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Government dismisses charge against gun owner

Article Source, July 2nd, 2009
By David Codrea


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The government has thrown in the towel in its prosecution of Albert Kwok-Leung Kwan for possession of a short barreled rifle. A June 25 order dismisses the indictment against him "based on the government's motion."

It's been a convoluted case. The feds have been trying to pin something on the guy for years, because he acted to preserve his own legal interests instead of assisting the government with theirs. From the blog "Crime, Guns and Videotape", written by a former Chicago policeman:

[The FBI] really fixed Kwan for his refusal. They obtained a search warrant, kicked his door down and seized every firearm in his home. Kwan legally owned 100 machine guns along with some run of the mill semi-automatic firearms. The Agents took one of Kwan's rifles, a...semi-automatic M-14 copy, remanufactured the receiver, and installed new parts turning it to a machine gun! Since that [rifle] was not registered as a machine gun the agents charged Kwan for the federal felony under the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Per the United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle:

The jury found defendant not guilty of Count I, which charged him with unlawful possession of a machinegun, namely a...M-14 rifle. As a result of the jury verdict, Count I was dismissed.

But the feds weren't done with Kwan.

[He] possessed two pistols and two shoulder stocks. One pistol, a Heckler & Koch VP70M, is capable of firing a three-round burst and therefore falls within the legal definition of a "machinegun.”

The other pistol, a Heckler & Koch VP70Z,1 is a semi-automatic, single-shot weapon, which alone does not constitute a firearm requiring registration...

Here's where it gets really illustrative of the lengths the government will go to destroy the life of a gun owner who will not bend to their will:

The two shoulder stocks are interchangeable and can be attached to either pistol. The stocks can also be used as a holster for either pistol. To enable the VP70M to fire three-round bursts, the shoulder stock must be attached; absent the stock, the VP70M will not operate in fully automatic (machinegun) mode. When combined with the VP70Z, however, the shoulder stock will not alter the firing mode, but the resulting weapon will constitute a single-shot rifle having a barrel of less than 16 inches in length, and will therefore qualify as a firearm requiring registration...

Even though the stock was not attached to the VP70Z, the government charged Kwan with having a short-barrel rifle and the jury found him guilty--after a proposed defense instruction to them was conveniently not allowed:

The Court rejected defendant’s proposed instruction, which would have added as a fourth element that “the defendant assembled the VP70Z into a short-barrel rifle.”

Because of this, on August 15, 2007, the District Court "GRANTED defendant’s motion for a new trial."

You can read the order for yourself: 11 page PDF file.

So where does this leave us? After years of harassment, including holding him for 23 days, confiscating his property, ordering him not to possess firearms, forcing him to surrender his passport and to post a $250,000 bond, and spending -- exactly how much in legal costs for both sides?--the government simply files a motion to dismiss the indictment?

And that's supposed to be it?

Will anyone be accountable to explain to us just what the hell happened here? Based on the apparent absence of any reporting on this dismissal by "Authorized Journalists" -- who were more than happy to paint Kwan as some kind of domestic terrorist back when he was having his life ripped apart -- I'd have to conclude that's not bloody likely.

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Related items -

Early case comments by Len Savage.
Len Savage Evidence File

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