Friday, February 11, 2011

No connection between gun and drugs found in car

It is rare for the Sixth Circuit to find no sufficient connection between a firearm and drugs when both are in the same vehicle. The split-decision in US v. McKenzie (unpublished), available here, provides some light for the often-raised challenge to enhancements under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(6) – particularly where the small amount of drugs is clearly for personal use.

A loaded firearm and 1.1 grams of marijuana (worth approximately $2-$15) were found in defendant’s car. The firearm was hidden between the driver’s seat and the center console, the marijuana was on the arm rest of the driver-side door. The defendant had been shot at earlier in the day and claimed the gun was for self-protection. The Sixth Circuit agreed the gun was for self-protection and unrelated to the small amount of marijuana possessed for personal use only. The mere proximity of the gun to the drugs was not enough to establish a sufficient connection under the guidelines.

Circuit Judge McKeague dissented, noting the ample prior cases applying the guideline for simultaneous possession of a firearm and small amounts of drugs.

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