Just a few weeks ago I wrote about a case that sent a man with no criminal record to prison for 7 years—all due to some pretty confusing gun laws and an unwavering judge. Just this week he was granted a commutation from Governor Christie, likely due in part to all of the attention his case was getting. [Read more…] about Governor Christie Commutes Gun Sentence
A Colorado man moving to New Jersey took precautions that any other reasonable person would have to ensure moving his firearms, which were legally purchased and registered in Colorado, would be done according to New Jersey law. Now, however, due to an unwavering system and a complex jumble of gun laws, he is in the custody of a New Jersey prison.
The twenty-seven year old entrepreneur had no criminal record and a relatively squeaky clean image. Now he is fighting for his freedom and petitioning Governor Christie for a reprieve in his case.
In the process of moving across the country, he took precautions including calling New Jersey State Police to ensure he was transporting his weapons in compliance with the laws. But, when he went to his parents house after arriving in Jersey, distraught over issues with his ex-wife, his mother called police as a precaution. As someone who works with the mentally distraught, his mother states she has always been told to be safe rather than be sorry and she was concerned for her son’s emotional health.
Police arrived at the home and telephoned the man, who was already driving to his own place, asking him to return. He complied. When police searched his vehicle and found his firearms, he was arrested on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm. This despite police determining he wasn’t a risk to himself or anyone else.
You see, in New Jersey, a purchaser’s permit allows you to buy a weapon but not carry it. If you are in possession of a weapon and not one of the select few allowed to carry it (including police officers and some security forces), you are presumed guilty and must prove your innocence, a clear perversion of justice.
Certain exceptions exist under the law to allow for carrying a weapon. Unfortunately, and for an unknown reason, the judge presiding over this particular case ruled he didn’t qualify for any of the exceptions, even the federal law that protects people from being prosecuted for transporting weapons between residences.
He was found guilty of a felony charge of possession of a firearm without a permit and sentenced to seven years in prison. His criminal defense lawyer is appealing the conviction.
As Radley Balko states in his commentary at Reason Magazine, convicting this man “isn’t going to make New Jersey any safer. It might, however, make some of the state’s residents think twice before calling the police, particularly if they own guns.”