Monday, January 2, 2012
- Meredith Graves, Meet Mike Bloomberg
The laws concerning concealed carry of a firearm are a jumble, and there has been some very timely confusion of this issue recently. While a law which will use federal authority to 'force' states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states is working it's way through the congress, a pretty 39 year old medical student from Tennesee has been arrested for trying to check her legally owned firearm while visiting the 9-11 memorial.
In New Jersey, where it is expressly illegal to be in possession of a firearm except under very limited and specifically defined circumstances, we in the firearms community have no choice but to have an understanding of the law. What's more, the laws were written to be ambiguous - giving maximum legal flexibility to the arresting officer and prosecuting attorney. So we not only need to know the law, but we need to know how the law is 'likely' to be enforced.
But in the rest of the country that isn't the case at all. In fact, in the vast majority of the United States they feel that 'shall not be infringed' actually means what it says, and that law enforcement is there to protect the law abiding, not punish them. The Net result is that a great many firearm owners who live in other parts of the country don't realize that in this part of the country, firearms are almost completely illegal.
Meredith Graves didn't know it. And because this obviously law abiding woman wasn't a better lawyer and more familiar with the various ins and outs of New York City's laws concerning firearm ownership, she's very likely going to spend three plus years in the NY penitentiary system.
Personally, I tend to view stories like this with suspicion. Ms. Graves is an attractive woman who was so obviously without criminal intent that even anti-gun politicians in New York are saying so. As such, I think she'll illicit much sympathy from a jury. And she'll also make an appealing example of someone being unjustly treated by the current law - underlining the need for the new concealed carry reciprocity act. This was all so obvious that I instantly suspected a setup.
But facing three years in prison if convicted is a big chance to take to prove a point. And after hearing how she tried to check her gun before going into the memorial, I tend to believe that she was just a foolish woman who was under the mistaken impression that law enforcement in the greater New York City area is there to protect people like her.
The map of above indicates that NY, NJ, California and a few others all fall under the description of 'may issue' with regard to carry permits. The long and short of that is that's it's at the discretion of the issuing authority, whether you are allowed to carry a concealed firearm. In New York City, that means that you must be famous, well connected politically, or be a big political contributor. In New Jersey it's simply a disguise for a procedural ban.
But if the concealed carry reciprocity act goes through (and I'm hearing that it may actually do just that), then in a place like New Jersey where no permits are ever issued, people from other states will be able to carry their firearms here, while New Jersey citizens will not. So it will be a great way to pressure the local legislature.
Bloomberg and the few remaining anti-gun politicians out there are on the losing side of history. The law will change eventually, I'm convinced of it. The only question now is, will it change fast enough to keep Meredith Graves out of prison.