In yet another example of the absurdity of some state gun laws, a man who was moving and had legally purchased hand guns in his car has been convicted and imprisoned for seven years:
When Mount Laurel police arrived at the Aitkens’ home on Jan. 2, 2009, they called Brian – who was driving to Hoboken – and asked him to return to his parents’ home because they were worried. When he arrived, the cops checked his Honda Civic and, inside the trunk, in a box stuffed into a duffel bag with clothes, they found two handguns, both locked and unloaded as New Jersey law requires.
Aitken had passed an FBI background check to buy them in Colorado when he lived there, his father said, and had contacted New Jersey State Police and discussed the proper way to transport them.
“He bought them at Bass Pro Shops, for God’s sake, not some guy named Tony on the street corner,” his father said.
New Jersey and Colorado are on opposite ends of the gun-control spectrum. In Colorado, all he needed was the background check to own the guns.
In the Garden State, Aitken was required to have a purchaser’s permit from New Jersey to own the guns and a carry permit to have them in his car.
He also was charged with having “large capacity” magazines and hollow-point bullets, which one state gun-control advocate found troubling.
New Jersey allows exemptions for gun owners to transport weapons for hunting or if they are moving from one residence to another. During the trial, Aitken’s mother testified that her son was moving things out, and his friend in Hoboken testified he was moving things in. A Mount Laurel officer, according to Larry Aitken, testified that he saw boxes of dishes and clothes in the Honda Civic on the day of the arrest.
The exemption statute, according to the prosecutor’s office, specifies that legal guns can be transported “while moving.” Despite testimony about his moving to Hoboken, a spokesman for the prosecutor said the evidence suggested that Aitken had moved months earlier, from Colorado to Mount Laurel. “Again, there was no evidence that he was then presently moving,” spokesman Joel Bewley said.
After Nappen raised the moving-exemption issue, he said, the jury asked Judge Morley for the exemption statute several times and he refused to hand it over to them. Morley, in a phone interview, echoed the sentiments of the prosecutor’s office.
“My recollection of the case is that I ruled he had not presented evidence sufficient to justify giving the jury the charge on the affirmative offense that he was in the process of moving,” Morley said.
Source: Philly Inquirer
The evidence, at least to this author, suggests that Mr. Aitkens was, in fact, moving. His mother, roommate and the arresting office all testified to this. He had stowed his weapons according to NJ law. He had broken no laws that warranted his car being searched.
Nonetheless, whether it was in the interest of public safety (scoff) or because the judge and prosecutor didn’t want their egos bruised, Mr. Aitkens was convicted and sentenced to seven years.
Mr. Aitkens should not have been arrested or tried in the first place. Second, the fact that he was given seven years for this victimless “crime” is a travesty and afront to the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution, which is supposed to protect Americans against excessive cruel and unusual punishments.
Can anyone rightly argue that this punishment is not excessive, unusual, or cruel? Then again, given our modern day justice system, this doesn’t seem to be too unusual.
While innocent Americans, convicted of victimless crimes, are given excessive prison sentences for nothing, Wall Street bankers responsible for the destruction of our economic system and the lives of millions are not only not convicted, they’re rarely, if ever, even indicted.
It’s ridiculous to see people like Mr. Aitken having to go through this, with no support from faceless government bureaucrats, while thieves and corrupt Congressman like Charlie Rangle or our very own Treasury Secretary are given a pass and/or reduced punishments for their unethical and criminal behavior.