Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Shaw Pleads Not Guilty

January 12th, 2011 by

Back in November, I wrote a post about New York City tattoo pioneer, Jonathan Shaw and the rather immense weapons cache of his that was discovered.  Well, yesterday Shaw was in attendance for his first day of court at Manhattan Supreme Court.  Charged with 89 counts of criminal possession of weapons (three of which are felony charges) for his absolutely massive weapons cache, the 57-year-old Shaw pleaded not guilty.

Shaw, who has never owned a firearms license or a rifle permit in the state of New York, has been released on $250,000 bail.  The weapons cache itself was found in a storage locker in November and contained numerous loaded weapons.

‘Guns in the locker included the AK-47 loaded with 31 rounds of ammo, a British military rifle; a Mossberg 12 gauge pump-action pistol-grip shotgun and a loaded .30 caliber semiautomatic riffle, officials said.

More than 80 knives, including 66 illegal switchblades, two daggers, a bayonet, fives sets of metal knuckles, eight expandable batons, two leather blackjacks and five blank-firing handguns, were also discovered officials said.’

If found guilty of the charges against him, Shaw could face up to 15 years in prison.  The not guilty plea is based on his claim that the weapons were part of a personal collection and nothing more.  Three of the knives found amongst the weapons stockpile were engraved with the Ku Klux Klan logo, something that Shaw’s lawyer Stacey Richman says makes them “…without question historical pieces.”

It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the remainder of this thing plays out.  What I don’t understand is why you need to have the firearms loaded if they are sitting in a storage locker and are part of a historical collection.  I also don’t understand why the judge presiding over the case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr would bring the recent shooting in Arizona into the equation.

‘”The events of this past weekend remind us that gun violence continues to plague our nation,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said, referring to the Arizona massacre that left six people dead and a U.S. congresswoman with a bullet in her brain.

“The defendant’s illegal weapons cache endangered workers and customers at the storage facility and in the entire community,” Vance said.’

Sure, Shaw did break the law by having an illegal weapons cache in a storage locker, but bringing in imagery of the Arizona shootings will surely have an impact on the jury that isn’t necessarily going to be good or fair for Jonathan Shaw.  All this being said of course, Shaw really seems to be on thin ice here and tattoo legend or not, this entire episode is more than a little unsettling.  Stay tuned.

Bad News

November 9th, 2010 by

You know, I try to keep things positive here on the Tattoo Blog.  Sure, you’ve stopped by plenty of times and read some post that I wrote where I slagged someone’s tattoo or a particular new trend amongst those in the tattoo industry.  Fair enough, I admit that I can be a little negative that way.  But I stand by it nonetheless.  The type of negativity that I’m trying to avoid is the stuff that deals with artists who have gotten themselves messed up with the law in one way or another.  I don’t like to write about a lot of stories like that because I think the tattoo industry already gets enough flack from small-minded stereotypers and naysayers.  It doesn’t need further negativity and stuff that only serves to live up to the stereotypes that clueless people have about people with tattoos and people who tattoo.

That’s why this new bit of news is so disappointing: it involves a real tattoo veteran and well, it’s all just plain odd.  Jonathan Shaw has tattooed many celebrities in his lengthy career as a tattoo artist.  He opened New York City’s first legal tattoo studio back in the day, he founded International Tattoo Art Magazine as well as writing two novels.  But on Monday the 57-year-old tattooist was arrested in Manhattan after police found a weapons cache worthy of an early 80’s Schwarzennegger movie.

‘Cops discovered an AK-47 assault rifle, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, a loaded British rifle, 96 knives, five sets of metal knuckles, eight batons, 2,833 rounds of ammunition, stage pistols and an air rifle, authorities said.’

According to this news story, the weapons were in a duffel bag and a suitcase that Shaw was having sent to Los Angeles.  No one is sure exactly why Shaw had the weapons or why he was sending them to LA, but he’s been charged with a whole slew of weapons violations and he’s definitely going to have some explaining to do come court time.

It sucks for stuff like this to happen to people who’ve been in the industry for so long.  It would still be bad if it had been some young, up and coming tattoo artist, but when you have someone who has made such progress for the tattoo industry and community end up in such a bizarre and frankly just plain shitty situation, it’s an all around big disappointment.  Call me cynical, but I’m doubting that Shaw will be able to clear this up very easily.  I mean, what possible reason could he have for not only having all that stuff, but for sending it over to LA from NY?  Seems shady to me.  Ninety-six knives?  2,833 rounds of ammo?  Dude, what are you – training for the apocalypse?