Police charged student with felony for wearing fashion belt made from fake ammunition
Police dropped gun charges last Thursday against a former Fitchburg State University (FSU) student, after they had initially charged him for wearing a decorative belt made of inert ammunition.
According to a local newspaper, the Worcester Telegram, Andrew Despres 20, of New Bedford, was arrested and charged with possession of a belt of semi-automatic rifle ammunition without a Firearm Identification card despite the fact that that such belts are legal in Massachusetts and all 50 states.
Despres, who was also charged with trespassing, had previously been expelled from the school and was apparently returning to retrieve his effects.
As a result of the charges, he spent one week in jail, before being released on $50K bail.
Authorities finally dropped the firearm charge last Thursday, more than seven months later, after they determined the belt, purchased for $37.90 online, contained no live ammunition and was thus legal on school grounds.
According to CrustPunks.com, the website where Depres’ mother apparently purchased the belt, it is constructed of 57 .308 caliber brass copper bullet tips which have had all explosive materials removed.
The site does recommend customers use good judgment on wearing them in schools, airports, and other areas with heightened security.
Despres plead guilty to the charge of trespassing and was given one-year of administrative probation.
Despite all gun charges being dropped and a state police officer testifying the belt was purely decorative, Despres was required to turn over the fake ammo belt to state authorities.
Despres’ lawyer, Michael H. Erlich, claimed his client frequently wore the belt around campus and had previously worn it as he passed through a Homeland Security checkpoint on a trip to New York City.
In an interview with Campus Reform this week, Elrich said the belt was confiscated because the state determined it violated the legal definition of what constitutes ammunition.
“Under the technical language of the definition of ammunition it would fall into that, you know it was certainly not used for that, it was used for a costume jewelry type fashion statement,” said Erlich.
Erlich said the case was taken so seriously because Despres’ arrest happened a few days after the Newtown school shootings.
“I don’t think this case would have happened if it weren’t for the Newtown school shootings in Connecticut," he said. "This case happened about three or four days post shooting. Without question that was on everyone’s mind and because that was in the news in this case, it became a case essentially."
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