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Christie Pardons More Gun Owners, Tripped Up by Draconian NJ Laws

Chris Christie has been trying to convince gun owners he’s not like all the other New Jersey Governors and politicians on gun issues, and to be honest, he’s not. Today he pardoned three more people, otherwise law abiding, who happened to run afoul of New Jersey’s draconian gun laws. Chalk it up to wanting to do better among GOP primary voters, but no other New Jersey governor has been willing to pardon honest citizens who mistakenly run afoul of their gun laws. These are not isolated incidents. These kinds of cases have been happening in New Jersey at a pretty regular frequency for years, and often these people just end up rotting in jail, their lives and families destroyed. So I will give Christie credit where it is due.

A tip of the hat to Charles C.W. Cooke over at National Review, who broke the story.

Something Rotten in New Jersey

Holding out the possibility there’s more to this story than is being reported, am I the only one who read this article and wondered why it’s the kids being charged and not the cop? A story over at has more information, where former prosecutors agree that state trooper in question could be in big heap trouble. The trooper claims he believed the kids were burglarizing his house, and there’s also some dispute as to whether he identified himself as a police officer. But you know what? If I shoot at fleeing burglars, I’m going to jail. The fact that the kids called 911 after being shot at also doesn’t speak for the fact that they were attempting to burglarize the house, or that the officer identified himself. If he did not identify himself, according to the article at that could mean additional serious charges:

If he’s not treated as an on-the-job officer — and Romankow was more skeptical the trooper would be — any number of other charges might come into play, Bianchi said. Second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose could mean 5 to 10 years, with 3 years of parole ineligibility. Fourth-degree pointing a weapon at another person carries 18 months of parole ineligibility.

If this is a case of an officer losing his cool, at the least it should be the end of his career, and he should face the same charges any similarly situation civilian would face under these circumstances.

Following the law would not have been enough

Even if the Berlin Twp Police Chief had followed the law as written and issued a pistol purchase permit within 30 days, it would not have been enough for Carol Browne. After all, that would merely have allowed her to purchase a pistol, at which point she could only have it in a ready-to-use condition at her home, or possibly at her “fixed place of business” (I’m unsure as to whether that exemption applies to employees or only to the owner, and, at any rate, I presume she’d have had to have permission of the owner of the business). While in transit, though, the law requires:

All weapons being transported under paragraph (2) of subsection b., subsection e., or paragraph (1) or (3) of subsection f. of this section shall be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and in the course of travel shall include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances

Which would have made it very tedious (and somewhat unsafe) for her to have had her pistol ready to use when she was attacked. She could have walked out to the car and entered it, removed the magazine and unloaded the chamber, stored each as the law requires, and driven directly to work, reversed the procedure, worked, then done the same. Of course, every time you handle a firearm, particularly in unholstering and holstering, and unloading, you risk a discharge. In addition, this would have to be done in the confines of a car, which would necessarily preclude situational awareness. Not to mention that she still could not have the pistol available when running errands about town.

In theory, she could have applied for a permit to carry, but in practice, that would be almost impossible to get – the permits are may-issue and require both the approval of the police chief who was not diligent in issuing the purchase permit and a judge’s approval (and they very rarely approve).

The system that is a good start for the anti-gunners, whose provisions are supposed to “protect” women, meant that Carol Browne had no way to effectively defend herself when a bad man walked through the restraining order to kill her. She did everything she could legally do, and it was not enough.

Another Pardon for Chris Christie

Charles C.W. Cooke reports on Governor Christie’s latest pardon of yet another person who found himself caught up in the web of the Garden State’s byzantine gun regulations. Christie still has not announced whether he’s going to run in 2016. Despite the fact that he’s been better on guns than most every other New Jersey governor, he’s not going to overcome the fact that he’s a governor in a state where people die waiting for gun permits. That’s not a small issue. For Carol Brown, whatever Second Amendment rights anyone will claim she had did not effectively exist for her. She would have been no worse off living under a regime where guns were simply banned entirely, because she died waiting for fingerprints to get back from the FBI.

Personally, my biggest beef with Chris Christie is that he’s got a “law and order” streak a mile wide, and I’ve grown tired of that branch of the “conservative movement.” He also does not hide his contempt for libertarians, so I don’t see he’s really working to earn my vote. But I will give him credit where it is due, pardoning Steffon Josey-Davis was the right and decent thing to do.

In NJ, it is the law to delay

One of the pieces of conventional wisdom you hear in New Jersey gun ownership circles is that the NJ Judiciary gutted the 30 day requirement for issuance of a pistol purchase permit or a Firearms Purchasers ID Card, but you never get a reference to the case in question, or the details. So, spent a few minutes googling, and after running my search, I found this case.

We read the statutory scheme as requiring a chief of police to withhold action on an application for a firearms purchaser identification card until receipt of the requisite SBI and FBI fingerprint reports.

We thus conclude that the inability of the chief of police to obtain the requisite SBI and FBI reports within the thirty day period constitutes “good cause” for a denial, but does not require the chief of police to deny the application on that account. He must withhold rendering a decision on the application until the fingerprint reports are obtained from the SBI and the FBI.

