This story is an older one – from 2003. However, it’s a prime case to look into if you’re a homeowner and you really haven’t investigated local gun laws.
In December, 2002, US Navy veteran Ron Dixon was awakened by a loud noise in his Brooklyn home. After Dixon saw an intruder enter his 2-year-old son’s bedroom, the homeowner grabbed his 9mm pistol, loaded it, and told his girlfriend to call the Police. Dixon confronted the intruder, who was searching through drawers. After Dixon asked the intruder, “What are you doing in my house?” the intruder allegedly moved towards Dixon, prompting the citizen to pull the trigger.
Dixon’s girlfriend was on the phone with dispatch when she heard the gunshots. “I fired at him twice,” Dixon said. “He fell down the stairs and lay at the bottom of the stairs.” The suspect, Ivan Thompson, took 9mm bullets to the groin and chest. Thompson was a career criminal with a record “14 pages long”, having been arrested 19 times for criminal trespass, burglary, and attempted assault. Thompson survived his wounds and spent some quality time on Riker’s Island.
Dixon was hailed as a local hero by the papers – he was a U.S. Navy vet, a lawful immigrant from Jamaica, a dutiful father of two, and a man who worked hard to keep bread on the table. However, Ron Dixon was arrested and faced serious jail time. Why? Because the 9mm pistol that he used to defend himself and his family – which was legally purchased when Dixon lived in Florida – wasn’t licensed in the state…and handguns in New York are a BIG no-no unless Big Brother knows about them.
Dixon had paid a Gun Law Consultant $500.00 to begin the process to get his 9mm handgun legally registered in Brooklyn. However, that “Gun Law Consultant” took the money, went out of business, and ran – leaving Dixon up a creek when he had to use that same pistol to defend his family. Dixon was arrested and threatened with jail time under a “criminal possession of a weapon” charge. Remember, this pistol was 100% legally purchased in Florida. “You get caught with a [unlicensed] gun in Brooklyn, you’re going to do jail time.” a prosecutor stated.
Dixon’s neighbors were outraged, and Dixon was in danger of losing his job. Dixon worked seven days a week at a Wall Street firm to be able to afford his home and feed his children. The suggested sentence, four weekends on Riker’s Island, seems minimal but meant the loss of Dixon’s job and consequently, his home. And the outrage at facing jail for his situation after he’d shot a criminal who had been arrested and released 19 times was apparent “This guy was allowed to roam the streets. At what stage am I protected?” Dixon bemoaned.
Six months later, Dixon was able to plea guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, with three days of jail time. However, in order to get the reduced sentence, Dixon had to acknowledge his violation of gun ordinances, document where the pistol was purchased, and prove that he had taken steps to register the pistol.
What does this mean to us? Clearly, if you’re going to keep a firearm for defense, KNOW YOUR LOCAL LAWS AND COMPLY WITH THEM. If Dixon had hit the suspect with a hammer or used a kitchen knife or baseball bat to subdue the man, he likely would have been in the clear. However, a technicality gave him the shaft. If you have a gun that is illegal in some way, don’t be a dummy – find another way to defend your family if you have to; what would have been a 100% righteous shooting in most locations was a criminal act in New York.
If you’ve purchased a gun in another state, be sure to read up on both state’s gun laws. Keeping a lawyer on retainer is also an excellent idea; they can be referenced to research law for you as well. And remember – ignorance of the law does not give you a pass to break those laws.
Yes, we are in America – Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. But this land of the brave is lawsuit happy and law heavy. a day’s worth of research and some time spent taking proper action will pay off later when you don’t land behind bars.