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Free Meredith Graves

By now you’ve all heard the story of the woman from Tennessee who made the unfortunate mistake of believing that New York City was part of America. I am late to this story, largely because I wanted to gauge the reaction, and think about how to use this story for the greater good. There’s now a Facebook group dedicated to freeing Meredith Graves. Amazingly, some New York politicians are speaking of changing the law:

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat whose district includes the 9/11 Memorial, wants to hold hearings on how New York City’s stringent gun laws are being enforced. Silver wants to find out if changes to the law need to be made.

We already have a proposed change to this law, and Mayor Mike is fighting it every step of the way. Perhaps a solution is to tell Hizzoner to withdraw his snout from other people’s business, and back off opposition to HR822. This problem will be easily remedied with HR822.

I think this woman is an excellent poster child for what’s wrong with how we’re treating a constitutional right in this country. We should rally behind her. It puts our opponents in the awkward position of having to explain how justice and public good are served by throwing a felony charge at a woman who is no threat to society. Their reaction will expose them for the extremists that they indeed are. Let us lead them there.

UPDATE: Over at NRO’s The Corner, Robert VerBruggen thinks this is a states rights issue. States rights is generally code word for states being able to flout their obligations under the 14th amendment not to “make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” So I strongly disagree. This is a federal issue and Congress is within its Section 5 powers to protect the exercise of this right from state and local interference.

UPDATE: Bloomberg libeled her by suggesting she had cocaine. According to Graves she had a crushed up aspirin in her purse she took for migraines. People like Bloomberg really shouldn’t be trusted to wield the power the voters have given them.

33 Responses to “Free Meredith Graves”

  1. dannytheman says:

    What I want everyone to know is that Bloomberg broke news that the cops found cocaine in her pocketbook after she was arrested! He did not say alleged cocaine, he said, cops found cocaine. The tests came back from the lab, NO cocaine! He is a rat bastard of the highest level of rat bastards!! He directly prejudged this woman’s character to continue to push his anti gun position.

    We needed a NY poster child and I hope this woman has what it takes! I hope she wins and then sues Mayor Mike for defamation of character and emotional stress!!

    I am also not sending any money to an anonymous facebook group! I will write a healthy check to SAF, or NRA if it is directly used to exonerate Ms. Graves. (Also I am not a Facebook member.

  2. Billll says:

    Anything else notwithstanding, the lady will be a convicted felon in New York, thus losing her right to own a gun or vote anywhere in the country, right?

    • Unfortunately, yes she will be convicted. The law in NYC is pretty clear, and it is aggressively enforced from what I hear.

      • Zermoid says:

        It is a New York CITY law, not a NY State law, correct?

        So the State, or the Governor, should have the authority to change or override that, right?

        At the very least the Governor should be able to pardon her, right?

        • Sebastian says:

          Probably both are at issue here. But I believe the Governor could pardon her. But the Governor is Andrew Cuomo, who orchestrated the Smith & Wesson deal under the Clinton Administration.

          • Zermoid says:

            I would assume she can say goodbye to a career as a doctor as well? I wouldn’t think you could be a doctor with a felony conviction…….

            She really asked the wrong question at the WRONG time. (and place)

    • Nik says:

      She’ll also most likely lose her nursing license, if convicted — and will not be able to get a medical license. Most states won’t issue professional licenses to convicted felons. I’d almost anticipate that the first recommendation from a lawyer is going to be to try to resolve this via plea bargain, to some lesser charge, that won’t affect her professional licensure.

  3. FYI: Powdered aspirin is pretty popular in the South. The Goody’s Headache Powder brand is advertised heavily, including a NASCAR sponsorship. Folks seem to think it works faster than a tablet, but it tastes horrible.

    • David Disharoon says:

      AND you should check out BC Headache Powders on Wiki. An old, traditional remedy originating from Germany. Originally sold in Memphis. Widely sold throughout the South. Smith, Glaxca … can’t be stupid!

