WTF NJ?

The NRA reports that a guy just got 8 years in prison for having guns in locked cases, which he was transporting from one house to another, while moving. New Jersey’s restrictive gun laws provide an exception for just this situation, but the NRA claims that the judge refused to tell the jury that. (source)

Update: Reason has a more fleshed out discussion of the case here.

6 Responses to WTF NJ?

  1. McKingford says:

    I long ago learned that reporting on most legal issues and cases is garbage. So when a story sounds too much like bullshit to be true (eg. burglar successfully sues homeowner for mishap while breaking into house) it is almost invariably bullshit. This is especially the case when the bullshit-like story is being peddled by a special interest group well-known for its bullshit.

    • Rogier says:

      McKingford: In the three minutes it took you to sign and in and type your response, you could instead have googled some of the fact about the case that went way further than the NRA press release. I’ve been following the Aitkens saga a bit and have yet to see that it’s a trumped-up bit of BS cooked up by gun nuts. I’d say, start here: http://reason.com/archives/2010/11/15/brian-aitkens-mistake/

      • Bad Monkey says:

        @Rogier – Thank you, very much, for posting a link to a write up which actually includes enough details to be worth a damn.

        McKingford is right though, the original source would be highly questionable, and it is fair criticism of a blog entry to say it’s linking to material of a questionable nature. It’s going on right now actually on another blog on what the Drudge Report has been linking to.

        Even if one was to make the same claim about the link you gave though at least it includes details worth knowing in order to draw a conclusion. The NRA piece, well, it does read like a press release, not a story. The Reason article makes a much stronger piece.

        Perhaps the NRA should have linked to it.

      • McKingford says:

        Well, it is important to differentiate actual facts from the defendant’s *claim*.

        I’m a criminal lawyer, so I understand that when a case is reported as “defendant receives 8 years when all he was doing was moving his guns”, that it is probably the case that he was *not* simply “moving” his guns (although that may well be what he claims).

        For instance, we heard bloviatings for years from nuts who said that Ramos and Compean were two poor border guards just doing their job and got sentenced to 11 years for defending themselves from a dangerous drug smuggler. Well, yes, it was certainly their *claim* that they were acting in self defence, but given the verdict and sentence their claim was disbelieved (as on the actual facts of the case, they shot a guy in the back and then went to great lengths to cover it up).

        In short, there is a danger in conflating the defence with the actual facts in the case. When we hear the results (guilty verdict & 8 year sentence) contrasted with the defendant’s claim, the case often seems incredibly unjust. But that is usually (although not invariably) because the defendant’s claim was rejected by the jury/judge: ie. the result could only be achieved if the defence failed or was disbelieved. I’m not saying that is what happened here, but I am saying that we need to be cautious before simply accepting the NRA version of events.

        • Rogier says:

          Sounds reasonable. I applaud anyone who doesn’t take anything at face value and wants to see beyond the special-interests hype.

          But that wasn’t really my point. My point was that you made no apparent effort to do that in this case. You decided that it was more appropriate to take the time call this story almost certainly “bullshit” purely on account of who the messenger turned out to be. You could have taken that time to quickly google the name Brian Aitken, and see if your justifiable initial suspicisions were borne out by the facts of the case.

          Was the story “bullshit,” McKingford?

  2. Andrew says:

    my understanding is that he went to visit his parents with the handguns in the trunk of his car, then left their home with them still there. Because he wasn’t moving into or out of his parents house, under NJ law he was not allowed to have them in the car for the trip there. He was “moving” but from CO to NJ (and not to his parents house, but to a different residence in NJ). It’s an awful law, and needs to be changed. (for example, it would probably be a violation to stop for dinner on the way home from a shooting or hunting excursion when handguns are in your car, at least if doing so required any deviation from your route home)

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