Yunsong Zhao: Charges Dropped on Obscure Rifle law after Eight Months in Custody

Yunsong Zhao: Charges Dropped on Obscure Rifle law after  Eight Months in Custody
Yunsong Zhao: Charges Dropped on Obscure Rifle law after Eight Months in Custody

U.S.A. -(Ammoland.com)- On September 24, 2018, Yunsong Zhao was vindicated. He had done nothing illegal. The evidence against him was so weak, the judge did not let the case go to trial. He dismissed the case based on lack of evidence. From wsls.com:

CHRISTIANSBURG — A judge on Monday dismissed the firearms charge against former Virginia Tech student Yunsong Zhao, saying that he didn’t believe the police officer or gun dealer who were the prosecution’s main witnesses.

The evidence that Zhao, a 20-year-old Chinese national, possessed an assault weapon that is allowed only for U.S. citizens or permanent residents was too flimsy to let a jury even consider a conviction, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Marc Long said. Zhao, who has been locked up since his Jan. 29 arrest, had faced up to five years in a Virginia prison if found guilty on the gun charge.

Zhao grinned and clasped his hands after Monday’s dismissal — then was returned to the custody of federal immigration authorities.

If Zhao had been a citizen or a permanent resident, he would have been released at that point. But Zhao was in the U.S. on a student visa.

Zhao had been charged with an obscure law making it illegal for a non-citizen to put a magazine that holds more than 20 rounds into a semi-automatic rifle. Zhao had legally purchased the rifle, which originally had 30 round magazines with it. Because Zhao had researched the law, he knew he could not legally put the magazines in the rifle. He traded them for a sling and purchased 20 round magazines. He was arrested after firing the rifle at a range. Fortunately, a friend had videotaped him. The video showed him changing the magazine after 20 rounds.

An undercover officer had followed him to the range.  The officer claimed he saw a 30 round magazine in the rifle. That is what resulted in the arrest. A search of Zhao's possessions only turned up 20 round magazines. The officer claimed he did not video the firing, because his cell phone ran out of battery power at exactly that point. The judge did not buy the officer's explanation.

While Zhao was in custody,  he was expelled from Virginia Tech for unauthorized possession of a knife on campus. The charges were brought after he had been arrested on the rifle charge. He was unable to contest the charges because he was in custody. As he was no longer enrolled at Virginia Tech, he lost his student visa.

After he was acquitted of the rifle charges, he remained in custody because he no longer had a student visa. An immigration court ruled that he had to stay in custody, largely because of the rifle case (which had been dismissed).

Yunsong Zhao left the United States in October of 2018. He was simply tired of being in custody. He could leave because he had been acquitted. He had been in custody for close to nine months.

He had not committed any crimes. He came to the U.S. legally.

He went into custody as a teenager. He came out most of a year later. At 19, nine months is a very long period of time.

I would like to believe the authorities had a legitimate reason to target Yunsong Zhao. It would make living in the United States easier.

We rightly condemn other countries for holding U.S. citizens for months and years without proper trials.

Yunsong Zhao was caught in a trap of U.S. paranoia, obscure weapons law (which he obeyed!) and insane University regulations forbidding the possession of a knife.

The authorities said they were concerned he had purchased a former police car. He had looked at how much police lights for the car cost online. He had looked up what bullet-resistant vests cost. He had looked online at the cost of 5,000 rounds of ammunition.

Strung together, these items can sound menacing. They do not seem unusual for a teenage university student who is interested in police work. If Zhao were a citizen or permanent resident, looking at these items online would be covered by the First Amendment.

University students in other countries should be careful to not break the laws or rules they are supposed to live under.

But hold a young man in custody for nine months because of a stupid rule about possession of a knife with a blade of more than 5 inches? On a university campus?

This is America.

Consider a student is forbidden to possess a knife on an American campus. Not carry a knife, but to possess a knife. Think about how far that is from the Second Amendment.

Virginia Tech is not alone. Many American colleges and universities forbid students from possessing knives on campus. It is irrational. It is stupid. It shows how far our insane universities are going to indoctrinate students with anti-weapon attitudes.

