Gun Laws & Legislation

TheDC’s top 2012 stories, part 5: The ‘Guns and Food Stamps’ edition

Every day this week The Daily Caller is inviting you to relive two of our most compelling moments from 2012. These stories might have made you angry or gleeful, or maybe they led you to poke your spouse in the ribs and say, “See, I told you so!” (RELATED: Part 4: The ‘That’s Embarrassing!’ edition)

But however you reacted, they met our number-one test for publication: They were interesting. (RELATED: Part 3: The “Race Politics” edition)

Today we revisit a story that made Second Amendment advocates sit up and take notice, and one that changed the way we looked at the federal government’s push to hand out as many food-stamp benefits as humanly possible.

Marine faces 15 years behind bars for unknowingly violating gun law

It’s not every day that a business trip to the Big Apple turns into a nightmare on Riker’s Island, but a U.S. Marine found out the hard way that under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, even well-meaning servicemen and women can’t risk carrying a handgun in New York City.

Ryan Jerome had a licensed fireram in his native Indiana, and he believed his concealed-carry permit would be honored in the Empire State when he traveled there to sell $15,000 worth of jewelry. Criminals carry guns in New York City every day, but when this Marine asked a security officer at the Empire State Building where he should check his gun, the police came running and he spent the next two days in jail:

The 28-year-old with no criminal history now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three and a half years in prison. If convicted, his sentence could be as high as fifteen years. …

“If he does get indicted, and they want to give him something less, then the legal minimum would be two years,” noted Mark Bederow, Jerome’s attorney. “They couldn’t even offer less if they wanted to.”

Jerome isn’t the first out-of-state visitor to volunteer that they had a gun, only to be put through the wringer. In December, Tennessee nurse Meredith Graves noticed a “no guns” sign at the World Trade Center site and asked where she could leave her weapon, only to face similar charges.

Also in December, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler was arrested after attempting to check a pistol — for which he has a California concealed carry permit — at a New York airport.

Ultimately, Jerome pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor weapons-possession crime instead of the felony he was facing. He agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and perform 10 hours of community service in Indiana.

“I definitely did not know it was illegal to bring a gun into New York City,” he told The New York Times after his sentencing.

While ignorance of the law is never a good defense, gun-rights advocates went ballistic over the case, arguing that New York should grant leeway to law-abiding citizens who try to do the right thing.

“The law is not equipped to deal with these situations, and they happen all the time,” Bederow told TheDC in January.