Judicial District of Middletown


     Criminal; Whether General Statutes § 29-38, Which Prohibits Weapons in Vehicles, is Unconstitutionally Vague; Whether Defendant’s Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms was Unreasonably Infringed. On July 22, 2010, the defendant, a member of the military and a former army medic, was moving his belongings from a home in Clinton to a new home in the Boston area.  Among the belongings in his vehicle was a collection of swords and knives.  The defendant was involved in an automobile accident in Clinton that day, and he was charged with having weapons in his vehicle in violation of General Statutes § 29-38 (a) after police investigating the accident discovered in his vehicle what the prosecuting authorities described as a “police baton” and a “dirk knife.”  Section 29-38 (a) prohibits persons from knowingly having “any weapon” in their vehicle and defines “weapon” to include a “police baton” and a “dirk knife.”  At trial, the police officer who seized the items testified that a dirk knife is a “double-edged knife.”  The defendant testified that the expandable device alleged to be a “police baton” was a “metal extension” that he used as an army medic to splint bone fractures.  The defendant was convicted of two counts of violating § 29-38 (a) by having a police baton and a dirk knife in his vehicle.  He appeals, claiming that § 29-38 is unconstitutionally vague as applied to him because the statute did not give him fair notice of the conduct it proscribes.  He claims that, absent any statutory definitions of what constitutes a “police baton” or “dirk knife,” he could not have reasonably known that he had those prohibited items in his vehicle on the day of his move.  The defendant also argues in support of his vagueness claim that the statute does not provide clear guidance as to whether the law permits one to move legally-owned weapons from one residence to another by motor vehicle.  He also claims that the exceptions to the prohibition on carrying weapons in a vehicle set out in § 29-38 (b) are unclear and that he believed that, as an active member of the military, his conduct was permitted under those exceptions.  Finally, the defendant argues that § 29-38, as applied to the facts of his case, constitutes an unreasonable infringement on his second amendment right to bear arms.