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Eight-Time Felon Arrested For Possession Of Antique Style Guns

John David Hirst was arrested by Citrus County Sheriff's deputies during a traffic stop on Jan. 31.

Dunnellon, FL – An eight-time convicted felon found in possession of multiple firearms is back out on the street after posting bond for his latest alleged offenses.

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies arrested 54-year-old John David Hirst during a traffic stop in the 7000-block of North Florida Avenue on Jan. 31, according to the West Marion Messenger.

Deputies had initially responded to the area of North Alameda Drive and East Citrus Springs Boulevard after they received a report of a suspicious person in the neighborhood.

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CCSO Deputy Daniel Elias spotted a silver vehicle with illegal tint driving in the area and conducted a traffic stop.

The driver was later identified as Hirst.

During the course of the stop, Deputy Elias and CCSO Detective Mike Laborda asked the convicted felon if he was in possession of any drugs or firearms, the West Marion Messenger reported.

Hirst told them he had one cap-and-ball gun in his pocket and two other cap-and-ball pistols on the front passenger seat beside him.

The suspect was also had a Smith & Wesson knife with a serrated, curved fixed-blade stuffed into his pocket, according to the West Marion Messenger.

Hirst has eight prior felony convictions and has served prison time, police said.

At least two of those convictions involved illegally carrying concealed firearms, according to the West Marion Messenger.

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Deputies contacted the Executive Office of Clemency and confirmed that Hirst’s right to possess firearms has not been restored.

Deputies determined that the weapons Hirst was carrying were a .22-caliber pistol and two .44-caliber F.Lli Pietta revolvers.

But the weapons may meet the definition of “antique firearms,” which could potentially be legal for Hirst to possess, depending on the weapons’ ignition systems.

According to Florida law, an antique fire arm is defined as “any firearm manufactured in or before 1918 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar early type of ignition system) or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1918, and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1918, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.”

In 2016, the Florida Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to overturn the firearms possession conviction of Christopher Weeks, Courthouse News Service reported at the time.

Weeks was already a convicted felon when he was found hunting with an antique muzzleloader.

He was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and was initially sentenced to three years of probation.

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The court later determined that Weeks should not have been arrested for carrying the weapon because it did not qualify as a firearm under Florida law since it met the definition of an antique firearm.

“The term ‘firearm’ does not include an antique firearm unless the antique firearm is used in the commission of a crime,” the law reads.

Hirst posted $32,500 bond shortly after his arrest and was released from jail pending his Feb. 10 arraignment, the West Marion Messenger reported.

Holly Matkin - February Tue, 2020

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