A former United States Marine was arrested in New York when he tried to enter the Empire State Building with a firearm. He wasn’t there to murder innocent civilians or to take hostages he simply thought that he was allowed to bring his firearm with him from Indiana because of information on New York’s gun laws that he read online. Sadly the information he read was wrong and it might cost him up to 15 years in prison for a very innocent mistake. This isn’t the first time that New York’s stringent gun laws have bitten tourists in the ass and unless the law changes it won’t be the last.
Ryan Jerome, 28, is licensed by the state of Indiana to carry a concealed firearm and has no criminal history. He was traveling to New York for business and was carrying about $15,000 dollars worth of jewelry that he planned to sell and he thought it would be a smart idea to take his gun with him. After reading up on the various laws online he came to the understanding that he was allowed to bring his firearm into the state. When he arrived at the Empire State building and was about to enter the security checkpoint he asked a security guard where he should check his firearm in. That’s right he outright told the security guard that he had a firearm. Security then proceeded to call the police who promptly arrested Jerome and tossed him in jail. Jerome spent two nights in jail but faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years.
Jerome hasn’t been indicted by a grand jury as of yet but if he is there won’t be much he can do according to his lawyer.
A Tennessee nurse, Meredith Graves, faces similar charges after she noticed a “no guns” sign at the World Trade Center site and asked where she could leave her weapon, only to face similar charges.
The law however wasn’t intended to punish tourists rather its to prevent law abiding New Yorkers from their second amendment right. Both of these people, with no criminal record, are now facing hard time for trying to be responsible with their firearms. They were not trying to hide their weapons from police or anyone else they were simply just asking where to put their weapons, a normal practice when you can’t bring a gun into a secure space. While both of these people were in clear violation of the law they didn’t know that they were and while it is the responsibility of the gun owner to check the law sometimes, as in Jerome’s case, the law isn’t clear to outsiders.
These issues are going to continue for tourists unless the law changes to tourists who were unknowingly violating the law. The mandatory minimum is a bit outrageous for a first offense especially for someone licensed in another state to carry a firearm. This also highlights the stupidity in state by state concealed carry laws and the need for an across the board solution that is in line with the Second Amendment. A 9mm is a 9mm in every state. You shouldn’t be punished just because you cross into another city or state with your LEGAL firearm. Why are we wasting our time with making criminals out of people who have a clean record when we should be tracking down the thugs who aren’t legally allowed to own a firearm? In most states these cases would not be prosecuted but New York City, New Jersey and California seem determined to punish gun owners for no real reason. Hopefully the prosecutor(s) in charge of these cases decide that these people shouldn’t serve time and lose the right to carry a firearm forever.
The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 (H.R. 822) aims eliminate confusion by requiring states to recognize one another’s concealed carry permits the same way they recognize one another’s driver’s licenses, eliminating problems for traveling gun owners. It has passed the House of Representatives but is currently stalled in the Senate.