New Jersey’s history with Second Amendment rights has been sketchy, to put it mildly. It’s a fact which dogged Governor Chris Christie on the campaign trail right up until he dropped out of the presidential race a few weeks ago and little has changed recently. But one rather commonplace traffic accident has brought the issue back to light this week and it represents yet another test for both the Governor and the voters in terms of gun rights. A Pennsylvania corrections officer was involved in a car crash in January on his way back from Atlantic City and when New Jersey police arrived on the scene he informed them that he had his handgun in the car. (Which you should always do when speaking with the police.) What happened in the days that followed is the stuff of parody. (Yahoo News)
A Pennsylvania corrections officer who says he was the victim of a car accident in New Jersey ended up facing charges himself when he told police he had a handgun.
Raymond Hughes told The Associated Press on Friday that he and his wife were on their way home from a concert and dinner in Atlantic City last month when the crash occurred in Glassboro.
He told police he had a handgun under his seat, and officers secured his personal 9mm Glock handgun while he went to the hospital, he said. But days later, he was charged with not having a New Jersey permit despite having a license to carry in neighboring Pennsylvania.
“I’m one of the good guys,” Hughes said. “Now they’re trying to make me one of the people I protect society from.”
You’ll note that this wasn’t a case of Hughes shooting anyone, drawing his weapon on people or doing anything else related the presence of his Glock on New Jersey soil. He had it in the car with him as part of his normal routine. And now, according to the press release, he’s looking at the possibility of a minimum of three and a half years in jail if convicted. Hughes is a prison supervisor, not a police officer, so he’s apparently not covered by the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act.
Last year, Chris Christie issued roughly half a dozen pardons to legal gun owners who were caught up in Jersey’s oppressive gun laws, including three in October and another for a Marine in December. When those pardons were handed down, some of the more skeptical observers hinted that he might have been doing it to impress conservatives in early primary states. Now that he’s off the presidential campaign trail and not facing another election for Governor because of term limits, he’s pretty much free to do as he chooses. This is his chance to cement his legacy in one regard and show that he truly supports the Second Amendment in his heart and not just when he needs a few points in the polls.
Of course, the real solution to the problem is beyond his grasp. New Jersey doesn’t recognize the gun rights of visitors from any other states. Without that reciprocity, you run into problems that you’d never see in states with more equitable gun laws. But as long as the Democrats control Trenton, there’s not much Christie can do other than pardon people who are arrested under such circumstances until he leaves office.