Man Caught with Assault Rifle in California Fails to Dismiss Charges
Unfamiliar with laws in different states could lead to unpredictable convictions
By Viviane Fairbank, Staff Writer
The motion to dismiss charges against Kody Kinzie-Zinn failed yesterday (May 7), leaving him to face a lengthy trial and sentencing of up to 15 years in prison in Kern County, Calif.
Kinzie says his mistake was failure to familiarize himself with California laws before entering the state. It cost him three felony and two mis-demeanour charges.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested the Oregon native in Kern County on Christmas Eve, 2011, as he was driving back to his native town of Ashland, Ore., from Los Angeles. They confiscated 34 items from his car, including an M4 Carbine – the item costing Kinzie his potential 15-year sentence.
While assault rifles are legal in Oregon, where Kinzie bought the weapon, they are illegal in the neighbouring state of California.
In his call for donations on the website Fundrazr, in hopes of raising money for a private defence lawyer, Kinzie said, “I now clearly realize how stupid it was, but although I was intimately aware of (and in compliance with) Oregon gun laws, it just honestly never occurred to me they’d be so different state-to-state.”
Kinzie’s car, a den for his compulsive collection of “interesting things,” also contained a gas mask, a machete, a shotgun and what Kinzie calls “an imitation lightsaber letter opener.” These were seized along with other items and Kinzie’s computer and camera, evidence which the police took to mean potential domestic terrorism, according to Kinzie’s arrest report.
As a security guard working and living part-time in Los Angeles, Kinzie has been familiar with guns since the age of 18, and has taught several gun safety lessons, he says. After having a firearm stolen from him in 2008, Kinzie “resolved never to leave any firearm [he] owned unattended, be it in a vehicle or an apartment,” which is why he had his firearms locked in his car with him at all times, including the day of his arrest.
Kinzie was taken into custody, and given a bail of just under $80,000. Following the conditions of his bail, he has been living in California ever since, going through the proceedings of a court with constant interruptions.
Kinzie states in a YouTube video for Fundrazr, “I’ve had delay after delay after delay in this whole process, but I’m getting to the point that I can’t delay it any longer.”
After an unsuccessful stint with a first lawyer who “didn’t do his job,” Kinzie has been on Fundrazr in an attempt to raise $20,000 toward a new attorney. For now, he has raised about $685, and he is working with a public defendant, facing the threat of conviction in a court that he describes as “very prosecution-friendly.”
Despite these setbacks, Kinzie says that many people on the social media site Reddit have helped him to become more involved with the trial proceedings, suggesting his use of Fundrazr and advising ways to get in touch with gun law organizations.
“I’m not very enthusiastic or hopeful about how it’s going to come out,” said Kinzie in his video.
Though Kinzie has “good grounds for an appeal” on the failed motion, he says it will have to be made from within prison.