  4. JimB says:

    Don’t count on Silver. He’ll just “investigating” until this blows over and everyone forgets about Meridith. We need the provisions of HR822 to be made into law.

  5. Sebastian says:

    If the antis are smart, they’ll drop this. This isn’t good ground for them to fight on. Offer a plea for a minor charge and let her go home.

  6. Ronnie says:

    New York and New Jersey are basically no-go zones for outsiders who legally carry guns, or even pocket knives actually, in their home states.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’m pretty sure you can carry most pocket knives in New Jersey. Their knife laws are similar to Pennsylvania, unlike their gun laws.

      • Ronnie says:

        No, Sebastian, not really, and you could not be more wrong about the laws on pocketknives in New Jersey and New York.

        Pennsylvania law Pa. C.S.A. 18.908 states that it is a misdemeanor offense to possess what it terms as a “prohibited offensive weapon,” which has not been applied to the possession of common knives such as Swiss Army knives, and other small pocketknives, in Pennsylvania case law.

        In stark contrast to Pennsylvania, New Jersey has a 2C:39-5 statute, which states that the possession of any other weapon not covered under other New Jersey statutes, which would include even the tiniest of pocketknives, must be “manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have,” to be legal, otherwise it is a 4th degree indictable offense, which would be considered a felony in other states.

        So, what does the “manifestly appropriate” part of the New Jersey 2C:39-5 statute mean? Almost anything a cop or a prosecutor in New Jersey wants it to mean, basically. See this link for more details:

        Here’s your Boy Scout knife, and here are the handcuffs

        Also in stark contrast to Pennsylvania, New York has had its “Sullivan Act” on the books since 1911, which in addition to making New York a “may issue” state for concealed handgun permits, also makes it a felony to possess a “dangerous knife” or razor “with intent to use the same unlawfully.” This vague law could be, and undoubtedly has been, interpreted to mean anything that cops and prosecutors in New York have wanted it to mean to suit their own purposes.

        It’s like I have stated above – New Jersey and New York are basically no-go zones for those of us who want to legally carry our guns and/or smaller-sized pocketknives, without having to worry much, like we can in Pennsylvania and other “greater freedom” states. (I know that Delaware and Maryland have weapons laws which specifically make exemptions for small pocketknife possession.) The “shall not be infringed” part of the Second Amendment does not seem to mean much of anything in either New York or New Jersey when it comes to each respective state’s overly broad and vaguely-worded laws on guns and knives.

        • Sebastian says:

          How do the courts in New Jersey generally treat this? I mean, you can point to a few cases where the police try to take something too far… but what do the courts generally have to say? In the end, that’s ultimately what matters.

          • I’ve carried a (modern, locking, one-handed, pocket-clipped) pocket knife in New jersey every day for over a decade. And before I got into guns, I was into the knife communities pretty hard. And I’ve never heard of any NJ jurisdiction aggressively prosecuting for pocket knife carry.

            Is it a problem that our law is so vague? Sure. Is it something a visitor reasonably has to worry about? It doesn’t look that way to me. It’ll never come up unless you get into a situation where the cop wants to charge you with everything he can think of. And in that case, you’re boned with or without a knife.

            • Ronnie says:

              Sebastian: What usually happens when somebody gets arrested in New Jersey on a 2C:39-5 charge for possessing some rinky-dink common pocketknife is that the county prosecutor will eventually decline to indict the offender.

              Instead of it ending there, the township where the arrest was made then usually prosecutes the offender on a downgraded “disorderly persons” charge in municipal court. If the offender goes to trial, the municipal court judge decides on the verdict – there is no jury. Never mind the fact that the wording of the disorderly persons offense law in New Jersey will most likely not even fit in with the facts surrounding the circumstances of your arrest for that rinky-dink pocketknife in the first place.

