National Rifle Association News host Cam Edwards complained about the arrest of New York linen mogul George Bardwil on illegal gun possession charges, even though Bardwil is currently under indictment for felony domestic abuse and is therefore prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm.
Edwards' defense of Bardwil demonstrates how the NRA claims that existing gun laws should be better enforced while simultaneously undermining the enforcement of the federal prohibition on firearm possession by domestic abusers.
On the March 15 edition of Cam & Company on The Sportsman Channel, Edwards cited news reports in The Washington Times and The New York Post that described how Bardwil was arrested after police reviewed footage of Bardwil using a handgun that was not registered to him to scare off a would-be burglar at his Manhattan residence. New York City law requires that handgun owners register their weapons with the city.
During the segment, Edwards suggested that in New York, “you are still looking at three years in prison for acting in self-defense in your own home,” even though the actual charge relates to Bardwil's alleged “criminal possession of a weapon” and not his conduct when confronting the would-be burglar.
Edwards also described the situation as “pretty awful” and said, “I thought we lived in the United States of America.” He concluded by suggesting that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could prove that he was not “anti-gun” by convincing the district attorney to not pursue charges against Bardwil:
EDWARDS: Mayor Bloomberg still has the, well I'll use the word tenacity, this is a family friendly show. Still has the tenacity and the gall to say he is not anti-gun. If that is the case, why don't you call up your buddy the DA, chew him out, and get those charges dropped against George Bardwil?
The New York Post has reported on allegations of violence against Bardwil, even in articles that also discuss his arrest on gun possession charges. The Post reported that in 2008, Bardwil pled guilty to assaulting a housemaid. In May 2012, the Post reported that Bardwil was arrested on a felony assault charge after his ex-wife accused him of repeatedly slamming her head into the ground causing her to be hospitalized. Bardwil's ex-wife told the Post at the time, “I'm very scared of him.” Bardwil was subsequently charged with second degree assault, which is a class D felony in New York.
Bardwil's domestic abuse charge means that he is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm. Under 18 U.S.C. 922, it is unlawful for a person to possess a firearm who “is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” In New York, individuals convicted of class D felonies can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. Individuals who are subject to a permanent restraining order because of allegations of domestic violence are also prohibited from owning a firearm under federal law.
Edwards' comments reflect the NRA's opposition to laws that strengthen prohibitions on the possession of weapons by domestic abusers. A March 17 article in The New York Times described how the NRA has lobbied against state law proposals that would make it easier for local police to enforce the federal prohibition on possession of firearms by domestic abusers:
In statehouses across the country, though, the N.R.A. and other gun-rights groups have beaten back legislation mandating the surrender of firearms in domestic violence situations. They argue that gun ownership, as a fundamental constitutional right, should not be stripped away for anything less serious than a felony conviction -- and certainly not, as an N.R.A. lobbyist in Washington State put it to legislators, for the “mere issuance of court orders.”
While federal law makes it a crime for such individuals to possess firearms, it is largely up to individual states to legislate effective enforcement mechanisms.
According to The New York Times, the NRA successfully lobbied against legislation in Washington state and Wisconsin in 2010 that would have forced individuals subject to a protective order to surrender their firearms to law enforcement. Similar legislation was reintroduced into the Washington legislature this year and has passed in that state's House of Representatives, despite the NRA's attempts to amend the legislation.