Barnyard BBS

…enemies becoming friends,
…when bitterness ends
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Delaware Conceal and Carry Laws
2/16/2008 5:42:00 PM

I'm in the middle applying for my Delaware Conceal and Carry License (concealed firearms license).  Since laws regarding concealed weapons can vary wildly between states, I wanted to do my homework before actually starting to carry.

I got a lot of conflicting information from many sources.  A particular point of concern was the "School Zone" question.  I had been told by several people (including my CCW instructor) that you were forbidden to carry a concealed weapon within 1000 feet of a school or college.  Needless to say, this concerned me quite a bit.  I live within 1000 feet of a school. I also work within 1000 feet of a school.  This "law" could put a severe cramp in my right to carry.

I started researching.  I am not a lawyer.  This does not constitute legal advice.

Here's what I've found:

  • There's a federal law, called the Gun Free School Zone Act of 1990.  It has important exceptions built into it.  It does not apply to private property within the "radius".  Additionally, it provides a special exception for anyone with a "state issued permit".  This means that Delaware CCW holders are except.  This becomes important later.
  • There is a Delaware law, Possession of a weapon in a Safe School and Recreation Zone.  This law doesn't really introduce any new restrictions.  It just "amps up" the severity of the punishment, should you be convicted of another crime while on school grounds.  For example, the regular charge of Carrying a concealed deadly weapon "upgrades" from a class G felony to a class E felony.

My analysis:

If you have a Delaware (or Delaware-recognized) CCW permit, you can carry within the 1000 foot perimeter.  In fact, if you happen to be a college student (that happens to be of age to acquire a CCW) you could even legally carry on campus.  Furthermore, from my reading of the law, a teacher could legally carry while at work.

However:

Just because these are established as legal, that doesn't mean that it's permissible by the entity in question.  For example, the University of Delaware has a policy against weapons.  Legally speaking, they can expel / fire you.  That's their call.  It's their house and their rules.  However, that's a private matter.  It's not a crime.

The same is true of the teacher's example.  The hypothetical teacher could be fired for breaking policy, but not arrested.

Remember, this is a strict legal interpretation.  There are lots of "dumb" situations that you could cause, if you aren't careful.  Even with a CCW permit, you can't brandish your weapon.  Intimidation is still legally menacing.  Keep it legal; keep it concealed.

Final thoughts:

This isn't just my interpretation.  I've had two other individuals review my research.  Both of them agreed with my interpretation.  Both also commented on "keeping it out of sight", in order to avoid a menacing charge.

Both have requested that I not publish their names, as they don't want any liability pointed in their direction.  That's probably wise on their part.  Regardless, if either of you two are reading this: thanks for your help.

For that matter, I don't want any liability in my direction either.  This isn't legal advice, just my opinion on the law as it is written. 

If you would like more information about conceal and carry laws (in relation to colleges / universities), I recommend you check out Concealed Campus.  Concealed Campus is anon-profit "student's right to carry" advocacy group.

I hope this helps.

New Castle County Jury Duty 2008: Time Served
1/17/2008 8:49:00 AM

My recent experience with jury duty in New Castle County has come to a close.  Although I didn't get a chance to do very much, I learned a lot about the process.  For those of you living in New Castle County, Delaware, here is an overview of the jury duty process:

  • You receive a sternly-worded notice in the mail.  This notice contains a demand that you report and a questionnaire about your background.
  • Next, you are expected to reply with the questionnaire.  Optionally, you are able to cite reasons why you are unable to attend.
  • If you elected to cite reasons for being unable to attend, you should expect a strongly-worded "REQUEST DENIED" postcard to arrive in about 7 days.  The county makes it very clear that they place no value on your time whatsoever; and that "they" get to call the shots.
  • On the day of your service, you report to the courthouse.  Generally, you are to report at 8:30 AM.  I'd recommend arriving at the parking garage around 8:00 AM.  Expect traffic, as it's in the center of the city.
  • Expect to go through the intrusive "security" screening.  Remember to leave you cell phone in the car.  Additionally, the court prohibits PDA's, iPods, and nearly anything electronic that isn't a laptop.
  • Next, you will check in at "Suite 1800", the jury duty "holding tank".  It's a big room which seats at least 300 people.
  • Shortly after check-in, you'll be shown a movie about how lucky you were to be chosen.
  • Now you wait.  I hope you remembered to bring a book (or perhaps a laptop).  No internet access is available for laptops, but there are a few heavily-restricted web terminals in the side room.  There are five of them.  You may have trouble securing one.  Note:  This room also contains more comfortable chairs than anywhere else in the courthouse.
  • It's possible that you may be called to audition for a jury, but the odds aren't very good.  In our group of about 200, only about 40 were called to even audition.  Most of us just sat around until the trials concluded.

