Spending 30 hours behind bars in New York City taught a local businessman that carrying a Colorado-approved gun is not necessarily legal everywhere. Instead of coming home on Wednesday, Dustin Forsling was jailed and lost his gun while his wife, Kim, waited.
It is all because of a difference in laws from state to state. Even though it is legal to carry guns with a permit in most states, you have to hold an additional license to do so in New York City. Dustin didn’t know that and he is not the first one.
Needless to say, the past few days have been nothing short of a nightmare for the couple. “They did handcuff him right there,” Kim explained during a telephone interview on Thursday. “[His] hands behind his back at the ticket counter.”
Dustin has a permit to carry his gun in Colorado and he’s never had a problem flying with it. In fact, the trip from Grand Junction to New York went off without a hitch. “We declared that we were checking a concealed weapon and we brought it in to New York,” Kim said.
On the plane, Kim checked New York’s law, just to be safe. She said she found out that it was not legal to carry a firearm in the city without the license that her husband did not have. “So, we figured we would just leave it locked in it’s case. We didn’t take it out during the entire trip.”
But, as the couple prepared to leave New York City on Wednesday morning, Dustin was stopped by the NYPD at LaGuardia Airport. “I can’t figure, really, what he got arrested for,” Kim said.
Dustin was taken away and booked into jail. Less than 24 hours later, after a terrible night of wondering what was happening to her husband, Kim heard from Dustin. “He called me at 7:00 [Thursday] morning asking me to please try to get him out,” she said. “He hasn’t seen anybody, he’s been sitting in there with 20 other guys. There are no beds. He’s only been given a glass of milk and some stale bread.”
It turns out that in order to have a gun in New York City, you must have a special license issued by the city. It costs more than $100 and only allows you to carry a weapon for certain things and at certain times. Breaking that law, if you are convicted, could put you behind bars for at least 3.5 years and up to 15 years.
Police officers arrested Dustin for breaking New York City’s Administrative Code: Title 10, Chapter 3 which states he, as a non-resident in transit, failed to notify the proper authorities that he was carrying a concealed weapon in the state in accordance with the laws of his place of residence. It had nothing to do with concealed weapon permits.
“Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and a permit outside of the state is not an excuse,” New York City defense lawyer and former Manhattan prosecutor Jeremy Saland said during a telephone interview.
Saland, who works for the Crotty and Saland Law Firm, says he has defended many of these cases in the city and that the law is clear. “If you’re in ‘state number one’ that permits the firearm and recognizes the firearm, ‘state number two’ doesn’t, but ‘state three’ does, when you travel through from one, two, to three, at some point, you’re committing a crime.”
But, Saland says Dustin’s situation is part of a much larger issue with gun control. It is a fight in court that continues to pit federal law against state and city law. “There is litigation as to what happens when you go into state number two and commit a crime there, whereas in state number one and state number three you’re doing nothing wrong.”
For Dustin, the arrest brought a lot of uncertainty not only about his future, but that of his business – Mountain Valley Pawn Shop. “Any kind of felony against my husband, any thing, we will lose our Federal Firearms License,” Kim said. “It took eight months to get that and it’s our livelihood. It’s the key to our shop.”
Luckily for Dustin, that bullet was dodged when the area District Attorney’s Office agreed to let him plead to a lesser charge of Disorderly Conduct and pay a $270 fine.
“If you’re trying to do it the correct way and you have no criminal record, the DA’s office here is generally understanding,” Saland explained. “Sometimes they’ll offer that lesser charge.”
Dustin spent a total of 30 hours in jail and was not given his $500 gun back. In the meantime, he and his wife missed two flights and spent hundreds of dollars to stay an extra few nights while the court case panned out.
The couple plans to return to Grand Junction on Friday, but they have already missed their son’s pre-school graduation that was earlier this week.
Saland told us that this all could have been avoided. He suggests to anyone that plans to travel to a different state with a concealed weapon, that they check that state’s law first. “Plug it into Google real quick, that is the best thing to do because the airlines aren’t going to tell you what the law is. That’s not their responsibility.”
Meanwhile, Dustin says he is not going to sit back and watch others get punished for this ‘misunderstanding.’ He has talked to the NRA and says he’s going to ‘fight it all the way.’ “Maybe a little guy like myself can make a difference.”
Originally posted on KJCT8