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Thread: Accidental discharge of my husband’s Glock 19 - Your help needed

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    Lightbulb Accidental discharge of my husband’s Glock 19 - Your help needed

    Your help is needed!

    On March 2, 2012, I had an accidental discharge of my husband’s Glock 19 while attempting to clear it before taking it into Virginia Arms in Manassas. No one was hurt, and the only property damaged was our van. I had the firearm pointed in a safe direction (down), and it was truly an accident. The Manassas City Police department charged me with two violations of the Virginia Code, but the Commonwealth’s Attorney dropped one charge at my first court appearance on March 20th.

    I am still charged with violation of Virginia Code 18.2-56-1, “Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling while hunting”, a class 1 misdemeanor.

    I have discussed this with attorney Dan Hawes, and he believes that my case is winnable. Unfortunately, I need assistance with coming up with his fees. Anyone wishing to help with my legal defense fund may send a contribution directly to Dan Hawes, PO Box 100, Broad Run, VA 20137-0100, please reference "Accidental2012". Many of you know other methods of contacting him and may do so to discuss this further.

    Thank You!
    Last edited by Accidental2012; 04-11-2012 at 12:15 AM.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Accidental2012 View Post
    Your help is needed!

    On March 2, 2012, I had an accidental discharge of my husband’s Glock 19 while attempting to clear it before taking it into Virginia Arms in Manassas. No one was hurt, and the only property damaged was our van. I had the firearm pointed in a safe direction (down), and it was truly an accident. The Manassas City Police department charged me with two violations of the Virginia Code, but the Commonwealth’s Attorney dropped one charge at my first court appearance on March 20th.

    I am still charged with violation of Virginia Code 18.2-56-1, “Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling while hunting”, a class 1 misdemeanor.

    I have discussed this with attorney Dan Hawes, and he believes that my case is winnable. Unfortunately, I need assistance with coming up with his fees. Anyone wishing to help with my legal defense fund may send a contribution directly to Dan Hawes, PO Box 100, Broad Run, VA 20137-0100, please reference "Accidental2012". Many of you know other methods of contacting him and may do so to discuss this further.

    Thank You!
    We have had fundraisers for members here before. In those cases they involved people who were well know in the gun community.

    I don't know any of the facts in this case or you. There is a limited amount we can do to fund defense or litigation and in fact, one of the embers here is preparing to take action against a local police department. I suspect he'll need help.

    Dan Hawes is a Champion in these parts though and if he's representing you, I think I can send in a very small donation.

    Best of luck and if it means anything, you have the very best criminal defense attorney in this state.
    Last edited by peter nap; 04-11-2012 at 03:58 AM.

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    Regular Member Jack House's Avatar
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    Just a word of warning, be prepared to get slammed. Just sayin~

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    18.2-56.1. Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling while hunting.

    A. It shall be unlawful for any person to handle recklessly any firearm so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
    18.2-11. Punishment for conviction of misdemeanor.

    The authorized punishments for conviction of a misdemeanor are:

    (a) For Class 1 misdemeanors, confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
    Could you provide a little more info on why Dan believes this to be an accidental discharge versus a negligent discharge which I would assume factors into his belief that the case can be resolved in your favor despite happening in a crowded strip mall and in front of a gun store frequented by off- and on-duty policemen?

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob1 View Post
    Could you provide a little more info on why Dan believes this to be an accidental discharge versus a negligent discharge which I would assume factors into his belief that the case can be resolved in your favor despite happening in a crowded strip mall and in front of a gun store frequented by off- and on-duty policemen?
    1 - I believe Dan (User) would have advised his client to exercise her right to remain silent regarding the specifics of the incident. The OP has, I believe, suggsted that if we have any doubts we can contact Dan (User) to ask for more detail. My guess would be that he will very politely explain to you attorney-client privilege.

    2 - While we may all agree that this sounds like a negligent discharge rather than an accidental one, we should also keep in mind that a huge percentage of the population still lables as an accident anything they did not want to happen but it did. I have no idea if the OP falls into that category or not, so do not even begin to presume so without some facts supporting your stance.

