NRA member, NRA attorney wage successful court fight
Shortly after 10 p.m. one night last winter, NRA Life Member Larry Dever stopped by his Alexandria, Va., gas station to collect the day’s cash receipts. He noticed a couple in a car parked on the side of his lot, screaming obscenities at each other. They were still there when he exited the station with $3,000 in his pocket.
When Dever told the driver to leave his property, the man instead opened the car door. “It dawned on me that this might be a set-up for a robbery,” said Dever, who was carrying a pistol in his hip pocket and his Right-to-Carry permit in his wallet. “I reached around, got my pistol out-I didn’t point it at him-and put it in my front pants pocket, where I could pull it out more easily,” Dever said. The man finally drove away.
Soon, however, two police officers showed up at Dever’s home. The man in the car had sworn out a criminal complaint, alleging that Dever had pointed a gun at him. “All they cared about was that I had a gun.” Dever said. “I made a statement, and then they put me in handcuffs.”
Dever was charged with brandishing a firearm, but it didn’t take long for Judge Robert Giammatorio to declare him not guilty. But then prosecutor Eliot Casey asked that Dever’s pistol be forfeited and destroyed, and the judge granted his motion.
Sensing his lawyer was not interested in trying to get the gun back, Dever contacted Daniel M. Zavadil of NRA’s Office of General Counsel. When judge Giammatorio signed the order to destroy Dever’s pistol, Zavadil appealed the same day, filing a request for another hearing. “I was amazed that the government would seek to forfeit and destroy a lawfully owned and possessed firearm, carried lawfully on his own property, after he was found not guilty of any wrongdoing,” Zavadil said.
A hearing was not necessary. After Zavadil made him aware that forfeiture and destruction order violated Virginia law, the prosecutor “graciously acknowledged the lack of legal authority” to seize and destroy the pistol. An order to return Larry Dever’s gun was signed immediately.
Copyright National Rifle Association of America Sep 2002
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