Illegal Gun Possession: Too Easy on Weezy?


Lil Wayne will serve up to one year in prison after being charged for illegal gun possession. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT)

Published: November 5, 2009

In January 2007, rapper Lil Wayne (real name, Dwayne Carter Jr.; nickname, Weezy) was arrested for the possession of an unlicensed, loaded handgun on his tour bus in New York City. According to New York State gun laws, the minimum sentence for this offense is three and a half years in prison.

The Legal Community Against Violence Web site,, states that New York prohibits the possession of a loaded pistol without a license. However, the laws seem to be a little stricter in New York City. Handgun licenses are “generally effective throughout the state, except in New York City,” where they require “an additional permit issued by local law enforcement.”

The 2009 Grammy winner for “Best Male Hip Hop Artist” originally pleaded not guilty, but prosecutors used a controversial DNA testing method called Low Copy Number (LCN) to link him to the gun. Opponents of LCN DNA testing argue that the method is so sensitive it could link innocent people to a situation where they never directly left a DNA sample.

On Oct. 22, Wayne switched his plea to guilty; he will now serve only one year in prison, or he may be released in eight to 10 months due to good behavior. Wayne was expected to release two new albums by the end of this year; as of yet, there does not seem to be a change in these plans.

The Observer asked several Fordham students their opinions on the matter:


Rob Coglitore

FCLC ’12

“I think that the situation is overblown because of his high-profile status. I think that he deems it necessary to carry a gun because of his upbringing in New Orleans. Perhaps it would be smarter for the bodyguard to be equipped rather than him. I think that eight to 10 months is a good amount of time—any longer might be too extreme. I don’t think the gun laws are too strict. Celebrities and average people should be treated the same. Finally, I don’t think that this will have any effect on his career in terms of his fan base but will be a hindrance to his recording of music.”


Russell Dowling

FCLC ’11

“There’s no question that a three-and-a-half year minimum sentence for possession of an unlicensed, loaded handgun in New York is very strict. But it’s definitely a necessary deterrent for those who are considering illegally buying a handgun. I don’t think this is really going to affect [Wayne’s] career at all. If a celebrity’s career was negatively affected every time one of them went to jail, there wouldn’t be too many people left walking around Hollywood.”


Eddy Segal

FCLC ’10

“I’m from Pennsylvania, where everyone has an illegal gun and gets away with it. They shouldn’t put him in jail too long because his music is an important cultural aspect of American life, but eight to 10 [months] isn’t bad compared to the original sentence. I don’t think it will hurt his career because he’ll turn it into a sick album.

“However, if they’re going to really investigate something, it should be the way guns are obtained in both the legal and illegal markets. I think that guns can be too easy to get illegally and too hard to get legally. A gun in the right hands can actually be a lifesaver—the problem is, how do you judge who has the mental stability to have that power?”


David Wall

FCLC ’12

“If anything, celebrities get off easy; they almost never get the full sentence. If Lil Wayne has bodyguards, then he doesn’t need a gun. He doesn’t need a gun, but of course he’s going to carry one because it’s part of his image. I think [Wayne’s sentence] is fair; maybe he should get more time, but eight to 10 months is fair. This can only help his career because it reaffirms that he is ‘hard’ and ‘gangsta.’ Wayne is wealthy enough to get a licensed [gun]. This is just stupidity, and probably a publicity stunt. If he was really afraid for his personal safety, then he would want to stay as far away from prison as possible.”


Grace Weiss

FCLC ’12

“I think that [Wayne] should serve time because he committed said offense, but eight to 10 months may be a bit long, especially because the DNA testing method was controversial. He probably shouldn’t have had a loaded handgun in the first place if he has full-time bodyguards. He should face the consequences of his actions. In the long run, he’ll probably be more respected for owning up to his actions instead of shying away from them. In regards to gun laws, they are strict, but they are there for a reason.”


Fannie Wu

FCLC ’12

“I feel that when it comes to celebrities, laws are not taken as seriously as they would be if the situation involved a normal citizen. For Lil Wayne’s case and all celebrities, the laws seem to be a joke, and this is unfair to American citizens. It is unfair to only have to serve eight to 10 months of jail time when it originally should have been three years.

“On the other hand, I can understand why he would have a gun, and I don’t blame him for that. He might feel a need to have a gun because sometimes there are tensions between rappers. So in this case, I guess Lil Wayne would want to carry the gun for his own safety? Bodyguards are there, but he must be comforted by the fact that he feels prepared and safe at all times, if there is a problem.”