              Is any of this constitutional? I would say no, but I have also been told by several lawyers who practice in New Jersey that municipal court judges almost never acquit defendants no matter what is said or done, since the fines which these judges impose go directly into the township’s coffers. Municipal courts in New Jersey are really nothing but money mills for their respective townships – this is what I have been told by quite a few people, and I am inclined to believe this. I have been to district court in Pennsylvania twice before myself, and I never got that same impression overall. New Jersey municipal courts seem like what I would call “soft tyranny” as far as I am concerned.

              elmo: You are carrying that pocketknife of yours in New Jersey at your own peril. It’s just like what Evan Nappen has said about how New Jersey treats its legal gun owners. Knife owners in New Jersey are really no better off.

              All it will take is just one cop who decides to act like an asshole with you for whatever reason it might be. Maybe that cop will take offense at those pro-gun bumper stickers on your vehicle and then pull you over for some dubious reason. It could be anything, really.

              Then you will have to resolve yourself to spending thousands of dollars in legal fees to take your case from a municipal court, then all the way up to an appellate court, that is, if you truly wish to be fully exonerated. Otherwise, you will have to just plead guilty to a disorderly persons offense and pay the fine, court costs, and a surcharge to the violent crime victim’s compensation fund, never mind the fact that you did not do anything violent on that day back when you were arrested for a pocketknife that probably only cost you ten or twenty dollars. New Jersey is just so corrupt like that.

              • [shrug] And I could get hit by a bus. I keep my nose clean, don’t hang out in dubious places, generally avoid the NJ cities entirely, and know how to talk to cops. I’m not going to hide in my house over the chance of dying in a traffic accident, and I’m certainly not going to panic over the nigh microscopic “peril” of having to pay a fine for carrying a pocket knife.

                NJ’s banned-unless-allowed law is vague, unjust, and unconstitutional, I agree, but it’s just not something that touches on the real lives of the enormous majority of NJ knife carriers.

                …for a pocketknife that probably only cost you ten or twenty dollars.

                Now that, I say now that, my good man, is an insult I shall not countenance! You impugn the honor of my Spyderco Caly 3 at your peril! ;)

                • Ronnie says:

                  Elmo, your last response sort of flustered me. So, this is what I did – I just had an online chat with a family friend who is a retired New Jersey cop and now lives in Pennsylvania. I asked him to explain the deal with the law on pocketknives in New Jersey, and this is what I can relate based upon what he said:

                  Let’s say for the sake of argument that you are a licensed electrical contractor in New Jersey. When you are at work on your job site, or traveling to and from that job site in your work van, these would be circumstances which are “manifestly appropriate” for you to possess a utility knife or a pocketknife in public places. A cop in New Jersey would not have just cause to arrest you for this knife during a pedestrian stop or a motor vehicle stop.

                  Now, if you were to walk down some street in New Jersey with that same knife in your pocket 24/7/365, at times when you are not working, or traveling to or from work, then this would not be a “manifestly appropriate” circumstance as such, and this would result in your arrest if you were ever stopped and frisked by a cop.

                  If you want to be legal to publicly carry a pocketknife in New Jersey for a non-work-related purpose, then you had better be engaged in some type of legal activity such as fishing, camping, hunting, or some other legal activity which would normally require a knife, because these would also be circumstances which are “manifestly appropriate” for the possession of a pocketknife. In contrast, if you were to carry a pocketknife on your person in New Jersey during your next trip to a store, then this would not be such a “manifestly appropriate” circumstance as such, and this will also result in your arrest if a cop were to stop and frisk you as you walked there, or if a cop stopped your vehicle as you were driving there and your pocketknife was clearly visible on the passenger seat. It will not matter if you tell the cop anything about your self-defense needs, or that you use your knife for innocent tasks such as opening your mail. Those handcuffs are still going on you.

