Did Cuomo Aide Commit a Gun Crime -- and Get Away with It?
Recently, gun blogs lit up with the story of Jerome Hauer, appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be commissioner of New York State's Department of Homeland Security. The Albany Times-Union and the Daily Caller reported that last October, Hauer was giving a presentation to a group of Swedish delegates in a State Police "bunker" ("Bunker"? The State Police need a "bunker"?) when, unable to locate a pocket laser pointer for his lecture, he pulled a handgun and used the laser sight on it instead -- allegedly muzzle-sweeping one delegate's head with the laser in the process. The Swedes were said to be "rattled" by the incident.
Turns out that it was illegal for Hauer -- who is not a sworn police officer -- to be carrying his weapon in State office buildings. Hey, no problem! Subsequently, the Times-Union reported that Hauer was granted a "waiver" allowing him to continue carrying his handgun in State facilities.
Internet commenters howled in outrage -- not only at the obvious hypocrisy of the rabidly anti-gun Cuomo granting a gun waiver to a member of his inner circle, but at the gross violation of the most basic principle of gun-safety: never point a gun at anything you don't intend to shoot. Even the über-leftist Village Voice took a few shots at Hauer's stupidity.
But the story may actually be much worse than what the Times-Union and the Daily Caller reported, for a couple of reasons.
First, New York State handgun law is among the most draconian and discretionary in the nation. Applications to exercise one's constitutional right to own a handgun are absolutely outrageous (here's an example), and handguns are routinely confiscated for the slightest perceived infraction (and without due process, either). Unless one is a police officer or badged security guard, all open carry is prohibited. Licensing officers and courts have consistently interpreted the ability of anyone to see any portion, holster, or even outline of a handgun as "failure to carry concealed," which almost always results in the revocation of the individual's permit and confiscation of all of his firearms.
So why wasn't Hauer's permit revoked for pulling a gun to use as a laser pointer?
Second, if the Times-Union story is accurate, Hauer might have committed as many as two criminal offenses: menacing and reckless endangerment. Section 120 of the New York State Penal Law defines Menacing in the Second Degree as follows:
A person is guilty of menacing in the second degree when:
1. He or she intentionally places or attempts to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm.
Section 120 further defines Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree:
A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the second degree when he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.
Both crimes are Class A Misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail (plus revocation of one's handgun permit and confiscation of one's firearms).
So why was Hauer granted a "waiver" instead of being arrested and having his guns confiscated by the State Police?
Part of the answer may be that New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico got a little "waiver" of his own. D'Amico retired from the New York City Police Department (where he served as an anti-gun flunky for Mayor Bloomberg) before Cuomo appointed him to head the NYSP. Though State law prevents "double-dipping" -- collecting a State pension while collecting a salary for another State job - gun-grabber D'Amico whined that he just couldn't get by on his $136,000 NYSP salary, so he was granted a "waiver" allowing him to collect both his salary and his $85,000 NYPD pension.
Pretty slick, huh? If you're "connected," the law doesn't apply to you. You get a "waiver."
As Orwell famously wrote in Animal Farm, "[a]ll animals are equal... but some animals are more equal than others." In other words, in a dictatorship, there are two sets of rules -- one for those within the power clique, and another for the common proletarian scum like us.
Those who worry that New York is becoming a dictatorship are wrong. It already is one.