Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reciprocity: A Story of Gun Laws in NY

Picture this: you’re driving along without a care in the world and suddenly you see flashing blue and white lights behind you. It’s the police pulling you over. You roll down the window and politely ask the Officer what the problem is, and he informs you he caught you speeding, 60 mph in a 45 zone. He takes your information, gives you a ticket and promptly drives away. You just got caught breaking the law, and all you have to show for it is a fine to pay the county.
Admittedly, you’re asking “what’s the big deal? I was just speeding.” and you’re right, speeding is not high on the list of worst crimes to commit, but by going over that posted limit, you have in fact broken the law. Driving offenses rank at the top of law violations in the country, and there are much worse cases to describe. What happens when you get issued a DUI? A DUI sits on your record forever, and can do extreme damage when looking for a job. But in the end, you can still get your license to drive back after a DUI infraction.
And this is where I want to contrast the world of gun laws. If ever I’ve seen black and white in the law, it’s when dealing with firearms. I have an example of what happens when you nonchalantly violate a firearms law. Now, this story happened in the State of New York, a state which is notorious for its laws concerning firearms. Case in Point: If you look in the New York Code concerning loaded firearms you will see this statement: “ ‘Loaded firearm’ means any firearm loaded with ammunition or any firearm which is possessed by one who, at the same time, possesses a quantity of ammunition which may be used to discharge such firearm.’ your gun doesn’t even have to have bullets in it to be considered “loaded”. Pretty harsh.
So let’s look at our first story, about a Marine by the name of Ryan Jerome. Ryan, a resident of Indiana, was visiting New York City, and had his pistol with him. He possessed a valid concealed carry permit in Indiana, so he thought there wouldn’t be a problem in New York. Upon his arrival at the Empire State Building for a visit, he saw a “no guns” sign, and walked right up to security to check his firearm. Like a flash of lightning, security called the police and Ryan Jerome found himself in a New York City jail with the threat of a felony charge hanging over him. 
As of the writing of this post, no charges have officially been made against Mr. Jerome. The District Attorney’s office has been pressured from both NYC council members and the public alike to let Ryan Jerome walk away. But what if that were you and me? I guarantee you that had I tried to check a firearm at the Empire State Building security desk, my court date would be solid as rock, and my rights to firearm ownership would be gone forever. Once convicted of a felony, you lose any right to own any type of firearm. It’s possible I could face up to 15 years in prison for what seems like such a simple mistake.
Had Mr. Jerome taken even a cursory look at New York State firearms laws, he would see immediately that taking a firearm there is a bad idea. New York is one of two states which has no reciprocity for concealed firearms permit holders. It doesn’t matter where you come from, New York will not allow you to carry your firearm.
This is just one example of a firearms law, and what it means when you break it. You don’t get a fine, you don’t lose your privileges for a short time, you lose your right to own a firearm. I’m not here to argue for less strict laws, I’m here to tell people that there can’t be a question in your mind about your firearm when you walk out your door.
Firearms owners can be portrayed as backwards people who break laws left and right. Maybe that is the case for some, but for the majority of firearms owners, especially those who conceal carry a firearm everyday, knowing any and every law associated with that gun is essential.
Take a moment and think about all the laws you violate on a regular basis and imagine what it would be like if you lost something important to you because you weren’t thinking about it at the time.

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