                  So Elmo, this is what I meant when I stated above that you have been carrying that pocketknife of yours in New Jersey at your own peril for all of those years. It will not matter that your pocketknife is a Spyderco Caly 3 and cost 100+ bucks, or if it was made in China, came from the camping section of Walmart, and cost one buck plus tax – you will get arrested all the same if your possession of said pocketknife at that time is deemed to not be “manifestly appropriate” by some cop. You will lose that pricey Spyderco pocketknife forever, you will likely have to make multiple court appearances, and you will likely have to pay hundreds, if not thousand of dollars, all for the “privilege” of being arrested for having that little pocketknife clipped inside your front pocket when it was deemed not “manifestly appropriate” according to New Jersey’s unconstitutional law on knives.

                  The only reason that I would venture to guess that New Jersey’s overly broad, arbitrary, and capricious legal approach to public pocketknife possession is “not something that touches on the real lives of the enormous majority of NJ knife carriers” is simply because not enough of them have actually been arrested on the 2C:39-5d charge yet. Those overpaid cops in many of those New Jersey townships probably still have better things to hassle people over, right?

                  As for me, these European-style knife laws in New Jersey are still enough of an issue that I and my hard-earned money will go to either Rehoboth, Delaware or Ocean City, Maryland, instead of the Jersey Shore, whenever the next time comes that I decide to take a summer beach vacation. There is simply no worry in either one of those states for some cop on a boardwalk to arrest me just because I was observed walking along with a small lockback pocketknife clipped to the inside of the front pocket on my cargo shorts. In New Jersey, my vacation could easily take a turn for the worst in this very same scenario. No thanks, I’ll pass on that one. Whatever extra driving distance there is will certainly be worth it to me.

                • The only reason that I would venture to guess that New Jersey’s overly broad, arbitrary, and capricious legal approach to public pocketknife possession is “not something that touches on the real lives of the enormous majority of NJ knife carriers” is simply because not enough of them have actually been arrested on the 2C:39-5d charge yet.

                  Exactly. I don’t doubt that it has happened, but it certainly isn’t routine. Sebastian asked how the law is actually enforced in this state, not for the worst case hypothetical, and the answer is that normal people regularly carry pocket knives without fear, and prosecutions such as you describe seem to be quite rare. I’ve never been “stopped and frisked”, and I don’t drive around with a knife on my passenger seat.

                  Maybe it’s a bigger issue for people who swagger around Seaside Heights half-hammered in a tank top. Maybe it’s an issue for people who go clubbing in Camden or Jersey City. But for normal people going about a normal lifestyle, I’ve never, ever heard of it even coming up. You’re saying it’s possible to get screwed if I happen to attract the attention of the kind of corrupt cop you describe when he’s having a bad day and wants to screw somebody, and I’m not disagreeing with you. But that wasn’t the question. We’re looking at whether a meaningful portion of NJ’s nine million people has been treated as you describe, not at whether it has happened.

                  By all means, avoid the state. It’s expensive and oppressive in more ways than weapons policy, and I’m not going to try to be a commercial for NJ tourism. But for somebody who lives or works here (like Sebastian and me), the risk of your worst-case actually happening is low enough for a person to reasonably decide that being without a pocket knife every day is a greater burden.

                • But that wasn’t the question. We’re looking at whether a meaningful portion of NJ’s nine million people has been treated as you describe, not at whether it has happened.

                  Ah, my apologies, Ronnie; I just read back (as I should have done _before_ commenting), and saw that Sebastian was in fact asking about the courts, not about numbers of prosecutions. For his question, your reply was indeed the relevant one, and mine was off topic. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  7. Andy says:

    She will get off one way or another. No intent to the break the law was shown, and intent is required for a conviction. Plus this looks really, really bad now for Bloomberg and NYC. They’d probably prefer this go away as quietly as possible.

    • Sebastian says:

      You’re confusing intent with mens rea, or “guilty mind.” There was a previous gentleman who was acquitted by a New York jury of gun possession because his defense was that he was not aware he had the firearm in his glove box. Generally speaking, you have to be in knowing possession to be guilty.

