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Visitors face felony charges on innocent gun violations

On Behalf of | Aug 12, 2015 | Felonies |

New York state’s gun control laws are downright unfriendly to visitors from other states that have a more liberal concealed gun policy. For example, one former Marine from another state was arrested when trying to enter the Sept. 11 Memorial with two licensed guns in her backpack. She reported the guns to the security staff, but they arrested her on the spot for felony charges under the state gun laws. She found herself facing 3 ½ to 15 years in prison for doing something perfectly legal in her own state.

There is a critical flaw in the policy of New York law enforcement to prosecute out-of-state visitors for gun violations that don’t exist in the state from which they come. That flaw is that the gun holder has no criminal intent to violate the law or to commit a harmful offense. Serious criminal statutes generally must have mens rea, or criminal intent, as a requisite to being found guilty.

In the foregoing example, the former marine reported the guns when she saw a sign that said no firearms. She was rewarded for good citizen behavior by being unceremoniously arrested instead of simply being asked to check her guns. That woman’s example is only one of many. Another man was arrested for trying in good faith to check his gun at the Empire State Building. He ended up with a criminal record.

Criminal defense attorneys also criticize the heartless way in which the New York gun laws are enforced against visitors who believe that they are doing nothing wrong and who have no criminal intent.  It may be that one of these individuals will have to appeal to a higher court to receive justice from this kind of blind enforcement of seemingly unfair felony charges. One curious question that seems to arise is why New York is not giving full faith and credit to the laws of other states for this type of common sense situation.

Source: foxnews.com, “Honest mistakes: Tourists face jail time for declaring legal handguns at NYC landmarks”, Cristina Corbin, Aug. 6, 2015


Law Offices of Joseph J. Tock