YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — When is a gun found in a vehicle considered loaded?
Municipal Court Judge Carla Baldwin will take two weeks to decide as she put on hold Wednesday binding a charge of improper handling of a firearm of a motor vehicle against 18-year-old Million Perry over to a Mahoning County grand jury.
Baldwin will decide if the gun found when Perry was pulled over June 29 for excessive window tint meets the legal definition of a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Perry had a preliminary hearing Wednesday about the stop, which happened about 7:50 p.m. June 29 at South and East Indianola avenues. He is free on bond.
Police searched the car because they smelled a strong odor of raw marijuana. In the center console, they found a magazine for a handgun loaded with 21 rounds of 9mm ammunition. In the back seat, they found an unloaded 9mm handgun and in the trunk, they found four rounds of 9mm ammunition.
Police charged Perry with the fourth degree felony because they contend the handgun and ammunition were in close proximity to each other; thus, for legal purposes, it would be considered a “loaded” firearm.
Perry’s lawyer, Lou DeFabio, said the legislature has changed the meaning of what constitutes a loaded gun in a vehicle several times over the years, but he said he thinks the latest change benefits his client.
DeFabio told Judge Baldwin that the most recent changes say that if ammunition for a gun is in a type of container that needs to be unfastened and it is stored within an inner compartment, it is not accessible to the driver and therefore the unloaded gun that was found could not be considered loaded.
Assistant City Prosecutor Gene Fehr agreed that the definition has changed several times over the years, and he noted it is on the verge of being changed again.
Fehr said the provision of the law DeFabio cited applied to when a person buys a firearm and how the ammunition is packaged separately for the firearm.
He also said the law doesn’t cede to the reality of the situation, which is a person pulled over by the police can rapidly eject the magazine from a semiautomatic gun, throw the unloaded gun in the back seat and then dump the magazine in the center console.
Judge Baldwin said she will issue a ruling within two weeks while she studies the law both attorneys cited.