ByÂ Andrea Noble-The Washington Times
A bill that would decriminalize gun and ammunition possession charges for some legal firearms owners from outside the city caught traveling through the District with their weapons goes before aÂ D.C. Council committeeÂ Monday, a potential change to the law that comes too late for one Capitol Heights man.
The bill would allow the attorney generalâ€™s office to offer an â€œadministrative dispositionâ€ rather than criminally prosecute cases in which residents outside the District are found in the city with unregistered guns or ammunition.
â€œThese offenses would still be handled the same way by the [Metropolitan Police Department], and violators would still be subject to arrest,â€Â D.C. CouncilÂ ChairmanÂ Phil MendelsonÂ said when he introduced the legislation in July. â€œThis legislation is meant to deal with those cases where individuals may lawfully possess firearms or ammunition in their home states but who unknowingly transport their firearms or ammunition into the District without knowledge of the Districtâ€™s firearms laws.â€
Mr. Hogueâ€™s life was turned upside down when he was stopped in the District with a gun in his car and criminally charged. He has been in contact with theÂ Judiciary CommitteeÂ about his case but does not plan to testify at the hearing Monday.
Wrong side of the line
Mr. Hogue, 43, was a licensed special police officer in the District. The morning of March 28, 2011, he was driving his wife and a friend to theÂ KmartÂ in Hyattsville where his two passengers planned to apply for jobs, he said. Making the way from his Capitol Heights apartment,Â Mr. HogueÂ got lost, he said, and diverted briefly into the District before turning around and heading back into Prince Georgeâ€™s County. He was on Eastern Avenue, the dividing line between the District and Maryland, when aÂ U.S. Park PoliceÂ officer noticed the dark tint on his windows, according to court documents filed in his case.
The officer ranÂ Mr. Hogueâ€™s tags and found that the car registration was suspended â€” a result of failure to comply with a repair order issued on his car. TheÂ Park PoliceÂ officer, listed in D.C. Superior Court documents asÂ Jeffrey McKeever, wrote in his report that he sensedÂ Mr. HogueÂ was nervous, so he inquired further.
â€œI observed three thin blue line stickers on the vehicle, and could see that he had a security uniform covering the center console of the vehicle,â€ OfficerÂ McKeeverÂ wrote. â€œI asked him where his weapon was and he stated that his gun was in the rear trunk compartment of the vehicle. Once he admitted to the possession of the handgun, he was detained while additional police officers were called to the scene.â€
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