NYPD Finds Black-Powder Gun During Possible "Sovereign Citizen" Traffic Stop
Failure to use a turn signal resulted in a scuffle with police and confiscation of a functional replica pistol.
When officers John Venza and Kenneth Maslowski pulled over a van with no license plates in Red Hook, the driver of the blue minivan began espousing opinions consistent with the sovereign citizen movement, where adherents cite conspiracy theories about shadow governments and gold-backed dollars to reinforce their beliefs against needing vehicle license plates, driver's licenses, or even paying taxes. According to the NYPD, the man vehemently refused to provide any identification or vehicle registration, but eventually handed over an out-of-state driver's license. The vehicle was found to be unregistered, uninsured, and had a title under a different name.
When police attempted to confiscate the vehicle, the man locked himself inside and officers had to break out a window to remove him. During the scuffle, police spotted a gun in the vehicle. It was a functioning replica of a black-powder revolver from the 1800s and was stored with the ammunition and explosive black powder necessary for it to fire like any other gun. Other replica revolvers made by the same manufacturer fire .44 caliber projectiles, but it was unclear which model the driver had in his vehicle. After this discovery, the man was taken into custody.
The traffic stop took place on April 17, just days before the 117th anniversary of New York becoming the first state to require license plates in 1901.