Virginia Tech is a public, “land grant” college.  It is a senior Reserve Officer Training Corps college. It obtains considerable money from the United States and the State of Virginia.

The college is allowed to obtain this money while blatantly enforcing absolutist anti-self defense and anti-Second Amendment rules.

How is it that land grant institutions are allowed to show such a flagrant disregard for one of the foundational freedoms in the United States?

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCC)has been making significant progress over the last ten years. Several states have reformed their laws to allow students to exercise Second Amendment rights on campus. SCC does not lobby to reform the rules for possessing knives on campus.

Knife Rights is pushing hard to eliminate knife bans from state statutes. That does not eliminate university rules.

What happened to Yunsong Zhao should be a warning to all Americans.


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 74 thoughts on “Yunsong Zhao: Charges Dropped on Obscure Rifle law after Eight Months in Custody

    1. I actually happen to know this guy, the guy speaks perfect English with a southern accent, I wouldn’t believe he was a China born-and-raised if he hadn’t told me. He’s just an average guy who loves guns without anything wrong and I heard he’s still doing good in China.

    2. I agree in principle but not in procedurally. There appears to be strong evidence the cop committed perjury. The judge rightly dismissed the case. However, a judge can only recommend to the prosecuting attorney that an investigation be undertaken. Failure to prosecute falls at the feet of the chief prosecutor of that jurisdiction. Most of the time this is an elected office, sometimes it’s an appointed office. Political pressure needs to be applied to this elected official to initiate an action that the public sees as just. Judges should never be in a position to prosecute!

    3. The lying sack of shit cop in this case should be charged and tried for FELONY PERJURY, sent to prison, serve his time in General population, and be sodomized for a decade and then released, ALL HONEST cops should advocate for this because this crap makes them all look bad!

    4. This case is a perfect example of why citizens should not completely rely on the government for their protection and their needs. The liberals keep telling us police will protect us, but where was the protection here?

    5. Many of you have cogent arguments and or points in this form, it is much appreciated. However the fact that many of you don’t take the effort to check your spelling detracks from your comments and or arguments. As they say in the South, “I’m just sayin”.

      1. So, being only with a high school education the misuse of proper writing and word usage makes a person distracted. So, I got really distracted by your comments. BTW I wonder how I ever became so successful in life while not using proper sentences structure. Well crap.

    6. Trump should issue a full apology to the man from the US and force the leftist sicko’s at VT to reinstate him with a full scholarship just for being a bunch of dipshits. Just proves how corrupt the state of virginia really is. Thank God for a smart and educated Judge.

    7. He should get a good law firm to go after the Police Dept and the cop, go after cop personally.
      Cop should be prosecuted for lying to the court.
      He shoud be made whole for all expenses from his tuition, housing and fees,
      plus compensation for nine months in jail for no reason.

      The man was framed.

    8. I Back our Blue BUT trust is earned. Officers that obviously overstep the bounds like this MUST be held accountable. Most officers I have known are reasonable in executing their duties BUT one bad apple will destroy the public trust faster than it can be repaired. Planting evidence and lying in court is not going to build trust besides being illegal. Police departments must weed out the bad actors.

      1. I agree. This kid got railroaded and was unlucky because of being investigated by a law man without personal integrity. And it took nine months to find out this kid did nothing wrong. Man this nation is out of touch with common sense.

    9. The COP should be arrested for lying about a fictious offence to a judge and then fired for the same reason. The cop should have to pay to have the man reinstated in college and a fine for pain and suffering. Maybe there is more to this story but with what is written this is police harassment big time and that cop owes that man an apology and money. Now the guy has lost most anything he had, he got booted out of college and likely out of the U.S. I wonder if they gave him back his AR 15? This guy could sue and win against the town and state. I hope he does so.

    10. Sorry, I disagree 100%. Every Chinese national that’s here is “allowed” to come on the condition that he gathers intelligence during his stay. Do we know he wasn’t sent specifically to test the law in question?
      Yep, paranoid. We all should be. After all, it wasn’t an American general that stated not too long ago that China would inevitably go to war with the United States.

