This past week, while driving from South Carolina to a gun show in Stamford, CT, legendary rifle builder Kenny Jarrett attempted to light a cigar, and during his momentary lapse in concentration, his SUV ran onto the rumble strip edging the interstate. No sooner did he get the wandering vehicle under control than there was a Delaware state trooper behind him, signaling him to pull over.

They did the license and registration dance, and Kenny explained that he problem was due to an $8 cigar, and then the trooper asked the magic question:

“Do you have any firearms in the vehicle?”

Kenny, who had under a dozen rifles cased in the back, allowed as how he did, and showed off his copious paperwork to the minion of the law, and everything was more or less copacetic until another trooper, a female one, pulled up. She demanded that Kenny and his wife lean against the SUV and patted them down for concealed weapons, or maybe Cuban cigars.

Kenny happened to look behind him at this point and saw that there were eight—count ‘em, eight—Delaware state police cars pulled over on the shoulder, hoping that they would get to shoot someone and be famous like the New York City police.

(Now at this point it’s appropriate to wonder how many cases of road rage, how many drunks, and out-of-control speeders went tooling by as all these troopers congregated to subdue a guy who tried to light a cigar. I’d also like to know what kind of radio call call went out. “All units respond, man with guns and cigar, come Code Two.”)

The upshot (as it was) was Kenny was given a $130 summons, and told that if he didn’t pay within 30 days it would be forwarded to the South Carolina DMV which would revoke his license.

I pointed out to Kenny that he was lucky. If he had been pulled over in New Jersey he would have been shot to death on the spot.

To end this rant on a positive note, let me dispense with some advice:
If you are driving through the northeastern states, obey all firearms-transportation laws (It won’t help; most cops don’t know what they are, but I’m supposed to say this), do nothing to attract attention to yourself, and have a lawyer with you at all times.

Also, do not attempt to light a cigar.