Yeah, I think so, though that's a policy decision rather than a matter of statutory interpretation. I believe using the term "weapons of mass destruction" is confusing in this context and generally inflammatory. The confusion in the thread is one good reason use a more appropriate phrase. Your words sum up my feelings pretty well:jestingrabbit wrote:Yeah, but, continuing the nitpicky business, it reads like a grenade can be a destructive device can be a weapon of mass destruction. That seems like an incredibly shitty lack of distinction to me. I mean, a grenade and a weapon of mass destruction should be different things under the law, shouldn't they?clintonius wrote:But the point is moot, as this isn't the charge they're bringing.
jestingrabbit wrote:I feel like the name of the offense is misleading at best, and likely to feed into a climate of fear and misinformation at worst.
On to other posts.
PolakoVoadar hit the nail on the head. No reasonable person thinks this means Tsernaev used a nuke, though it is plausible that some people now think the explosive devices were much larger than they'd originally believed. The bigger point, as evidenced in this thread, is that people are confused as to what constitutes a WMD, and are concerned that they have inadvertently committed serious offenses by owning antique firearms or getting creative on the 4th of July. These are misinterpretations, but it's hardly reasonable to expect everyone to parse legal language. That's why lawyers are so expensive.omgryebread wrote:Is anyone actually confused by the charge? Does anyone read the specific charges against Tsarnaev and think "oh shit he used a nuke?!?" Are these people a significant group, or are there less of them than say, people who believe the world is run by lizard-people?
I'm all for accuracy in language, but I think trying to clear up this "confusion" is tilting at windmills.
To expand on Zamfir's point, which was correct: Statutes make references to definitions, clarifications, exceptions, and other statutes, and these all must be read in conjunction with one another. It's easy to look at the definition of "destructive device" and assume that your July fireworks or your old blackpowder rifle count as WMDs, but that is flatly incorrect for at least two reasons. TGB covered the first: "The term 'destructive device' shall not include any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon. . . or any other device which the Attorney General finds is not likely to be used as a weapon, is an antique, or is a rifle which the owner intends to use solely for sporting, recreational or cultural purposes," etc. That means elephant guns don't qualify, either. These are exceptions and clarifications written directly into the statute. The second reason is that the devices listed are only considered WMDs for purposes of prosecution under 2332a, meaning you must be suspected of committing one of the offenses in 2332a before the "destructive device" becomes a "weapon of mass destruction" in the eyes of the law.
It absolutely does not fall afoul of WMD laws. TGB listed one reason. Every single word in a statute is important, and "against" here means there is a requirement that the usage be deliberate. And again, there's this: "The term 'destructive device' shall not include any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon." Making a bigger, more badass 4th of July rocket does not make the rocket "redesigned for use as a weapon" in your example.Tyndmyr wrote:You can totally use a device against property with no intent to hurt anyone. Let's say you're screwing around with fireworks, duct taping them together into some unholy mess with the idea of causing a huge bang. You blast it at the neighbor's barn. Crap. It burns down.TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Where are people getting this idea that you can face this charge for "mucking about with fireworks with no real intent to hurt anyone"? First of all, section 2332a only applies if you try to use a weapon against a person or property. By definition, that's not something you can do by accident. Second, fireworks are not destructive devices if they are "neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon." So even if you did take a firework and deliberately use it to kill someone, it would not qualify as a weapon of mass destruction unless you did some extra work in order to weaponize it.
Stupid and irresponsible? Sure. Technically falls afoul of WMD laws? Yeah, probably. Actually on a moral equivalent with smuggling a nuke into a city? God no.
And, uh, what is the legal standard? Have a source? If you're making this up as you go along, please stop. I'm all for discussion, but you're touting misinformation as fact, and I'm not all for that. Nobody is arguing that the statute isn't overly broad. It's just not as broad as you think it is.Tyndmyr wrote:Showing intent to harm property is not that high of a legal standard
As a final point: Nothing in these statutes means we found WMDs in Iraq. Again, you have to trigger the change from "destructive device" to WMD via 2332a. More pertinently, these laws have nothing to do with how the military or international organizations would define WMDs. This is a domestic criminal statute with absolutely no authority over or legal relation to any military definitions.
tl;dr -- yes, it's confusing to call these things WMDs; no, your fireworks and rifles will not be considered "destructive devices," let alone "weapons of mass destruction."