      1. Dittos. I don’t think that anyone who is not a citizen or a registered permanent resident should be possessing firearms. This just opens the door for radical Islamic jihadists to fill their toolboxes under cover of our laws,

      2. There are facts and there is paranoia. You may be right but you have no factual basis for that assertion. This guy followed the law and was punished for it. Paranoia has killed and/or otherwise harmed a lot of people in our country. We cannot stand for it.

    11. And if he hadn’t had a friend videotaping him only using 20 rounders where would he be now? Most likely the judge would have believed the police officer and Yunsong Zhao would now be stuck in a prison cell with MS-13 gang members.

    12. Young man should’ve never been arrested. The cop that did this should be charged for his deliberate malfeasance, stripped of his citizenship, and deported for what he did, IMHO. But noooooooooooo……. we all gotta worship the red-and-blue gang, lick their jackboots and give thanks that WE weren’t thusly treated!!

      1. Common sense should have seen him deported immediately. But were fresh out of common sense in America.

    13. WE Scream against Illegal immigration and allow this to happen to a “Legal” immigrant. Following the law does not give one immunity from bad lawmen! I agree, the cop should be prosecuted!

    14. He did unnecessary time and wont be allowed back into our Country even though he did nothing wrong” Bunch of “Morons” With to much authority.

    15. I may step on some toes and start an argument but ; I do feel that the constitution applies to US citizens .
      That would also apply to all of the benefits handed out to illegals including welfare , social security , education , driver licenses , and voting rights !

        1. @ Oldvet I agree with you! The chance of another bloody day at a college MAY have been prevented. We don’t know but it is doubtful if he would be able to have this gun if he was in his home country. Americans have been subjected to much more when they go to another country and make a mistake.

          1. So, although he was obeying our laws, the fact that he MIGHT have had something in mind, and the fact that countries like his are unfair to Americans, is a good reason to throw him in jail for 9 months. Interesting thinking, endorsing punishment without any crime having been committed. Paranoia and inequities make this okay?

      1. The Constitution does apply to American citizens, but the right to self defense and ownership of means to defend oneself are universal.

        1. I back our guys in blue, but I don’t really trust them. The police are much maligned today with false accusations of police brutality and outright lies such as “hands up don’t shoot.” I support the police and respect the thankless job they do. But remember, its all about arrests and convictions. Also, they can lie to you, but you can’t lie to them. I understand that concept when they are investigating organized crime, a big time drug dealer, or someone for rape or murder. However, those questionable tactics are used in misdemeanors and petty crimes against law abiding citizens and poor students, such as Yunsong Zhao. Best advice is invoke your Fifth Amendment rights. Don’t say anything and they can’t trip you up or catch you in a lie. Look at what they did to General Flynn. Don’t ever talk to them without an attorney.

      2. The Constitution rightly applies to citizens and those who are here LAWFULLY. This man was here lawfully, thus the COnstittutioin applies. He comlied with every jot ant tittle of both federal and Virginia laws in regards his firearm purchase, possession, use….. and because of ONE dirty copper he wass falsely arrested and charged, at HUGE cost to himself. His intended career goals are now out of reach. The time and money he invested in his schooling is now gone. His right to be here temporarily as a student has vapourised, and he most likely will never be allowed back into this country.

        Now he’s been fully acquitted and exonerated, the high and mighty PoohBahs at VT need to extend him an invitation to return as a student, take up where he left off, anad complete the education he came here to get. Our Immigration folk need to restore his student visa, on conditioin he is cleared to return and reregister at VT or some other institutioin of higher learning. In short, restore him to where he was prior to his unjustified arrest.
        The evidence that this gung ho make a name for himself undercover dirty copper who followed him to the range and led to his arrest actually perjured himself in his testimony against this victim is VERY strong… I believe, strong enough to convict on perjury. We have a video showing his rifle contained ONLY 20 rounds. ONLY 20 round mags were found in his possession when searched. I’d subpoena the records of his phone, to be searched to verify that his battery ran down so he could not record the guy at the range. I’d also subpoena the student’s friends who were there with him and made their own video. Then bring back the transcript of the dirty copper’s testimony that he saw his victim use the 30 round mag…… proving what he said in the courtroom against his victim.