    3 - I'm going to send a donation because I can and I truely know how that "There but for the grace of God go I" thing works.

    4 - If Dan (User) suddenly starts receiving money for someone/something he is not involved in, he will be very vigorous in responding appropriately. He does not like his honor and his reputation messed with.

    As always, YMMV.

    stay safe.
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    Good observation, Paul. And you're correct, I can ask Dan for additional details the next time I see him...he's always been forthcoming within the legal bounds of what he's allowed to say without violating a client's privacy nor compromising the case. I'm certainly willing to make a defense fund donation if the OP has been unfairly charged, as you were, but I don't know enough at this point to hazard a guess.

    If nothing else, it would be helpful to have a pointer to the local blotter report. Or the date it happened would suffice.

    I'm particularly interested in tracking this one since it's in my county and our LEO's usually don't error in the direction of overcharging someone with a firearms violation. But maybe they did, apparently one unnamed charge has already been dropped.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob1 View Post
    I'm particularly interested in tracking this one since it's in my county and our LEO's usually don't error in the direction of overcharging someone with a firearms violation. But maybe they did, apparently one unnamed charge has already been dropped.
    Are you aware of the Tony's Pizza 'incident'? That was Manassas City Police as well.... the same department that filed charges in this case.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    I would be curious to learn if the reason you were clearing the firearm was that the store policy required it. I have a pet pieve that any place requires anyone to unload a gun before bringing it into a store. The more you handle/cycle a gun the more opportunity for something to go wrong. If it was left properly holstered this AD/ND never would have happened. On the other hand if the gun was being brought in for maintenance, to sell, or trying on holsters, clearing it would have been propper etiquette.
    "Cogito, ergo armatum sum: I think, therefore I am armed."

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    I would be curious to learn if the reason you were clearing the firearm was that the store policy required it.

    I have a pet pieve that any place requires anyone to unload a gun before bringing it into a store. The more you handle/cycle a gun the more opportunity for something to go wrong. If it was left properly holstered this AD/ND never would have happened.

    On the other hand if the gun was being brought in for maintenance, to sell, or trying on holsters, clearing it would have been propper etiquette.
    Exactly Mike!

    Skidmark said everything I didn't. I'll just send the donation and hear the facts after the trial. I wouldn't expect the lady to divulge any facts in advance.

  10. #10
    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    I would be curious to learn if the reason you were clearing the firearm was that the store policy required it.

    I have a pet pieve that any place requires anyone to unload a gun before bringing it into a store. The more you handle/cycle a gun the more opportunity for something to go wrong. If it was left properly holstered this AD/ND never would have happened.

    On the other hand if the gun was being brought in for maintenance, to sell, or trying on holsters, clearing it would have been propper etiquette.
    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Exactly Mike!

    Skidmark said everything I didn't. I'll just send the donation and hear the facts after the trial. I wouldn't expect the lady to divulge any facts in advance.
    I'm "Jim", Mike is "MSC 45acp" I like Sig's, Mike likes Kimber's (we both like USP's though). :-) So many people confuse us since we both are in the Yorktown area and we are sometimes seen together at dinners or the range and were at the York BoS meeting sitting next to each other.

    My original pet pieve comes from the older school laws where you had to unload your gun before arriving on school property. Now we can leave it loaded in a glovebox (secure container). I used to go into my daughters elementary school several times a week for volunteer time, and sit with them during lunch (or bring them lunch). Each time I had to remember to unload my gun and lock it in my lock-box since I didn't have a trunk. My daughters are older but I LOVE the new law which prevents me from having to handle my gun as much. One reason I liked the USP was that you could cycle it with the safety on which minimized any risk of AD/ND.

    I was asked to leave, unload my gun or leave it in the car at Blackhawk HQ's store in Norfolk. I was flabbergasted that such a great company had such a policy. For them I suggested a sign that said, "Any loaded weapon is required to remain holstered at all times.", rather than forbid OC.

