Imagine you find yourself at a tourist destination carrying your handgun in accordance with your understanding of the law only to find a “No Firearms” sign. That’s what confronted a Texas woman and former Marine when she visited the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero.
Elizabeth Elderli never leaves her Houston home unarmed. So, when the 31-year-old former U.S. Marine visited Manhattan’s September 11 Memorial, two guns were in her backpack when she saw a “no firearms” sign at the security checkpoint.
Elderli told a police officer about the loaded 9-mm. and .380-caliber semi-automatic guns — both covered by her Texas-issued concealed weapons permit, which she believed was valid in New York, her attorney claims. But she quickly learned that the Empire State’s gun control laws bear no resemblance to those in effect back home. Elderli was arrested in the Saturday incident, charged with felony possession of a weapon and left facing 3 ½ to 15 years in prison.
“She did what every responsible gun owner would do,” her attorney, Amy Bellantoni, told FoxNews.com. “If she thought she was doing something wrong, she would have turned around and walked out.
“There’s absolutely no criminal intent here,” the lawyer added.
Elderli’s arrest is the latest in a string of cases involving out-of-state, gun-toting tourists arrested and charged in New York, which has among the nation’s toughest firearms laws. Gun control advocates say it is up to firearms owners to know the laws in jurisdictions they visit, and have little sympathy for people who carry guns in from states with less stringent laws. But the treatment of Elderli and other citizens underscores the serious consequences faced by a gun owner who abides by one state’s laws, but unwittingly breaks another’s.
A 52-year-old woman with a permit to carry a handgun in Florida was arrested last month in Jersey City, N.J., while trying to board a ferry to Ellis Island with her weapon. Elizabeth Griffith, of Daytona Beach, could face up to 10 years in prison for unlawful possession of a firearm. New Jersey also has strict handgun regulations.
Many gun control advocates argue that Elderli is responsible for the fix she’s in. Others may see it as evidence that something is needed to standardize concealed carry laws that vary from state to state and, in many cases, city to city.
What do you think? Should Congress get involved to prevent these kinds of misunderstandings, or is it better for the legislative branch to just stay out of it?