        That copper needs a felony bust for perjury, false arrest, Then the copper needs to serve the sentence his victimmWOULD have served had he been convicted. THAT would all be a beginning of true justice being served.
        This judge who “did not beleive” the dirty copper should be the one to initiate the above described action. Someone lying in HIS courtroom? I’d lock him up and toss the keys into the next steel scrap bulk freighter bound for China. Turn that key into a toaster or some such.

        This entire case has been a grave injustice from when I first read about it as it happened. HOW can we tolerate such abuse of the law and police power? This guy was a foreigner, temporarily here, and was badly mistreated. If HE, how not you and I?

      3. I too feel that the US Constitution should only apply to American citizens. However, it applies to legal and illegal aliens. It should not, but it does. For example, illegal aliens from Central America must be released into our country and have a hearing before a federal judge before they can be deported. Nonsense! Talk about immigration reform. We need to reform that law out of existence. Along with chain migration and anchor babies.

        1. Love that. “I feel …” Make a rational argument. SJWs
          make their decision based on how they “feel.” Madison and Jefferson believed natural rights apply to ALL people. Our Constitution is based on primarily on acceptance of natural rights, (eminent domain violates rights). If the Constitution is deemed to apply to citizens only (what about permanent residents?) the Constitution MUST apply to all who are subject to the Constitution and our laws.

    16. ” 20-year-old Chinese national, possessed an assault weapon that is allowed only for U.S. citizens or permanent residents was too flimsy to let a jury even consider a conviction” If the law states you must be a citizen or permanent resident to own one and he is/was not either of the two, Then he should have gone to trial. Looks like that judge needs to be removed.

      1. You misunderstood the situation. He was allowed to have the rifle, he just couldn’t place a 30 rnd mag INTO it. He, and his friends all said he knew that and only bought 20 rnd mags for that very reason. Someone watching him shoot, decided that it was a 30 rnd mag w/o inspecting it or counting shots and reported it. That was what got him in trouble and why the case was dismissed. There was NO proof that he owned a 30 rnd mag, the store he bought the rifle from stated that he’d traded the one it came with for a 20 rnd mag at time of purchase.

      2. Did you not read the article, or is comprehension an issue. The individual was legal in his actions, and worked to obey the law of the land he evidently enjoyed being a part of. After working as a LEO in a previous life I try to remember the honorable men I knew, but strangely the bad ones, such as the officer in question here, seem to stand out in my memory. It could have been ignorance on the part of the officer, but concerning law that is no excuse. Abusing the rights of others is no way to insure the rights of an individual, please take that thought away from this post, if nothing else.

    17. You guys need to add “Like” and “Don’t Like” or “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down” buttons within your comment section.

    18. NOT an “assault weapon” in ANY state, including the Communist Republic of Maryland…. Ahh the Maryland police, the ULTIMATE in corruption.

      1. tell that to the dweebs running Washington State. As of 1 January past, WNY semiautomatic weapon is an “assault weapon”.. even now my four Ruger 10/.23 rifles, all woth factory stock wood or plastic conventioinal stocks.

    19. Effing communist People’s Republic of Maryland. It should be avoided whenever possible by actual Americans.

      1. I wouldn’t go near that place. For any reason. Any time. Ever. (To quote Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 movie Wizard of Oz… “Not no way. Not no how.”)

    20. A couple of items stuck out in this story. The accused was tailed by an undercover officer? And, he was arrested because the undercover officer ‘thought’ he saw a 30 round magazine.? Folks in magazine size regulated states had better watch out, Big Brother is out there and he is just more than a character in a novel. This is an example of tyranny at its finest, and we thought NOKO was tough on our jailed visitors.

      1. the undercover officer ‘thought’ he saw a 30 round magazine.?

        Not quite. He testified under oath at the trial that he SAW the man use a 30 round mag, and also swore he would have taken video but his phone battery died.
        THIS dirty copper needs to be charged with felony perjury, stripped of his cop badge, and his guns, and serve the same sentence he tried to pile on to this innocent man. The judge did well to acquit, but s he declared he did not believe the testimony of the dirty copper, he SHOULD prosecute the lying dirtbag cop for his perjury, and also for contempt of HIS court. Might also have a look at OTHER cases where this cirty copper has spoken……. ALL of those should now be under suspcion.

