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Christmas in Jail: Guns, a ‘Dagger’ and a Carful of Trouble


“A Day of Resistance” protest in Kern Country for its gun laws and the impact on individuals like Kinzie

By Ethan Lou, Editor-in-Chief

Kody Kinzie, 25, of Ashland, Ore., was arrested in 2011 after sheriff's deputies found an assault rifle in his car.

Kody Kinzie, 25, of Ashland, Ore., was arrested in 2011 after sheriff’s deputies found an assault rifle in his car.

Midnight, Christmas Eve, 2011 — a sheriff’s deputy in a Santa Claus hat directed Kody Kinzie to his cell.  The 25-year-old has been in custody for nearly the entire day.

Nine hours ago, deputies found an Oregon-bought M4 Carbine in Kinzie’s car. It is legal in Oregon, but Kinzie happened to be in the neighbouring state of California, where assault rifles are banned. He now faces 15 years in prison.

Kinzie is a native of Ashland, Ore. He told Arbitrage Magazine he was driving home for Christmas that day from Los Angeles, where he works in armed security.

Along the 10-hour journey, somewhere near Kern County, Calif., Kinzie started removing bullets from a loaded magazine. It is something he habitually does — and something no law specifically forbids. But that afternoon, someone called 911.

Kody Kinzie's driving route. He was driving from Los Angeles (A) to Ashland, Ore. (C). Kinzie got pulled over along the way and spent the night in a Kern County jail (B). Source: Google

Kody Kinzie’s driving route. He was driving from Los Angeles (A) to Ashland, Ore. (C). Kinzie got pulled over along the way and spent the night in a Kern County jail (B). Source: Google

According to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, the 911 dispatcher told deputies that Kinzie was loading a gun while driving — not unloading a magazine — an offense in California if done without a concealed carry permit.

Oregon-registered cars are uncommon so far south. It wasn’t long before Kinzie was face down at a rest stop, square in the crosshairs of a deputy’s rifle.

The criminologist William Vizzard told Arbitrage that authorities are entitled to stop drivers in such situations to check their permits. But whether the amount of force is justified — that is a matter for the courts.

A Carful of Trouble

Deputies then searched Kinzie’s car — a search which, according to Kinzie, “took absolutely everything” out of his 1999 Honda Civic.

And for a man who says he “collects interesting things,” that did not bode well.

“Since I was moving down to Oregon [for a month], my car was packed full,” says Kinzie. “It had everything I’ve accrued…It was just full of thing after thing, after weird thing that they didn’t like.”

According to documents obtained by Arbitrage, a staggering 34 items were seized. They include two other guns — a handgun Kinzie uses for his job in L.A. and a shotgun, which he says the deputies “had no issues with.”

The rest of the items include ammunition, a “dagger,” a Taser, “high-capacity” 12-round magazines (California only allows magazines to hold 10), “survival equipment,” including a gas mask, and “a small amount of marijuana.”

The arresting deputy wrote in his report that he had “domestic terrorism” concerns. Kinzie, who also works as a photographer, had his cameras and laptop seized as well.

Though the search was conducted without a warrant or Kinzie’s consent, the 911 call can constitute “reasonable suspicion,” says Vizzard, a professor at Sacramento State University.

Charged in Court

According to court documents, Kinzie faces five charges. He was charged with one count of possession of an assault rifle and one count of possession of high-capacity magazines — two felonies. The marijuana got him a misdemeanour.

Kinzie’s remaining two charges — a felony and a misdemeanour — are for his handgun. It was deemed a “concealed weapon” that Kinzie was carrying without a permit.

Kinzie says he is a registered security guard, and according to Californian law, he should be able to carry the gun to and from work.

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