The Express-Times are standing behind New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s blue law that bans hunting on Sunday, originally enforced because you should be in church. They are arguing hunters have to share the great outdoors, which they largely pay for, with other people who don’t pay for it. I am not a hunter, but it’s very important for gun rights in this country to turn around its decline. There are plenty of people on our side who are happy to throw the “fudds” off the lifeboat, but the hunting cultures nonetheless provides a lot of bodies to the gun rights movement, and it’s decline will hurt us at the end of the day. Nearly every other state in the country allows Sunday hunting. There is no reason that New Jersey and Pennsylvania should be among the last states to repeal this blue law.
Chris Christie’s state police has promulgated new regulations, including tinkering with the definition of “assault firearm” in New Jersey’s law to make it more strict. This means people who own guns that were previously legal in New Jersey are now felons. It’s also worth remembering that Christie signed the law which prohibited anyone on the “terror watch list” from purchasing a gun. They put it in the regulation, but I’m honestly not sure the FBI will even run that check for them.
The new regulations also add a bunch of new requirements for dealers, including requiring them to open up their records for the NJSP. I should note that I’m not all that much of an expert on New Jersey’s current laws regarding dealers, so I don’t fully understand how much this changes, and you can be sure that journalists know even less, and won’t bother to consult with actual experts (Evan Nappen is probably the foremost, and probably one of the only, experts on NJ gun law).
This is no way for Chris Christie to convince a skeptical base that his candidacy for the GOP nomination for President is a good one. As New Jersey governors go, Christie hasn’t been bad for gun owners. But as New Jersey governors go is a far cry from convincing primary voters in America that he’s good enough on the issue for them. If Christie does decide to run, this issue is going to dog him, and it should.
After careful consideration of the iP1’s design, we have determined that it does not satisfy the statutory definition because, as a matter of design, the pistol may be fired by a person who is not an authorized or recognized user. That is, as long as the pistol is situated within 10 inches of the enabling wristwatch, it may be fired by anyone – the authorized user or any other person who is able to pull the trigger. While the system does incorporate a PIN code or a timer to disable the handgun, when the weapon is enabled, there is nothing in the technology which automatically limits its operational use so that it may only be fired by an authorized or recognized user (so long as the pistol is within a 10-inch proximity to the wristwatch component).
Situations may readily be envisioned in which an unauthorized individual gains access to the pistol in close enough proximity to the wristwatch component (by either maintaining possession of the pistol within 10 inches of the authorized user’s wrist on which he or she is wearing the watch, or by forcibly taking possession of the wristwatch), and therefore would be able to fire the weapon, despite the limiting technology. Accordingly, we are unable to conclude that the iP1 design meets all the elements of New Jersey’s statutory definition of a personalized handgun under N.J.S.2C:39-1(dd), and therefore its availability for retail sales purposes will not trigger the operation of N.J.S.2C:58-2.4 (requiring the promulgation of a list of personalized handguns) and N.J.S.2C:58-2.5 (prohibiting the sale of non-personalized handguns).
Some might smell a rat, and perhaps a rat was intended, but this seriously raises the bar on triggering the NJ smart gun law, and is probably a good thing for gun owners behind enemy lines. Complying with this standard will be exceedingly difficult for those who wish to impose smart guns on us, whether we want them or not.
I’ve always been of the opinion that Smart Gun technology should rise or fail depending on what the market wants, but our opponents would never allow that. As soon as the technology becomes available (In the case of New Jersey, even before!), they will do their level best to mandate it, as the Bradys have attempted here. This ruling doesn’t mean we should stop fighting Armatix. Because the antis have shown their hand, no good can come of allowing this to come to market.
According to attorney Evan Nappen, the Atlantic County Prosecutor has suddenly decided that Shaneen Allen is now eligible for the pre-trial diversion program. It would seem he has decided that she is no longer a bigger danger to society than Ray Rice.
UPDATE: Here’s the story in the press.
It seems that as long as you have the right political views, you can break gun laws and get a slap on the wrist. If you don’t, you’ll end up facing serious charges and years in prison.
Compare these two situations:
1) In New York, an activist who promoted the SAFE Act that made carrying a gun on school property a felony even if the person has a license to carry, decided to carry his gun to a school after the gun control law took effect.
When the school was raided by SWAT officers and went on lockdown for a call about a man with a gun in the building, Dwayne Ferguson did not disclose that he had his gun. It was only when officers started patting down every person in the school did they find his gun. The school noted in their statement that he had an opportunity to disclose his possession to officers, and he chose not to do so, forcing everyone else to face a search.
For his refusal to disclose his accidentally carried, and otherwise licensed, firearm into a prohibited place, Ferguson’s charges were dropped from felonies and he received community service with a conditional discharge.