      This woman knew she was in possession of a firearm, so she satisfies mens rea. Her defense would be that she was ignorant of the law, and that is, unfortunately for her, no excuse.

    • Sebastian says:

      The fancy legal term for that is “Ignorantia juris non excusat.” As soon as she approached the officer, there was never any defense to the possession charge. By that alone she admitted to being in knowing possession.

  8. Billll says:

    I’ll get into the pool that Bloomie will prosecute to the fullest extent and not offer a plea bargain. Here’s a great example of hillbillies carrying unregistered handguns right in the middle of his city, and he needs to make her an example. It’s for the children after all.

    • Sebastian says:

      I think he will too… and I think it’s a huge strategic error on his part. This will do only two things:

      1. Boost the likelihood he’s going to choke on HR822 as we shove it down his fucking throat.
      2. Offer us a very very sympathetic defendant in a 2nd/14th Amendment challenge to his gun control regime.

      This is not good ground for him to fight on. He should concede the ground and fight another day. But if there’s been one truth about this whole thing, our opponents don’t know when to quit, and that’s worked to our advantage in the extreme.

  9. mobo says:

    What kind of asshole cop would arrest her? The decent thing to do would be to tell her to leave immediately and look the other way. So many of these incidents could be avoided if cops would just stop being assholes.

    • Sebastian says:

      Look at it from the point of view of the cop. What choices do you have?

      You can look the other way, let her go, and have some other cop pick her up, find the gun on her, only to say a previous officer let her go. In that case you better hope she didn’t pick up your name or badge number. You also better hope HQ doesn’t know which cops were assigned to that duty at the time, and be able to narrow it down and apply pressure.

      You can take the gun, and let her go, and tell her to shut up about it. But even if you trust her to shut up, what do you do with the gun you just took off her? You can’t take it back to the evidence locker, because the first question is where’s the perp you took the gun off of? That she was a nice southern woman you didn’t arrest isn’t going to go over well.

      Or, given the actual circumstances, that a security guard brought her to the cops, and there were witnesses, you arrest her, because there are other witnesses.

      Asking a person to turn over their career because a woman didn’t know New York City wasn’t part of America is asking an awful lot. I’ll be honest with you, if I were a cop, it would make me reconsider my career. I’d probably take the gun from her, tell her to speak no more of it, and toss it in a river somewhere. But that’s also easy for me to say given that I’m a good bit more economically secure than your average cop.

  10. MicroBalrog says:

    I suspect if this had happened to her 30 years ago it’d not even be on the news. She’d just be gulped down.

  11. Marc says:

    The truth here is that New York City is in violation of the 2nd Amendment. The pre-existing and natural rights of a free citizenry to own and carry arms cannot be infringed upon. The question at hand is, does preventing a citizen from carrying beyond their own state’s border constitute an infringement of her inherent and natural rights to remain an armed citizen. Clearly the answer is yes. NYC is in brazen violation of Meredith’s constitutional rights.

    Was Meredith making a smart move to carry from Tennessee into NYC while carrying a concealed firearm, while trusting that every state and every city through which she passed was respecting the clear boundaries of the 2nd Amendment? No, clearly it wasn’t smart to assume that NYC, New York State and every where else she passed through was closely observing her 2nd Amendment rights.

    But, is it a crime to be naive? Certainly not. However, I am an advocate in the stripe of James Otis and John Locke who basically say that any act that is passed into law that brazenly violates the Constitution is NULL AND VOID and need not be obeyed.

    Therefore, it is NOT a crime for Meredith to have carried into NYC. But it is indeed a crime for NYC to violate the 2nd Amendment by ignoring its passage in December 1791.

  12. Rabelais Todais says:

    The island nation of Madagascar has no extradition treaty with the United States and has two medical schools. If Meredith speaks French …

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