    I'll send a small donation and hope Dan can make due. ETA: Sent.
    Last edited by 45acpForMe; 04-11-2012 at 08:51 AM.
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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    I'm "Jim", Mike is "MSC 45acp" I like Sig's, Mike likes Kimber's (we both like USP's though). :-) So many people confuse us since we both are in the Yorktown area and we are sometimes seen together at dinners or the range and were at the York BoS meeting sitting next to each other.

    My pet pieve comes from the older school laws where you had to unload your gun before arriving on school property. Now we can leave it loaded in a glovebox (secure container). I used to go into my daughters elementary school several times a week for volunteer time, and sit with them during lunch (or bring them lunch). Each time I had to remember to unload my gun and lock it in my lock-box since I didn't have a trunk. My daughters are older but I LOVE the new law which prevents me from having to handle my gun as much. One reason I liked the USP was that you could cycle it with the safety on which minimized any risk of AD/ND.

    I was asked to leave, unload my gun or leave it in the car at Blackhawk HQ's store in Norfolk. I was flabbergasted that such a great company had such a policy. For them I suggested a sign that said, "Any loaded weapon is required to remain holstered at all times.", rather than forbid OC.

    I'll send a small donation and hope Dan can make due.
    Sorry Jim. I keep mixing my 45ACP's

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    Regular Member Felix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blk97F150 View Post
    Are you aware of the Tony's Pizza 'incident'? That was Manassas City Police as well.... the same department that filed charges in this case.
    That's ancient history. I was one of the many who heeded PVC's call to drive up there and pack the City Council meeting but by now all three major players...city manager, city attorney and police chief...have been replaced. I've been led to believe the Manassas PD has cleaned up their act and the city, including the county, is now a very gun-friendly area with LEOs who are well versed in carry laws. I don't recall seeing another VCDL-publicized incident of police over reaction concerning firearms in Manassas after the Tony's incident which sure got the city a lot of negative attention by virtue of the responding officers not knowing the applicable statutes.

    I don't live up there but Southern Boy does and is active on the forum. Maybe he'll jump in if things haven't changed.
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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felix View Post
    That's ancient history. I was one of the many who heeded PVC's call to drive up there and pack the City Council meeting but by now all three major players...city manager, city attorney and police chief...have been replaced. I've been led to believe the Manassas PD has cleaned up their act and the city, including the county, is now a very gun-friendly area with LEOs who are well versed in carry laws. I don't recall seeing another VCDL-publicized incident of police over reaction concerning firearms in Manassas after the Tony's incident which sure got the city a lot of negative attention by virtue of the responding officers not knowing the applicable statutes.

    I don't live up there but Southern Boy does and is active on the forum. Maybe he'll jump in if things haven't changed.
    It was a long time ago Felix and rumor has it, they are no longer "stoopid" or abusive. We don't hear many complaints from there anymore...but history does tend to repeat itself.

    That said, without knowing any details, I would expect them to charge her with something just because a shot was fired.
    I don't even know that Dan has accepted the case but if he has, I'm content to send a donation and get the details later.

    I have enough windmills to fight on my side of the street.

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    This was an accidental discharge, noting that we commonly use the word, "accident" to include acts of simple negligence, along with random, unpredictable events. This may have been an act of simple negligence. However the facts indicate that she was doing what she could to do what she was doing safely, and in particular, being scrupulous about keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. She made a couple of mistakes, first in the order of operations, resulting in a round being in the chamber unexpectedly, and secondly, attempting to remove the slide (requiring a pull of the trigger) instead of merely locking the slide back. But such mistakes coupled with adherence to the safety rules do not constitute "gross negligence", much less "recklessness".