2) In New Jersey, a single mother from Philadelphia crossed a bridge with her license to carry a gun issued by Pennsylvania thinking that it applied across the border. It did not. When she was pulled over for a vaguely state violation, she willfully disclosed to the officer that she was a licensed gun owner.
For her cooperative attitude during her accidental carry situation, he had her arrested and the prosecutor considers her, as an otherwise lawful gun owner, such a danger to the community that he refuses to even consider the idea of a diversion program because it would mean she would not be put behind bars for years.
It would appear that having the right political views can go a long way in convincing a prosecutor not to press charges in these gun control cases.
New Jersey requires permits to purchase firearms – for longarms, it’s a Firearms Purchasers ID card, issued once and good for life (unless revoked, or you move; it has your street address on it). This card is de jure and practically de facto shall-issue, the only quirk being that, while the legislature wrote a “must issue within 30 days (45 for out-of-state applicants)” into the law, the NJ Judiciary interpreted this as “must issue after the background check is complete;” in effect neutralizing the time limit. Now, while the form to apply for a FPID and the process is uniform statewide, it is administered by the local Chief Law Enforcement officer or the New Jersey State Police for jurisdictions without their own police agency. Furthermore, some jurisdictions have had long-standing traditions and or municipal regulations of having additional requirements not specified in the law, such as additional forms beyond the application and mental health release (Available on the NJSP’s website as PDFs to save and print), interview requirements, and other impediments to the process to purchase a firearm. Of late there is an effort by the NJ Second Amenment Society to sue non-compliant governments to force them to comply with the law, this has been mostly successful with out of court settlements in most cases. Unfortunately, due to the caselaw, the 30-day time limit is not subject to being enforced by lawsuit, so the time it takes to actually receive the FPID is highly variable – my town is generally considred to be middle-of-the-road and I required 6+ weeks both times I applied. Applicants in other towns have had to threaten or actually sue as their wait time approached moths or even a year+. The card itself neither laminated nor standard credit-card size, nor a photo ID. It had your identifying info on one side, and your signature, the CLEO signature, and your fingerprint on the other. It allows you to purchase longarms, as long as you fill out a transfer form and if buying from an FFL, undergo a state-run background check (I understand the FFL calls the NJSP, who runs a quick file check and a NICS check). The last time I bought a longarm it took less time to process that check than it did for me to fill out the 4473 and NJ’s own transfer form.
For handguns, you instead use a Permit to Purchase a Handgun. The application process is exactly the same as the process for obtaining a Firearm Purchasers ID Card, down to using the exact same forms (only checking a different box) – because you need to show an FPID and have the transaction logged when purchasing ammunition from an FFL (ammo for rentals is generally exempt from this requirement), it’s generally considered wise to obtain an FPID at the same time you get your first pistol permit to both take advantage of being able to use the same forms and to be able to buy ammunition retail. Note than “handgun ammo” is considered to be “any ammo that can be used in a handgun,” and includes both “traditional” pistol calibers and .22lr at least. I believe most FFLs log all ammo purchases, but since my only firearms eat 9mm and .22lr, I don’t know for sure. Once complete, you receive a paper form good for 90 days, which can be extended for 90 more days (de jure non-discretionary, and usually de facto as well). This may be used to purchase 1 handgun either privately or through an FFL. If through an FFL, another background check at point of sale applies.
Now, the legislation setting up this scheme was passed in the late 1960s, and the fees were specified at that time and have not been adjusted since then. Consequently, they are relatively trivial; though there is an additional fee nowadays since the entire state now jobs out the fingerprinting to a private company who charges not quite $60 for the job. Fingerprinting is not necessarily required for subsequent paperwork obtained from the same issuing authority as before (at their discretion). Without fingerprinting, the cost is generally under $50 to get a set of permits, often much less. So what some enthusiasts will do is apply for mulitple permits (currently there’s no reason to have more than 3 live ones due to NJ’s one-handgun-a-month scheme), and refresh/replace as the come due, so that they always have the ability to buy a handgun without having to wait out the normal process. If your issuing authority is reasonable, this isn’t a terribly expensive way to go, other than being an unconstitutional tax on the right to obtain a firearm, of course :)
(Obligatory Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, particularly not one who specializes in NJ firearms law. I’m just some guy on the internet who claims to have read the statutes once or twice).
For more resources see:
The NJSP links to NJ Firearms Laws and AG guidelines – that last includes the current “interpretation:” of the NJ AWB
The NJ2AS guide on purchasing a firearm in NJ – includes a link to their Operation Establish Compliance page
And, of course, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, our NRA state org.
A final question, and this one is not rhetorical: Will the people who invoke the power and rhetoric of civil rights to condemn the disparate treatment of heroin and crack dealers, come to the rescue of a law-abiding Black woman whose crime was misunderstanding the multilayered bureaucracies that restrict the federally-guaranteed constitutional right to arms?
