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Article 134 - Carrying a Concealed Weapon

Under this section of article 134, incidents where a serviceman is found carrying and concealing a dangerous weapon are covered. In wake of the heightened security across US Army bases after the Navy Yard incident, these articles gain great importance. It is necessary for service members to be aware of such UMCJ articles and their consequences so that they can exercise necessary caution and safeguard their rights if charged with these offenses.

The elements to be proved in ' Carrying concealed weapons' trails are as follows:

  • That at a specific time and place, the accused was found carrying, in a concealed manner, a specified weapon.
  • That this act of the accused was unlawful.
  • That the weapon specified was deemed a dangerous weapon.
  • That given the circumstances, the behavior of the accused was against the discipline and good order that is expected of members of the armed forces; or his behavior brought discredit to the United States armed forces in some way.

What is the Maximum Punishment for these Violations?

If proven guilty of this offense, the accused faces bad conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and confinement for one year as maximum punishment.

Explanation of Terms

Under this section, the accused is violating the UCMJ if the weapon is concealed 'on or about' his person. This means that the weapon in on his person or within his immediate reach. A concealed weapon is one that the accused deliberately keeps hidden from view.

It is not necessary that only guns or knives or other items that are designed to inflict injuries will be considered dangerous weapons under this section. If the accused has concealed an item with a view to using it to inflict grievous bodily harm, it is automatically considered a dangerous weapon.

The weapon is deemed dangerous if it is capable of causing grievous bodily harm, meaning that it's use can result in fractured bones or dislocated bones, severe damage to internal organs or other serious injury.

Points to Note:

  • The prosecution does not need to establish that grievous bodily harm was actually caused by the weapon. It is sufficient to prove that to cause such harm was the intent of the accused.
  • The unlawfulness of the act of carrying a dangerous weapon in a concealed manner may be inferred from the circumstances of the incident. In effect, circumstantial evidence is permitted to be used by the prosecution to show that the accused intended to use the weapon for a purpose that was not supported or justified by law.
  • In his defense, the accused can present evidence to show that he had lawful reasons to be carrying the weapon in a concealed manner.
  • The words 'dangerous weapon' mentioned in this section carry a different meaning from the same terms mentioned in relation to offenses of aggravated assault. Even an unloaded pistol may be deemed a 'dangerous weapon' under article 134 UCMJ ( United States v. Ramsey, 18 C.M.R. 588 (A.F.B.R. 1954))

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