    Recklessness, in the criminal context, requires such a degree of indifference to life, limb, and property, as to constitute criminal malice. If she'd had the gun pointed at a crowd of people when attempting to unload it instead of down at the seat in the van, that would have been recklessness. This was not reckless handling of a firearm, it was careful handling of a firearm with a couple of unfortunate mistakes. If she hadn't been the owner of the vehicle that now has a hole in the seat, the owner could sue her for negligence, but this was clearly not a crime, and I think it was wrong to have charged her.

    I have observed an increase, generally, in such charges around Virginia, which I believe is merely an attempt to "get guns off the street" on the part of law enforcement, since they always seize the guns and almost never give them back.
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    Regular Member The Wolfhound's Avatar
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    If they would apply the rules equally......

    And charge law enforcement as freely as they seem to charge the greater population, there would be fewer police or fewer charges rendered. Somehow, they get more free passes issued. What is good for the goose..........
    Last edited by The Wolfhound; 04-11-2012 at 11:00 AM.
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    Just what does this law mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob1 View Post

    18.2-56.1. Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling while hunting.

    A. It shall be unlawful for any person to handle recklessly any firearm so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
    IANAL ... but the inclusion in the law of the underlined phrase intrigues me. Its inclusion implies that there must be such endangerment for the handling to be legally reckless. The lawmakers could have omitted that phrase entirely, but they chose to include it for some reason.

    If the OP was alone within the confines of her own vehicle and the gun discharged into the seat of the vehicle, then just how could this have endangered any person, other than herself? Was it the intent of the law that each and every unintended discharge be a case of reckless handling? If so, why include the underlined phrase?

    Unfortunately, the phrase also reads "any person", which might be interpreted as including the person who caused the unintended discharge.

    Moreover, the law does not exempt gun ranges or private residences. Hypothetically, an unintended discharge at a range (yeah, THAT never happens) could be similarly charged as "reckless handling". An unintended discharge within your own home could be chargeable as reckless handling, as the law is written.

    Perhaps we should place this law on the list for revision at the next GA session.

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    Regular Member Marco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    I would be curious to learn if the reason you were clearing the firearm was that the store policy required it. .

    Virginia Arms in Manassas doesn't have a policy against OC'ing/CC'ing loaded firerams as far as I remember, was there about two weeks ago.

    Edit:
    hopefully this none offense /on topic post doesn't get deleted like my last none offensive/on topic post did.
    Last edited by Marco; 04-11-2012 at 11:59 AM.
    "The Second Amendment similarly appears to contain an express limitation on the government's authority. If the Second Amendment is read to confer a personal right to 'keep and bear arms,' a colorable argument exists that the Federal Government's regulatory scheme, at least as it pertains to possession of firearms, runs afoul of that amendment's protections" (U.S. v. Printz, 1997) ~Clarence Thomas (SPJ)

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent19 View Post
    Virginia Arms in Manassas doesn't have a policy against OC'ing/CC'ing loaded firerams as far as I remember, was there about two weeks ago.

    Edit:
    hopefully this none offense /on topic post doesn't get deleted like my last none offensive/on topic post did.
    +1

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent19 View Post
    Virginia Arms in Manassas doesn't have a policy against OC'ing/CC'ing loaded firerams as far as I remember, was there about two weeks ago.

    Edit:
    hopefully this none offense /on topic post doesn't get deleted like my last none offensive/on topic post did.
    They do, however, have a policy against handling loaded firearms.

    I was there last week, and wanted to try on a new gun belt, but as I was OCing at the time, I asked if they had a problem with me removing my holster with the gun still in it (so I could try on the belt and get it sized right). I was told not to handle it in the store while loaded, but they recommended I secure it in my car if I wanted to try on belts.

    I would assume most gun stores would have a similar policy regarding handling loaded firearms. Carry isn't a problem, as the gun isn't just going to go off in your holster. Handling it can cause any number of safety problems, especially since they don't know your experience level and deal with a lot of new shooters.
    Alma 43:47 - "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed...."
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    Regular Member Marco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    They do, however, have a policy against handling loaded firearms.