        1. Yes. It should not be hard to get the time of the arrest or time that the cop should of been collecting video evidence. Then get the cops phone records and match that up to see if he used his phone right beforehand, during and right after the arrest.

        2. I agree in principle but not in procedurally. There appears to be strong evidence the cop committed perjury. The judge rightly dismissed the case. However, a judge can only recommend to the prosecuting attorney that an investigation be undertaken. Failure to prosecute falls at the feet of the chief prosecutor of that jurisdiction. Most of the time this is an elected office, sometimes it’s an appointed office. Political pressure needs to be applied to this elected official to initiate an action that the public sees as just. Judges should never be in a position to prosecute!

    21. Awful and ridiculous situation but if he was was some radical leftwing antics nut, they would love him but because he likes guns ad the 2nd Amendment, etc, etc, he is just this terrible super scary, dangerous person. WTF has happened to the U.S. Very, very disappointing what this place has become and this will NOT stop until we man up, get off the silly sofa and toss the stupid cell phone mess. What a shame.

    22. Sue the police department and the officer for every cent they have or ever will have. Teach the gun grabbers that it will NOT be tolerated for any reason!

    23. He never should have been in the US to begin with. The US is full we do not need immigrants of any kind.

      1. How many generations do you have to go through to find the immigrants that started your family tree in this country?

        1. I’ve got immigrants in my family starting in 1608 and all the way to the present generation, and one, back about 1820 or so, whose family had been here a few centuries already. EVERY ONE of them priductive integrated law abiding citizens.

          1. One came in 1820, but his family had been here for a few centuries? A few is at least 3, so the family would have came in or before 1520. Did they hitch a ride with Columbus?

      2. You should be ashamed of yourself. The US, as we know it, was formed by a bunch of people immigrating to a new land and stealing that land from the natives. Your heritage is not native either, don’t throw stones in your glass house.

        1. So let’s do the math. How many natives were there, and how many acres of land? My my, each native was a land baron in those days. According to you we “stole” a million acres from each native. Such bull shit. Why don’t you concern yourself with Amazon deforestation which is a present problem instead of picking at four hundred year old scabs.

        2. Hey, Sickened

          From whom did those “natives” as you call them purchase the land? As I understand it, they also immigrated to this country across the land bridge in Siberia. The settlers to the “new world”, the immigrants you refer to did not fight the natives. The land was plentiful and there was enough for all of them.

          Feel better, there’s no reason to be ill over this. Those who planted such negative thoughts into your head had an agenda. You don’t have to fall into their trap.

        1. What is RACIST about acknowledging that the US population is already high enough? You sound like a wacko liberal. They are always screaming about everyone being. RACIST. Maybe you should think about all of the pollution caused by such a high population. The fossil fuels wasted everyday because of traffic jams should be enough to give you fevered nightmares!

      3. You are against immigrants? Mallory is what, an Algonquin name? Mohawk? You must be an East Coast Amerindian I’ve never heard of.

        1. Aren’t you clever! Not. I am so bored with this silly leftist talking point. You guys need new material.

    24. And people really think crooked cops wont abuse ‘ Red Flag ‘ laws , or will uphold their oaths by refusing when ordered to ” Round Up All The Guns “

    25. What a travesty, luckily it sounds like he got a halfway decent judge, hopefully that police officer was fired, and I would love to see this man go after the officer, and anyone else.

        1. Wild Bill, Firing the cop isn’t much punishment, he should be tried for perjury and sent to jail. They should also go after the police chief who ordered the cop to tail the guy, make a public spectacle of him and point out the abuses that all citizens are subject to.

            1. True enough ,Joe Foam. Wild Bill is too crusty to settle for a simple firing, leaving the dirtbag copper to go find another department to corrupt. No, Wild Bill wants FULL justice…. the copper convicted of perjury, malfeasance, false arrest, and contempt of court, then serve the jail time he tried to foist upon this innocent man.. the one he tailed, probably on his own initiative.

              Firing would be a short vacation for this dirtbag. Far too kind. If this copper conducted himself thusly for this case, how many other innocents has he, or is he in the process of, framing? Not to be trusted, thus needs a custodian. And NO GUNS.

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