An Honest Mistake Can Cost You, Know Before You Go


This is why it’s so important to check and double check the laws of anywhere you plan to visit. It’s entirely possible that a city may have more restrictive carry laws than the rest of the state.

A former U.S. Marine found out the hard way that her Texas issued concealed carry permit was not valid in New York. Elizabeth Elderli is charged with felony posession of a firearm and possibly faces 3 1/2 to 15 years in prison for her actions.

Here is what happened:

Elderli, who is from Texas always carries two handguns. A 9mm and a .380 backup. Through her research, she believed her Texas carry permit would allow her to carry in NY and NYC. While visiting the September 11 Memorial she had her two carry guns in a backpack. She saw a “No Firearms” sign at a security checkpoint. She felt she was doing the right thing by informing a Police Officer that she was carrying. Believing that her handguns were covered by her Texas carry permit. They were not and she was arrested.


“She did what every responsible gun owner would do,” her attorney, Amy Bellantoni, told “If she thought she was doing something wrong, she would have turned around and walked out.

“There’s absolutely no criminal intent here,” the lawyer added.

Elderli insists she thought her research had shown her the guns — which she had checked on her flight from Texas to Pennsylvania — did not violate the laws of any state she intended to visit. Both Bellantoni and Bederow note her actions showed she wasn’t knowingly breaking the law.

“If she had known that New York did not recognize her license, she would have left it [the guns]in a safe in the hotel,” Bellantoni said of Elderli, a former private first class with the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq in 2003.


Elderli’s arrest is the latest in a string of cases involving out-of-state, gun-toting tourists arrested and charged in New York, which has among the nation’s toughest firearms laws. Gun control advocates say it is up to firearms owners to know the laws in jurisdictions they visit, and have little sympathy for people who carry guns in from states with less stringent laws. But the treatment of Elderli and other citizens underscores the serious consequences faced by a gun owner who abides by one state’s laws, but unwittingly breaks another’s.

“It is true that out-of-state firearm owners should familiarize themselves with New York’s Draconian laws before coming to New York City,” said Bederow, a defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor who has represented many people charged with gun crimes in New York. “But district attorneys have a powerful tool — prosecutorial discretion — and need not criminalize honest mistakes by otherwise law-abiding citizens, especially veterans, who acted responsibly by disclosing their possession to appropriate authorities.”

Whether or not prosecutorial descretion will be applied here remains to be seen. Bottom line, be sure and double check. An honest oversight on your part can cost you for the rest of your life.

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About Author

I'm an avid shooter and firearms collector. Also, an NRA certified RSO and a part time handgun instructor. There is no greater compliment that a student can pay than passing along what I have taught them.

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