Some of New York’s most strident gun control advocates have rushed to the defense of an unwitting traveler who was arrested at an airport for a technical violation of a draconian gun law. Has a new era of sanity arrived in the Big Apple? Not really. This defendant happens to be an NYPD officer who is alleged to have violated India’s strict firearm regulations.
On March 10th, NYPD Officer Manny Encarnacion was arrested when officials at the airport in New Delhi discovered three rounds of ammunition in his baggage. New York City’s NBC affiliate reports that Encarnacion had been to the shooting range before his trip and put three rounds into a jacket pocket. Encarnacion later packed that jacket, forgetting that it contained the ammunition. Since his arrest, he has not been allowed to leave India and faces charges that could land him seven years in prison.
Encarnacion’s detainment has turned into somewhat of an international incident between officials in New York and India. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed support for the officer and suggested that the Indian government may have had an ulterior reason for the arrest. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he states, “This excessive act by the Indian government is clearly politically motivated,” and alleges that the incident is retaliation for the December 2013 arrest of an Indian official in New York. The New York Daily News reports that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has also lent his support to the stranded officer, remarking, “I would hope that India, a country that we have a good relationship with, would not stoop to the petty level of making a political pawn of this decorated NYPD cop and veteran.”
These three staunch gun control proponents apparently don’t have a highly-developed sense of irony or of their own breathtaking hypocrisy. New York City has been engaged in a longstanding effort to persecute travelers that mistakenly violate the City’s unusually harsh firearm laws or commit the “offense” of believing an out-of-state permit will be recognized in New York. These visitors often face a felony charge that mandates a minimum three and a half year sentence if convicted. The persecution of these peaceful and otherwise law-abiding persons who, like Encarnacion, pose no threat to public safety, is entirely politically motivated.
Year after year, dozens of travelers unfamiliar with New York’s byzantine gun laws have been arrested at New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, even when complying with a federal law designed to protect those lawfully transporting unloaded firearms. The City is aware of the federal law, but treats it as an “affirmative defense” to be raised before a court. In other words, the attitude of the mayor and police department for those who stand on their rights under the federal law is to arrest them for technical violations of local regulations and then let the accused, “Tell it to the judge.” Even if the case is later dismissed, as it often is, the traveler is still subjected to an embarrassing, inconvenient, intimidating, and expensive ordeal.
A June 9, 2013 New York Times article cites a number of incidents where overzealous enforcement at New York’s airports has ensnared travelers, ranging from the case of a military wife and mother to that of a professional football player. Martin D. Kane, a defense attorney who has handled these types of cases described for the Times the treatment a mistaken traveler can expect, stating, “They’re locked up the same as anybody else on any other felony charge… . People’s lives are really, really disrupted, as you can imagine.”