NYC councilwoman wants to make it a crime to buy fake handbags

NYC councilwoman wants to make it a crime to buy fake handbags

Margaret Chin: Caveat emptor
Margaret Chin: Caveat emptor

If you’ve been to Manhattan in recent decades, you have probably seen street vendors, whose numbers are legion, selling knockoff designer handbags. Now a Manhattan councilwoman is trying to enact legislation that would result in serious jail time for these transactions.

But it’s not the seller that Democrat Margaret Chin is after. It’s the buyer.

The New York Post reports that Chin’s bill would slap tourists who are duped into buying designer fakes with a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in prison. The Post quotes Chin as saying:

People think it’s an adventure. It’s always illegal for people to sell, but it’s not illegal for the people who buy this stuff. Hopefully, this law will cut down on the demand.

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Chin’s main beef is that the peddlers in Chinatown, the district she represents, have become aggressive, harassing passersby. That sounds like a reasonable concern. But then why not introduce legislation that cracks down on the peddlers? Because the buyers, she maintains, are hard-nosed bargain hunters whose actions are very deliberate. Chin told reporters:

People are worried that some innocent middle-aged woman might unwittingly purchase a [counterfeit] bag. If you go into a back room, basement or van, you probably know what you’re doing is not legal.

That’s a big “probably.” But it’s also a moot point since the black marketers rarely have become more savvy and rarely transact business in secret rooms lined with fake merchandise instead discreetly hawking their wares right out in the open.

Apart from that, how far does New York want to go in enacting laws based on the premise that “ignorance is no defense”? In Singapore, which has some of the least forgiving laws on earth (the city-state made international headlines in 1994 when the government caned 18-year-old American Michael Fay for a nonviolent crime), unsuspecting visitors will be fined for chewing gum, feeding the birds, or forgetting to flush a public toilet. Is this a fraternity the Big Apple wants to join?

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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