Honorably discharged U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran Elizabeth Elderli, 31, is one of the latest Americans to suffer the consequences of New York’s strict gun laws that the National Rifle Association (NRA) says is just the latest example for the need of a national reciprocity bill.
Elderli, a Houston resident, is the legal owner of a 9-mm and a .380-caliber handgun, that she was carrying, loaded; as she entered the security line at the September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan earlier this month. When she saw a sign prohibiting firearms, she informed security she was carrying two loaded weapons. She was arrested by the NYPD, and shortly after was arraigned for felony possession of a weapon. She now faces three-and-a-half to 15 years in prison. She’s due in court Aug. 28. Elderli’s attorney, Amy Bellantoni, of the Bellantoni Law Firm in Scarsdale, N.Y., did not return calls from the American Media Institute seeking comment and the New York City District Attorney’s office said in a written statement it does not comment on pending cases.
On July 14, 2013, a fifty-two-year-old Florida woman was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and could face up to 10 years in prison after being arrested in Jersey City while attempting to board a ferry to Ellis Island while carrying a gun.
On Sept. 20, 2013, a 24-year-old New Jersey man, an armed security guard and aspiring police officer was arrested, charged, convicted and this past June pardoned by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie after being pulled over and found to be carrying a loaded weapon in his car’s glove compartment.
These arrests are due to gun license reciprocity laws. Concealed-carry permits issued by the state of Texas, as in Elderli’s case, are recognized in the majority of states, but not in New York, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
According to research conducted by the American Media Institute, 37 states have firearm permit reciprocity agreements with at least one other state. Some states, such as Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, universally recognize any carry permit issued by any other state.
Lars Dalseide, public affairs media liaison with the National Rifle Association (NRA) said he’s all too familiar with these types of cases.
“People who don’t travel often assume the laws of their state apply to others. Stories like this highlight the need for a national reciprocity bill when it comes to firearm ownership, something the NRA is working on.”
Dalseide said a national reciprocity bill is important because people traveling across the country won’t have to fear they’re breaking the law by driving over an artificial line. “We need to come together and come up with a national standard, a law abiding gun owner should be a law abiding owner wherever they are. After all, it’s not as if Virginians need a New York license to drive in Manhattan, and driving isn’t a constitutional right.”
Ladd Everitt, director of communications with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in Washington, D.C., disagrees.
“Gun laws aren’t not solely geared at terrorists,” he said. “In the Elderli case, yes, she should be prosecuted.”
Everitt argues someone who visits a peaceful memorial with two loaded guns isn’t anyone’s definition of a responsible gun owner. “New York is among the safest states in the world, to bring a gun to a safe city is paranoid and a risk to everyone around that individual. When you break the law, you suffer the consequences of your actions.”
Allison Anderman, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, agrees.
Citing Elderli’s case she said, “if I were someone with a conceal carry permit and was traveling I’d check that state’s law prior to travel and if I don’t do that it brings into questions that gun owner’s responsibilities.”
Anderman said the center does not support a national reciprocity bill. “The type of reciprocity legislation that’s been introduced at the national level would bring the country down to the lowest denominator and would become the law of the land and that would be a dangerous prospect. Some states require very little training, education or background checks.”
Anderman said her organization recently rated New York as having the fifth strongest gun laws in the United States and in 2013; New York had the third lowest gun rate death in the country. Conversely, Texas ranked as having the 21st weakest gun laws in the country and in 2013, its gun rate death was 31st highest in the country.
“Those numbers demonstrate the stricter the gun laws, the lower the gun related deaths, that’s why we don’t want a national reciprocity law.”