In a logical and just society laws would be designed to punish bad actions, not try to predict the future and punish people for merely having scary looking objects that might possibly be used in the commission of a crime. The first time I was exposed to malum prohibitum laws was when I started picking locks in my spare time and found that lock picks were deemed similarly evil and dangerous tools that lawmakers decided to ban (rather than simply prosecuting burglaries). Last year Colorado passed a law making the mere possession of a “high capacity” magazine a crime, and now we’ve seen the first arrest of someone under that statute . . .
From The Coloradoan:
The man accused of threatening to burn down a college campus building in Fort Collins has been charged with illegal possession of a high-capacity magazine, marking the first time the charge has been filed in Northern Colorado since controversial legislation was signed into law more than two years ago.
The Larimer County District Attorney filed the charge last week against 29-year-old David Moscow, who was arrested after a psychologist reported him to police and said he was making threats about shooting a security guard and burning down a building at Front Range Community College if administrators didn’t re-enroll him, arrest documents show.
I’m not entirely unhappy that this guy is off the streets. Threatening to shoot people and burn down buildings if you don’t get re-enrolled at college isn’t something that we want to promote and it’s probably best if he gets some professional help before being released back into the wild. That said, they could have had the exact same impact on this person’s life without tacking on the “high capacity” magazine charge. This is the perfect example of a feel-good gun control law simply making already illegal actions just slightly more illegal-er: he was already being arrested for other crimes, the magazine charge wasn’t required for his arrest and will only make his life worse.
What makes this slightly more interesting to watch is the grandfather clause issue. Magazines manufactured and possessed prior to July 1st 2013 are 100% legal, which means in order to make their case the prosecution will need to establish precisely when the magazine was purchased and whether the individual charged bought it more recently. Exactly how they go about doing that will give us an idea of how they plan on prosecuting others in the future.