell away from states like this with draconian gun laws.

  23. avatar Neil D says:

    Rad Man: “Cohasset is a high rent South Shore enclave and this story surprises me not at all. I too have learned to navigate the murky waters of gun ownership in the Commonwealth – and it’s a pain in the keister.” The real solution is to change the laws or move to another state that does not have these idiotic laws. How about Florida? Warmer there anyway.

  24. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    That headline is a bit of an oxymoron, I mean how can someone that is truly disarmed get tripped up by gun laws?

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