    I was there last week, and wanted to try on a new gun belt, but as I was OCing at the time, I asked if they had a problem with me removing my holster with the gun still in it (so I could try on the belt and get it sized right). I was told not to handle it in the store while loaded, but they recommended I secure it in my car if I wanted to try on belts.

    I would assume most gun stores would have a similar policy regarding handling loaded firearms. Carry isn't a problem, as the gun isn't just going to go off in your holster. Handling it can cause any number of safety problems, especially since they don't know your experience level and deal with a lot of new shooters.

    That's not a policy against OC/CC loaded..
    I agree with that policy... treat the gunshop the same as the grocery store leave it holstered/untouched unless you need it...
    Last edited by Marco; 04-11-2012 at 01:11 PM.
    "The Second Amendment similarly appears to contain an express limitation on the government's authority. If the Second Amendment is read to confer a personal right to 'keep and bear arms,' a colorable argument exists that the Federal Government's regulatory scheme, at least as it pertains to possession of firearms, runs afoul of that amendment's protections" (U.S. v. Printz, 1997) ~Clarence Thomas (SPJ)

  21. #21
    Regular Member paramedic70002's Avatar
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    I'm curious what the OP was HUNTING in her car. The title of the Code in question seems to imply that it is about reckless hunting.
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  22. #22
    Super Moderator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    This was an accidental discharge, noting that we commonly use the word, "accident" to include acts of simple negligence, along with random, unpredictable events. This may have been an act of simple negligence. However the facts indicate that she was doing what she could to do what she was doing safely, and in particular, being scrupulous about keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. She made a couple of mistakes, first in the order of operations, resulting in a round being in the chamber unexpectedly, and secondly, attempting to remove the slide (requiring a pull of the trigger) instead of merely locking the slide back. But such mistakes coupled with adherence to the safety rules do not constitute "gross negligence", much less "recklessness".

    Recklessness, in the criminal context, requires such a degree of indifference to life, limb, and property, as to constitute criminal malice. If she'd had the gun pointed at a crowd of people when attempting to unload it instead of down at the seat in the van, that would have been recklessness. This was not reckless handling of a firearm, it was careful handling of a firearm with a couple of unfortunate mistakes. If she hadn't been the owner of the vehicle that now has a hole in the seat, the owner could sue her for negligence, but this was clearly not a crime, and I think it was wrong to have charged her.

    I have observed an increase, generally, in such charges around Virginia, which I believe is merely an attempt to "get guns off the street" on the part of law enforcement, since they always seize the guns and almost never give them back.
    Thanks for the input Dan.

    How may funds be directed to assist in this ladies defense?
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  23. #23
    Super Moderator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramedic70002 View Post
    I'm curious what the OP was HUNTING in her car. The title of the Code in question seems to imply that it is about reckless hunting.
    It has been suggested (stated?) by Dan Hawes, I believe, that they title of a code does not play into the meaning/interpretation of the law. All such is contained within the body of the statute.
    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time.

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  24. #24
    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Thanks for the input Dan.

    How may funds be directed to assist in this ladies defense?
    From the original post:

    Anyone wishing to help with my legal defense fund may send a contribution directly to Dan Hawes, PO Box 100, Broad Run, VA 20137-0100, please reference "Accidental2012".

    I sent my check there via mail.
    "Cogito, ergo armatum sum: I think, therefore I am armed."

  25. #25
    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    From the original post:

    Anyone wishing to help with my legal defense fund may send a contribution directly to Dan Hawes, PO Box 100, Broad Run, VA 20137-0100, please reference "Accidental2012".

    I sent my check there via mail.
    I've been prepping for a class on advanced color grading (Which is way over my head) since around midnight, so I haven't been following things real closely...but...

    Every so often I get so sick of the cheerleaders, chest thumpers, EM's that don't know S^it, CHiPpers, and so on...that I want to go off in the woods and forget about the gun community .....

    Then the good ones will come out of the woodwork and remind me that there are a hell of a lot of decent people to be proud of.

    Today is one of those days!

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