Ohio concealed handgun license-holder charged for having gun in New York highlights need for passage of H.R. 822

by Chad D. Baus

WBNS, Columbus' CBS affiliate, is reporting that a central Ohio man was behind bars on Monday after he was charged with having a weapon in New York.

From the article:

Clintonville's Fred Vankirk was arrested Jan. 7 after police said they found 3 handguns in his New York City hotel room.

Vankirk, 59, is a licensed gun owner in Ohio, but the gun laws do not carry over to New York City, 10TV's Kevin Landers reported.

Vankirk was detained at the Manhattan detention center where he is held on $50,000 bond charged with felony criminal possession of a firearm.

Linda Walker, a member of the Buckeye Firearms Association which lobbies for gun laws in Ohio, said that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.

"This gentleman potentially could be looking at 15 to 45 years in New York for something totally lawful in Ohio," Walker said.

Veterinarian Ann Duffus said that she knows what it is like to feel the wrath of New York’s anti-gun laws.

Duffus said she was arrested at a New York airport after she took her gun to the counter to declare it . It was locked in a case and unloaded – required by federal law.

"I was like, 'You're going to arrest me for what?,'" Duffus said.

Duffus said it took her six months to get her case reduced to one of disorderly conduct.

"Don't go to the east coast, because they hate guns there," Duffus said.

In related coverage, New York City's Fox affiliate reported that Tennessee nurse Meredith Graves was arrested Dec. 22 after she tried to check her .32-caliber Kel-Tec pistol at the 9/11 Memorial, and that Indiana jeweler and third-generation Marine Ryan Jerome, 28, was nabbed after trying to check his .45 Ruger at the Empire State Building on Sept. 27. And a well-known Tea Party activist took a disorderly conduct plea deal today after he was arrested for handing over his unloaded gun to TSA security before getting on a flight at LaGuardia Airport last month.

The State of New York's position of denying so many people their right to self defense is outrageous. Having a firearm for self defense should not be a crime, much less a felony.

This incident and others like it highlight the need for U.S. Senate passage of H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act which has already been passed by the House.

H.R. 822, introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), allows any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm permit to carry a concealed firearm in any state that issues concealed firearm permits, or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms for lawful purposes.

Since the State of New York issues licenses (albeit few and far between, and usually only to rock stars, Hollywood actors, or billionaires), had H.R. 822 already been law, it would have kept Mr. Vankirk within his legal rights when traveling and staying in New York.

This bill does not affect existing state laws. State laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within each state's borders. H.R. 822 does not create a federal licensing system or impose federal standards on state permits; rather, it requires the states to recognize each others' carry permits, just as they recognize drivers' licenses and carry permits held by armored car guards.

In a recent press release about H.R. 822, Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, is quoted as saying "NRA has made the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act a priority because it enhances the fundamental right to self-defense guaranteed to all law-abiding people. People are not immune from crime when they cross state lines. That is why it is vital for them to be able to defend themselves and their loved ones should the need arise."

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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