Tyrone Watson, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was pulled over by Norwalk police for driving with an "illegal" cover over his license plate. During the stop, the officer noticed a pistol permit in Watson's wallet and asked him if he had a gun with him. He said yes, and produced the perfectly legal pistol—except that it had an evil unregistered 15-round magazine (which would have been just fine if the paperwork had been filed before the turn of the year). That's how Tyrone Watson became one of the first people cited under his state's bizarre, new gun laws.
Under Connecticut law, "Nothing may be affixed to a motor vehicle or to the official number plates displayed on such vehicle that obscures or impairs the visibility of any information on such number plates."
That's a little open-ended, leaving drivers at risk if they so much as bolt their plates in place with one of those dealer-supplied frames that obscure a bit of the inspection sticker.
Also under Connecticut law, "Any person who possesses a large capacity magazine on or after January 1, 2014, that was obtained prior to the effective date of this section shall commit an infraction and be fined not more than ninety dollars for a first offense and shall be guilty of a class D felony for any subsequent offense," unless that magazine was registered prior to January 1 of this year—a bureaucratic ritual that apparently strips the object of bad juju.
But, according to the Daily Voice:
The handgun was loaded with 11 bullets, and had a magazine capable of handling 15 rounds, police said. Under the new laws passed by the state last April, it is illegal to buy, sell or manufacture magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds.
Weapons purchased before the law's passing are legally grandfathered in, but gun owners were required to register those magazines with the state by Jan. 1. The gun owner told Norwalk officers that he was unaware of the law or the deadline, according to the police report.
As a result, continues the report, Watson was "issued an infraction for possession of a large-capacity magazine and having a mutilated license plate."
The Hour, which claims Watson was actually pulled over for tailgating, says, "The officer wrote Watson a summons and gave him back his gun and the magazine, telling him to store the items in his trunk until he arrived at his home, according to police."
With regard to tailgating, by the way, Connecticut law says, "No driver of a motor vehicle shall follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent." Well, that certainly clears things up.
So here we have a Connecticut resident ensnared by one petty law that's completely open to interpretation by officials (illegal plate cover or tailgating—take your pick), which leaves him open to citation for violating another petty law, which is an entirely arbitrary paperwork requirement.
In this case, Tyrone Watson is on the hook for a relatively small penalty—but he's in the system now, and at risk of bigger hits in the future, despite having harmed nobody, in any way.
And so we find our world regulated just one step closer to perfection—for control freaks and lawyers.
Don't miss Brian Doherty's take on how enforcement of petty laws especially victimizes the poor, who are least able to navigate the legal system and shoulder even small penalties.