I apologize if I sound critical of the experience.  Truthfully, I have no objections to serving on a jury.  However, I do have objections to how the process is administered.  It seems very silly to me that of 32 scheduled jury cases on 01/16/2008, only a single case required a jury.  This could easily have been settled without requiring 200 people to lose a day of work.  Additionally, the court really needs to learn some manners.  I would have been in a much more favorable mood, had I not been treated like a criminal at every step.

Regardless, I'm off the hook for at least two years.  Behold my glorious certificate:

JuryDutyCertificate.jpg

Circuit City Receipt Nazis / Michael Righi
9/5/2007 7:15:00 PM

As some of you might know, receipt nazis are one of my biggest pet peeves.  For those of you not familiar with receipt nazis, let me offer a definition:

Receipt Nazi:  Noun.  The goon who demands to inspect your receipt as you leave a store.

Most people don't know their rights.  Most people don't know the law.  Here's the deal, specific to Delaware, but widely applicable all over the nation:

It is acceptable for a store to ask to see your receipt.  It's also acceptable for a random stranger to ask you for money.  Both are acceptable, provided the process is totally voluntary.  It's your choice.  You choose if you want to humor the store's policy.  Just because a policy is printed on a piece of cardboard, it doesn't mean that it has the force of law.  I usually just say "No, thank you." and continue walking.

Most people don't know that they can simply refuse, and be on their way.  Often times, a receipt nazi will attempt intimidation.  I've had situations myself where I was told that "you're not leaving until I see your receipt".  Regardless of what anyone's manager has told them, this is completely unenforceable.  In my situation, I simply told the fellow "Call the police, if you saw me steal something.  If not, get out of my way, or I'll be the one calling them."  In my case, the goon backed down.  I'm one of the few people who actually reads the state laws, so I know my rights.  Sadly, most people allow these abuses.

However, this post isn't about my case.  It's about a fellow named Michael Righi.  Michael had a similar encounter to mine, but his encounter ended in a much less favorable way.  Oddly enough, both of our encounters happened at a Circuit City.

Michael has posted a complete writeup on his website.  You can read the whole story here.

Here's my short version:

  • Michael was stopped, and was requested to produce his receipt.
  • Michael refuses to produce his receipt, which he was completely within his rights to do.
  • Store employees prevent Michael from leaving, by blocking his path.
  • Michael summons the police, as he is being illegally detained.
  • The police officer (Ernie Arroyo) determines that Michael has not stolen anything.
  • The police officer demands Micheal's identification (the actual driver's license card).
  • Michael refuses, as he is not required to provide his driver's license, as he wasn't driving.
  • The police officer arrests Michael, and charges him with "Obstructing Official Business" (Ohio Law)

I've done the research, as this happens to be one of my interests.  Here's my analysis on the incident:

  • Michael stood up for his rights.
  • Michael violated no laws.  He acted in a respectful manner, and did not escalate any of the situations.
  • The Circuit City employees were quite incorrect in their assumptions about the law.
  • The police officer was clearly on a power-trip, and wanted to charge Micheal with something.
  • These abuses shouldn't be tolerated.  Michael is a patriot, and he defended his rights.  Most people take their rights for granted, and don't stand up for them.  Michael should be commended.
  • Hopefully, Michael will be quickly vindicated in court.  The officer should be fired.
  • Hopefully the resulting civil lawsuit will end this obnoxious policy at all retailers.  Hopefully Circuit City will be spanked soundly enough to teach the whole industry a lesson.

I've already contacted Michael.  I've offered to travel to Ohio, to observe the trial, and ensure he received equitable treatment.  I haven't gotten a response yet, but that's not surprising.  I'm sure he's swimming in correspondence at the moment.  I wished him the best, and offered any help that I can provide.

Officer Arroyo: You are clearly incompetent and malicious.  I hope you become an example to all the police who abuse their position.

Update, 09/06/2007:

I've gotten a reply from Michael Righi himself.  He's pretty busy at the moment, so I'm pretty impressed that he made the time for me.  With his permission, I'm reposting his reply...

Benji,

Thanks for contacting me, and thanks for the well worded post on your blog. I wish that everybody's messages to me were as supportive as ours. :-)

It's a shame that more people don't know or stand up for their rights as you have done before. I commend you for not so easily giving in.

I'm committed to seeing this issue resolved justly, and once my attorney advises me that it's okay to speak I'll be providing more updates on my web site.

Take care,
Michael

Barnyard News
11/20/2006 6:51:00 PM
I've recently made a new addition to the site. I realized that I've been lax in my following of legislative process here in Delaware; so I built something for my own selfish convenience. It's an aggregator of proposed, pending, and approved legislation in the state. Maybe I'll be able to prevent the next obnoxious bill from sneaking into law without any announcement.

