Police in New York City recently arrested a 35-year-old Queens man for allegedly pulling out a gun while in line to get gas. The alleged violent crime occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which prevented the delivery of fuel to the affected area, leading to gas shortages. The man had allegedly tried to cut in line and pointed a gun at another motorist who had complained about his behavior. Authorities arrested the man and charged him with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

This incident highlights one of the after-effects of natural disasters: namely, an increase in violent crimes such as this one. When a city’s basic services are not functioning properly due to flooding or damage and there is a shortage of basic amenities, the incidence of criminal behavior often increases. This was seen during Hurricane Katrina and was also seen during Hurricane Sandy. Breakdowns in law and order are a frequent product of severe natural disasters.

Some people will do what they can to get the necessary supplies they need for their families. Should someone, who is probably under extreme duress, be punished the same way as someone who simply pulls a gun?

Regardless of the time and place committed, those convicted of a crime such as this face prison sentences and fines.

Fortunately, any defendant accused of weapons possession is entitled to a committed criminal defense attorney. The defendant may also question any witnesses that the state calls to testify against him or her. For those accused of weapons possession, a conviction for the offense need not be inevitable.

Source: Associated Press, “NYC man accused of pulling gun in gas line,” Nov. 2, 2012