January 28, 2005

For The Record

I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but I'm dismayed at website after website that, apparently in their rush to keep from getting something wrong, fail to examine the facts themselves. Yes, I'm still rambling on about the "Michael Moore Bodyguard" story.

It's just that sites that I respect, such as Moorewatch.com, Moorelies.com, Captain's Quarters, et. al, are for some reason bending over backwards to criticize FOX news and others for a story that is no more misleading than the email sent from Burk's firm. And nobody (but me) seems to be criticizing that. I even sent an email to Instapundit, but he never responded. Let me just give you the last few facts.

1. Websites are claiming that the FOX story, as written, is "untrue," or "false," simply on the basis of de Becker's email. I've already covered this previously. The story may be misleading, but technically it's true. (Except for one point, which I'll come to later.)

2. de Becker, who runs Burk's firm, states that Burk "never worked for Michael Moore" in his original email. He later tells Moorewatch that Burk was in NYC protecting Moore. Now who's providing false and misleading information?

3. Burk's representatives claim that he "followed proper airline procedure" in checking his gun. This may be true. I have no argument with that--the charge was not an airline charge anyway. But what they don't tell you is that while he may have followed proper airline procedure, he didn't follow New York City gun law.
6. License: ...A license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver, not otherwise limited as to place or time of possession, shall be effective throughout the state, except that the same shall not be valid within the city of New York unless a special permit granting validity is issued by the police commissioner of that city. Such license to carry or possess shall be valid within the city of New York in the absence of a permit issued by the police commissioner of that city, provided that (a) the firearms covered by such license have been purchased from a licensed dealer within the city of New York and are being transported out of said city forthwith and immediately from said dealer by the licensee in a locked container during a continuous and uninterrupted trip; or provided that (b) the firearms covered by such license are being transported by the licensee in a locked container and the trip through the city of New York is continuous and uninterrupted; or provided that... (emphasis mine)

For those that don't read legalese, that means that unless you are Flying (or driving) through NYC, you may not bring a handgun into the city. Period. I have a relative from upstate New York who worked as a deputy sheriff. While going to NYC to pick up a prisoner, even HE was not allowed to bring his sidearm into the city. (Although that was some time ago, and the law may have changed on that.)

Burk was leaving NYC. He didn't buy the weapon there. We know this because it was registered in other states. This means he HAD to have brought it into NYC at some point previous. (Most likely when meeting Moore on January 11--why else bring the gun in the first place.) That's not a continuous and uninterrupted trip, and therefore it's illegal for Burk to posses (not just "carry") the weapon in NYC. As far as I'm concerned the case is closed right there. But a couple of other points.

4. I've heard people say that a judge "released Burk on his own recognizance," as if that somehow clears him. Sorry, that just means he wasn't given any bail. "Dismissed" charges are something different. He'll return to court on February 3 (according to Newsday) to answer the charges.

5. Although de Becker keeps claiming it's incorrect to call Burk "Moore's bodyguard," most stories I've seen state that Burk himself said that.

6. There is a difference between "licensed" and "registered." De Becker complains that the FOX Story makes a mistake by calling the firearm "unlicensed," but then says:
Patrick Burk’s firearm is legally registered to Patrick Burk - it is not “unlicensed.”

De Becker is trying to play semantic games. The gun is not registered in the City of New York. And it's Burke himself, not the gun who needs to be "licensed" in the City of New York. He is not. If he were licensed though, guess what must be on that license?

A license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver shall have attached the licensee`s photograph, and a coupon which shall be removed and retained by any person disposing of a firearm to the licensee. Such license shall specify the weapon covered by calibre, make, model, manufacturer`s name and serial number... (emphasis mine)

So, is calling the gun--which is not listed on a valid NYC license--"unlicensed" necessarily incorrect? I'll leave it to you to decide.

By saying that the gun is "legally registered" to Burk, de Becker makes it sound like Burk is not breaking the law. He is.

7. The one point that de Becker does get right is that the FOX article headline states that Burk was arrested on an "airport gun charge." That's not correct. The charge would be a city charge (I believe it's a felony).

De Becker plays games with words, lies outright about Burk never working for Moore, lies by omission in neglecting to state that Burk was in NYC to meet Moore on the 11th. He even has the nerve to insist that Burk followed airport regulations while in the same letter insisting (correctly) that the charge wasn't an airport charge! The fact that none of the people in such a rush to make a "correction" checked up on these and other claims that de Becker made disturbs me more than a little.

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