Governor Christie, You Have A Problem

 

shutterstock_95092702On Friday, our own Charles C. W. Cooke and Kevin Williamson discussed the latest firearms-related injustice from New Jersey, in which Carol Bowne was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend — against whom she had a restraining order — while awaiting approval to own a firearm. Cameron Gray ably took the matter up again yesterday, reiterating the injustice New Jersey committed against her.

Amazingly, there was yet more news on the Garden State’s terrible gun laws yesterday: Governor Chris Christie pardoned Steffon Josey-Davis for unlawful possession of a weapon (a felony). More specifically, Josey-Davis was charged and convicted for forgetting to unload his legal handgun and merely securing it in his glove compartment during a harried commute to work as a security guard. Though his legal troubles are now over, his financial ones are not, and his legal defense fund is still taking donations.

This is the third time I am aware of that Christie has intervened on behalf of a generally-lawful citizen — Shaneen Allen and Brian Aitken being the other two — charged with felony weapons violations. Despite the injustice and the fact that no one was actually in danger in these cases, the most unsettling aspect of these cases is that these people got into trouble because of their lawful and responsible instincts: Aitken came to authorities’ attention because his family called the police to say they were worried he might be suicidal, and found the guns he had stored in the trunk because he thought they’d be safer there than in his apartment; and and both Josey-Davis and Aitken would almost certainly have left the scene of their traffic stops with nothing more than a citation had they not disclosed to the arresting officers that they had a weapon on them. As Cooke and others have noted, Carol Bowne died in no small part because she was unwilling to break the law to protect herself.

The people Christie has pardoned are not exceptional in the sense of the particular circumstances of what they did, only insofar as their cases came to the attention of people who could help them fight back. New Jersey’s firearms laws — as well as the attitude its elected leaders and law enforcement officials have taken with regard to prosecuting them — are inherently illiberal. As welcome as these occasional pardons, commutations, and interventions are, they cannot remedy such systemically unjust laws. Bad laws breed contempt for the law itself, something everyone on the right — especially law-and-order types like Christie — should be appalled by.

Williamson and Cooke concluded that the Bowne case was an ideal point for Christie to use to pivot toward a more conservative take on the Second Amendment. They’re right. But with Josey-Davis pardon yesterday, he’s now got two good reasons.

Let’s hope that’s enough.

Signed Josey-Davis Pardon

Image credit: L.E.MORMILE / Shutterstock.com

There are 31 comments.

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  1. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Why do the citizens of New Jersey put up with these laws?  Do the majority of people there actually support locking up non-criminals for accidental offenses?  Do they think these strict laws actually keep guns out of the hands of criminals?

    • #1
  2. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    I didn’t want to belabor the point in the OP, but I think it’s also worth noting that both Davis-Josey and Allen are black can only feed the notion that the police have in for African Americans, no matter how above-board and law-abiding they may be. That’s a notion hardly limited to blacks, but it’s particularly rampant within and harmful to that community.

    Relatedly, the NAACP refused to take Davis-Josey’s case. Guess who did: the NRA.

    • #2
  3. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    An occasional pardon in reaction to media outrage is nice, but in all his years in office Christie has not made any attempts to change any of the laws that got these people locked up to begin with.

    If presidential ambitions can get us a freer NJ, that would be great. But I don’t think it’s going to happen.

    • #3
  4. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    When the effectiveness of criminal justice is evaluated on the same basis as a burger restaurant –number of people served– this result is inevitable.

    • #4
  5. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Randy Weivoda:Why do the citizens of New Jersey put up with these laws? Do the majority of people there actually support locking up non-criminals for accidental offenses? Do they think these strict laws actually keep guns out of the hands of criminals?

    Being from Jersey, I can shed a bit of light on this.  Most people in the garden state do not know anyone who legally owns a gun who isn’t cop.  You may know one person who owns a shotgun. There is zero culture of firearms use. Guns make most people there uneasy.

    Because of this, I was nearly 30 by the time I bought my first gun, despite supporting 2nd amendment rights for all of my adult life.  I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of owning one.  Teachers in schools indoctrinate kids with ideas like “You more likely to have the gun used against you than to successfully defend yourself with it.”

    The anti-gun laws and culture are so draconian that they have successfully rendered the state a gun free zone…among law abiding citizens.

    If you grow up around guns, you get comfortable around them.  That doesn’t happen much in New Jersey.

    • #5
  6. user_189393 Inactive
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    If you grow up around guns, you get comfortable around them.  That doesn’t happen much in New Jersey.

    This is why we need to encourage more people to shoot.  Make it so everyone knows someone who owns guns.

    • #6
  7. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Not that I disagree with your overall point, Tom, but am I the only one who’s uneasy with the sudden rush to claim, essentially, that New Jersey killed Carol Bowne? The, “If the state hadn’t dragged its feet, she might still be alive,” rhetoric just smacks of the sort of thing progressives say after a mass shooting. A woman is dead; we shouldn’t reduce her to a talking point.

    • #7
  8. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Umbra Fractus:Not that I disagree with your overall point, Tom, but am I the only one who’s uneasy with the sudden rush to claim, essentially, that New Jersey killed Carol Bowne? The, “If the state hadn’t dragged its feet, she might still be alive,” rhetoric just smacks of the sort of thing progressives say after a mass shooting. A woman is dead; we shouldn’t reduce her to a talking point.

    Actually, I think that’s a very good instinct to have and I share it (perhaps this wasn’t enough, but I did say that she “died in no small part because she was unwilling to break the law to protect herself.”) Lest there be any confusion her boyfriend killed her, not New Jersey and no life should be reduced to a talking point, as you say. Here’s a short obit for her that doesn’t touch on her death.