If the reports so obtained do not disclose a criminal conviction or any other disqualifying disability, the “good cause” for the denial of the permit evaporates, and an identification card must be granted immediately. Conversely, if the SBI or FBI report yields information disclosing good cause for the denial of a permit, the applicant should be notified in timely fashion.

So, the Berlin Township’s Chief of Police saying that they hadn’t received the fingerprint results means he was required to not issue under this decision. So, all the armchair lawyers who are suggesting 1983 suits, please don’t. It’ll be an expensive waste of time. Instead, push the NJ legislature to go to NICS.

A gun control success story

Via Breitbart, a story of someone whose life may have been saved by gun control. And of course there will be no consequences for the police chief or anyone else in government. Because guns cause domestic violence or something.

A restraining order is a piece of paper, and when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

Even in NJ, we can win some

Evan Nappen gets a judge to rule that the law means what it says.

In a published decision binding upon all New Jersey municipalities, the New Jersey Appellate Division has confirmed that New Jersey municipalities may NOT require added forms for firearm permit applications beyond the state forms.

It’s a little thing, but little things add up. Also note, “funded in part by the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.”

Sometimes you just stand on the sidelines and cheer both sides

Senator Robert Menendez (D) is mired in a scandal about not getting his money’s worth from Amex reward points (oh, and bribery, corruption, and other quaint Hudson County political peccadilloes). He and a Florida doctor have been indicted on federal corruption charges, and the Senator is not taking this quietly. But what surprised me was a few pieces on various right-leaning blogs that suggested we should support the Senator because the prosecution is a piece of political payback for not following the White House policy line. Really? The Senator as much as admits to ethically questionable behavior (his defense is that it wasn’t illegal), he’s a pro-statist politician who never met a gun control bill he didn’t like, AND the White House has to expend scarce political capital to nail him?

I’ll be popping some popcorn while the Democratic Party’s infighting spills out into the news cycle.

Being Realistic About Chris Christie on Gun Rights

I’m going to be play some devil’s advocate here: Chris Christie is the most pro-gun governor New Jersey has had for at least 50 years. I say that as someone who is still, tentatively, backing Scott Walker, so this is not driven by some establishment conspiracy to prop Christie up if Bush III falls over, even though I’d back Chris Christie over Bush III.

As a governor of New Jersey, following a parade of awful, corrupt Democratic governors, and facing an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, I don’t think he’s done a bad job. Do gun owners of a certain age in the Garden State remember booting Jim Florio, after he passed the state’s Assault Weapons Ban? What did Christie Whitman ever do for you? And unlike Chris Christie, Christie Whitman sailed into office with a Republican legislature!

For me Chris Christie’s greatest sin is signing the law that allows people to be denied Second Amendment rights because they were on a secret government list that has included dangerous jihadists like Ted Kennedy. But as a former US Attorney, Christie is quite cozy with the “law and order” branch of the GOP, which hasn’t met many civil liberties it wasn’t willing to infringe on for the War on Terror (really, what’s a little habeas corpus suspension between friends?) or the War on Drugs.

His “law and order” tendencies aside, Christie has been willing to veto more anti-gun bills and use his executive power on our behalf than any New Jersey governor since 1962. Those of you who are older might be able to refute me on this, and you’re welcome to, but I haven’t found anything in my research to indicate otherwise. Most of New Jersey’s gun control laws were passed in and about 1966, under Governor Hughes (no, not that Hughes), and I haven’t found any GOP or Dem successor willing to lift a finger.

I get being tops on gun rights in New Jersey is not a high standard. But New Jersey is an unbelievably hostile political environment for guns. It’s arguably more hostile than even Brady top-ranked California, where there are still many parts of that state which simply ignore the diktats from Sacramento, and where there’s a good chance you can find local constabulary will look the other way. But for New Jersey, it’s become clear that even counties in more conservative South Jersey jurisdictions will throw the book at otherwise good people in the name of “law and order.”

I see a lot of complaining that Chris Christie didn’t bother to help Brian Aitken, but a pardon requires one to admit guilt, and Aitken wanted to appeal his conviction. And good for him, since he did get it overturned, except for the hollow point charge, which he is still appealing. If he seeks a pardon (and in every state there is a bureaucratic process for that), you have to first admit guilt. That wasn’t an issue for Allen, since they had her dead to rights since she admitted guilt to the arresting officer. Christie can’t grant a pardon he wasn’t asked to grant, at least without screwing up the system, and possibly ruining the appeal.

I don’t blame anyone on not liking Chris Christie. We all have our candidates we prefer in the primary season. But I think few people in the gun rights movement have any idea how hostile the Garden State is to our cause. Chris Christie might be behind the national curve on the Second Amendment, but he’s farther ahead on the curve than any solid blue state governor I can think of in the past 50 years, including Mitt Romney.

A Pardon Well Deserved

Chris Christie is clearly trying to boost his pro-gun credibility in whatever way he can given the extremely anti-gun legislature he deals with since he signed a full pardon of Shaneen Allen today.

This is wonderful news for Allen, and it will hopefully send a message to New Jersey’s police officers and prosecutors. New Jersey isn’t exactly going pro-gun, but maybe there will be a little more sanity in the enforcement of the laws.

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