Shaneen Allen failed to appreciate that only one piece of the right to keep and bear arms operates in New Jersey. She perhaps concluded that two high-profile Supreme Court opinions affirming the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, plus a Pennsylvania license to carry a concealed firearm, would be enough to secure her right to carry a gun for self-defense, even in New Jersey. She was mistaken, and might be faulted for her slippery grasp of U.S. federalism. But with that as her crime, she is still infinitely more worthy of being rescued than anyone on the recent list of presidential pardons.
So far, there have been no protests or demonstrations seeking justice for Shaneen Allen. Like Otis McDonald, she is ignored by the nominal defenders of civil rights. Let us hope that this is not the end of the story.
I sincerely hope it’s not the end. If she’s convicted, I fully expect Chris Christie to commute her sentence, to be followed by a full pardon once she’s gone through the process. I think what’s happened to Allen is egregious enough that Pennsylvania should refuse extradition. If she’s in free America, fuck what the New Jersey courts demand. We should refuse to turn her over if the State of New Jersey refuses to do the right thing.
She could be any one of you or me.
UPDATE: I should make clear when I say “fully expect,” that doesn’t mean I think he’ll actually do it. That means “fully expect” if he wants me to consider him a viable candidate for President in 2016. And oh yeah, there’s still Brian Aitken too, who could use a full pardon. I’m more open to a Christie candidacy than others, especially when I hear talk of Romney running again, but only if he does the right thing by Aitken and Allen.
I agree with this writer than Shaneen Allen is not collateral damage, and the law is working as the legislature intended it, and I agree with this too:
The video above makes a case for eliminating mandatory minimums to increase a judges discretion. That isn’t a just solution. It would still be a crime to simply possess a firearm with no criminal intent or history. If Shaneen shouldn’t face the penalty (I agree she shouldn’t) the state has prescribed for those who possess a firearm outside of narrow exemptions, why should any other gun owner?
But I’ve long advocated that we have to recognize reality, push for what we can get, and not let perfect be the enemy of good. The reality is that this is New Jersey: the legislature is never going to change the gun laws in the manner above, unless that change is forced on them by the courts.
But they might be able to look at the Allen case an at least agree to ease up on the law a bit so otherwise law abiding people don’t find themselves looking at years in a New Jersey prison for a mistake. In truth, even that is likely an uphill battle. It would be a huge deal if the New Jersey legislature even started looking at gun owners and said, “Not all of these people should be in prison.” That would be a sea change in attitude in the Garden State.
I’m not certain whether Dancer has any chance to even get his bill a hearing. It very well might just be a means to signal support, knowing full well it’s doomed to languish in the Democratically controlled, anti-gun legislature. But I’m inclined to support it nonetheless. Only two things are going to push New Jersey back from its current position: federal courts, or a federal legislative remedy under the 14th Amendment. That’s it.
Assemblyman Ron Dancer of New Jersey has introduced “Shaneen’s Law,” legislation that would give judges the option of not sending citizens like Shaneen Allen to prison. Allen, if you recall, was the mother from Pennsylvania who had a Pennsylvania LTC, and didn’t know it was invalid in New Jersey until she was pulled over and told the officer she was armed. Atlantic County Prosecutor, James P. McClain, threw the book at her.
I’m glad to see someone at least trying to do something about this. Of course, I’d rather stop this with reciprocity, but that’s a long way off for the Garden State. Maybe Assemblyman Dancer’s bill has a chance to go somewhere.
I really want the anti-gunners to explain to me what public interest is served in sending Shaneen Allen to prison? She’s not a threat to anyone. There was never anyone that was victimized by her actions. What purpose does it serve to separate a mother from her child to house her in a prison at taxpayer expense? Is this the America you really want to live in? In an article that would make even the most “law and order” Republican cringe, anti-gun activist Bryan Miller has already answered that question. Sadly, I believe the answer is yes, because when she picked up the gun and put it in her purse, to those people, she became something less than a human being.
UPDATE: This post originally mentioned Shaneen Allen was persecuted by the Ocean County Prosecutor. Atlantic County is where she was persecuted. We apologize for the error.
What if someone stabs you in the neck in your own home? You might call 911 for assistance, right? Well, doing that will end up with the police breaking open your gun safe in New Jersey – just so they can see if you have anything they can nab you on, rather than the person who assaulted you.
That’s just what happened when a man called 911 after his wife stabbed him in the neck. They police demanded that he open the safes so they could remove his securely stored firearms. He didn’t cooperate, so they called in a crew to force them open and then arrested him for having too much black powder and ammunition, according to the article. The police also admit that they aren’t closely cataloging the guns, just tossing them in barrels and they’ll get around to it later.