Check it out:

http://www.barnyardbbs.com/Projects/Delcode/
News
8/4/2005 2:15:00 PM
Outmaneuvered!

In short, I just lost my seatbelt ticket case.  That's a shame.

If you've read the previous posts; you know that I argued that the law I was charged with only applied to adults (over the age of 16).  Since my passenger was never identified; I could not be guilty of the offense.

Unfortunately, the state had a surprise for me.  I was *not* charged with a crime.  I was charged with a *violation*.  A violation is not a criminal offense; only civil.  That is deadly important.

With a civil matter, only 51% proof is required for a guilty verdict.  Only "more likely than not" will achieve a guilty verdict.  That's just what happened.

Based on the evidence, the judge said that I would beat a criminal conviction any day of the week.  Unfortunately, for me, this was a civil matter.  Since it was more likely than not that my passenger did not wear a seatbelt; and it was more-likely-than-not that he was an adult; I ended up having to pay the fine.

Actually, losing has not upset me all that much; as they outmaneuvered me.

Not to mention that I wasted enough of the state's time that they couldn't have made a profit on my ticket...
News
8/3/2005 8:55:00 AM

So, what's the news this week?

Tomorrow, I fight the evil traffic mongers to keep my $$$.  JP Court #13, 2:00 PM.  Game On.

The photographer has posted a gallery of all our wedding pictures.  I have included some of them into the BarnyardBBS album; but the whole set (nearly 500) can be seen on his site.

I covered the VideoHouseLive event for WMPH.  Take a look at wmph.org to see what happened.

Followup
7/11/2005 2:55:00 PM
Well, I suppose you are curious as to the outcome of my court battle with the state...

I didn't win.  I also didn't lose.  Apparently, Delaware finds it necessary to actually have an arraignment for a seatbelt ticket!  I actually went to court just so that I could formally plead "not responsible" ("not guilty" is only used for actual crimes).

My "real" hearing will be on August 6th.  Updates to follow.
Rants
6/28/2005 2:20:00 PM
Well, it appears that our basic rights and liberties are under assault once again.  Doesn't it seem like our rights are ALWAYS under assault lately?  Between the PATRIOT Act and this little gem; we're really going down the tubes quickly.



Here's a quick summary:

The Supreme Count has just ruled that Emiment Domain can be used to seize property for business purposes, rather than just for civic purposes as has historically been the case.

What does this mean to you?  It means that your property (as in real-estate) can be taken from you, even if you do not wish to sell.  Read the article, it's important.

There is one small consolation... A few states still respect the rights of an individual, and have passed state-level laws that help prohibit such abuses.  Washington, Montana, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Maine, South Carolina and Florida are the good ones.

Update: This is amazingly sweet!  A developer is going after land owned by Justice David Souter under the Eminent Domain clause.  He wants to build a museum about the loss of freedom.  Read about it here.

Rants
6/15/2005 12:15:00 PM

For those of you who follow my happenings, I finally got a date to fight my "revenue enhancement" (seatbelt) ticket

July 6th, 2:00 PM

I'll be there.  Delaware law in hand.

Rants
5/19/2005 12:50:00 PM

Well, guess what happened yesterday?

I got a traffic ticket.  I haven't gotten one of those in years.  And for the most remarkable and un-American reason that comes to mind.  For a seat belt!  And it wasn't even mine!

Guess what everybody... The imperial state of Delaware has decided to save us from ourselves.  We must all wear seat belts, or the mighty police will swoop down and deprive us of our cash.  Thank God the government is there to protect us.  Thank God that they saved me from my passenger not wearing a seat belt.  What's more, they were kind enough to give me a ticket for $40, to help me remember.

Bastards.

Personally, I think this is one of the silliest laws that I have seen in quite some time.  How does a person's failure to wear a seat belt endanger anyone other than them self?

Also, why do the police have time to stop people for this offence?  As far as I know, there are still real crimes being committed somewhere in the state.  I'm fairly certain of it.


I've looked into the state laws.  Here's the lowdown:

Delaware Code, Title 21, Chapter 48, Paragraph 4802, Sentence 2:

The driver of a motor vehicle shall secure or cause to be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt system, as defined by the applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards, each occupant of the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle who is 16 years of age or older.


So, I've got only one option now.  That's to fight the ticket.  Is there really any question?  Of course I'm going to fight it!  I'm going to get my $40 worth out of this state..  Here is how I intend to win...

Notice that the law requires passengers over 16 years of age to wear a seat belt.  My passenger was never asked for identification.  His age was never considered.

Although small children are required to be in safety seats; there is no specific requirement for persons that are between 12 and 16 years old.  Without verification of age, there is reasonable doubt to the age of my passenger.

Now.... It's time to go into court, and keep my damned $40.  Hell yeah!

Oh, yeah.  Here's the ticket in question: