Is a gun legally considered loaded if the bullets are simply nearby?
According to police in Manchester, New Hampshire, it is.
In May of 2012, police searched Oriol Dor’s vehicle and found a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol in the glove compartment. Bullets were found adjacent to the gun. Dor was charged with “knowingly carrying a loaded pistol” even though no bullets were found in his gun. Dor appealed this ruling.
According to Heritage, possession of a loaded firearm is a far more serious misdemeanor than traveling with an unloaded or unsecure firearm in public.
Amazingly, this case made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the State of New Hampshire before common sense repealed the more serious charge. New Hampshire’s state motto, ironically, is “Live Free or Die.”
At one point, the State Justice even brought out a dictionary and looked up the word, “loaded” and read it aloud to the courtroom. The court also added that if proximity to bullets were enough to warrant a “loaded” firearm, then the law should specify what proximity is needed- how close must the bullet be for the firearm to be “loaded.”
With this definition of a “loaded” firearm firmly established, perhaps the legal system of New Hampshire won’t be so loaded towards the prosecution.