    That said, “honest citizen murdered while awaiting state permission to defend herself with a firearm” is about as clear cut and damning as can be.

    • #8
  9. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Umbra Fractus:Not that I disagree with your overall point, Tom, but am I the only one who’s uneasy with the sudden rush to claim, essentially, that New Jersey killed Carol Bowne? The, “If the state hadn’t dragged its feet, she might still be alive,” rhetoric just smacks of the sort of thing progressives say after a mass shooting. A woman is dead; we shouldn’t reduce her to a talking point.

    I haven’t seen this framed as “New Jersey killed Carol Browne.” I’ve seen this framed (quite correctly) as “New Jersey denied Carol Browne her natural right to self defense.”

    • #9
  10. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Frank Soto:

    Being from Jersey, I can shed a bit of light on this. Most people in the garden state do not know anyone who legally owns a gun who isn’t cop. You may know one person who owns a shotgun. There is zero culture of firearms use. Guns make most people there uneasy.

    Because of this, I was nearly 30 by the time I bought my first gun, despite supporting 2nd amendment rights for all of my adult life. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of owning one. Teachers in schools indoctrinate kids with ideas like “You more likely to have the gun used against you than to successfully defend yourself with it.”

    Massachusetts is much the same. The entry costs are so cumbersome and prohibitive that few people get any exposure to firearms, which means they remain largely ignorant of them.

    As Barkha said, this is why it’s important to offer to take your liberal friends to the range. Speaking of which, I need to follow-up with two of them on that…

    • #10
  11. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Frank Soto:

    Randy Weivoda:Why do the citizens of New Jersey put up with these laws? Do the majority of people there actually support locking up non-criminals for accidental offenses? Do they think these strict laws actually keep guns out of the hands of criminals?

    Being from Jersey, I can shed a bit of light on this. Most people in the garden state do not know anyone who legally owns a gun who isn’t cop. You may know one person who owns a shotgun. There is zero culture of firearms use. Guns make most people there uneasy.

    Because of this, I was nearly 30 by the time I bought my first gun, despite supporting 2nd amendment rights for all of my adult life. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of owning one. Teachers in schools indoctrinate kids with ideas like “You more likely to have the gun used against you than to successfully defend yourself with it.”

    The anti-gun laws and culture are so draconian that they have successfully rendered the state a gun free zone…among law abiding citizens.

    If you grow up around guns, you get comfortable around them. That doesn’t happen much in New Jersey.

    In 2012 over 58% of NJ voters went for Obama. So, lack of exposure is one reason but the high concentration of left-wing loons is another big problem.

    • #11
  12. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Vance Richards:

    In 2012 over 58% of NJ voters went for Obama. So, lack of exposure is one reason but the high concentration of left-wing loons is another big problem.

    And yet, Vermont has almost no anti-gun laws and went for Obama with over 66% of the vote.

    The difference is the culture of firearms that Vermont has.  That’s why they won’t put up with this type of governance from liberals.

    • #12
  13. user_189393 Inactive
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    I have family in Wisconsin that is very lefty.  They all own guns.  The idea that all people who are pro gun are Republicans is a faulty premise.

    • #13
  14. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Frank Soto: I haven’t seen this framed as “New Jersey killed Carol Browne. I’ve seen this framed (quite correctly) as “New Jersey denied Carol Browne her natural right to self defense.”

    In fairness, I haven’t seen it stated explicitly in the terms I used. It’s possible I’ve gotten over-sensitive to that sort of thing after years of “The NRA shot up a kindergarten,” and “Sarah Palin shot Gabby Giffords.”

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Actually, I think that’s a very good instinct to have and I share it (perhaps this wasn’t enough, but I did say that she “died in no small part no small part because she was unwilling to break the law to protect herself.”) Lest there be any confusion her boyfriend killed her, not New Jersey and no life should be reduced to a talking point, as you say. Here’s a short obit for her that doesn’t touch on her death.

    Don’t worry; I didn’t mean your post. I was speaking about the reaction from the right in general.

    • #14
  15. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Christie deserves criticism on a lot of issues, but failing to give this issue priority to appease our ideological fervor when it has zero chance in a Dem legislature should not be one of them.

    • #15
  16. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Petty Boozswha:Christie deserves criticism on a lot of issues, but failing to give this issue priority to appease our ideological fervor when it has zero chance in a Dem legislature should not be one of them.

    Given that he’s not running for re-election as governor — and seems to want to run for president — I don’t see what he has to lose.

    And look, I don’t expect NJ to become Arizona, Vermont, or — God permit — Maine (see Section 16), but some attempt to rectify the worst abuses would be very good for the state.

    • #16
  17. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I think he still feels an obligation to be the Governor of a state with massive, massive problems – a pension system that’s in Illinois territory, Atlantic City looks like Dresden after the war, Mercedes-Benz of NA just pulled over a thousand jobs and moved to Atlanta… he has a lot on his plate and sees this issue as a distraction.

    • #17
  18. FightinInPhilly Coolidge
    FightinInPhilly
    @FightinInPhilly

    Frank Soto:

    Vance Richards:

    In 2012 over 58% of NJ voters went for Obama. So, lack of exposure is one reason but the high concentration of left-wing loons is another big problem.

    And yet, Vermont has almost no anti-gun laws and went for Obama with over 66% of the vote.

    The difference is the culture of firearms that Vermont has. That’s why they won’t put up with this type of governance from liberals.

    I’m with Frank here. Growing up in Jersey guns were simply not part of the everyday experience. Even duck hunters in the rural parts of south jersey are a tiny number, and restricted to a short season in the fall. The reason so many dumb laws are allowed to expand is that for most people they are as relevant as restricting the number of times they may attend the ballet.

    Ultimately, this is a situation with the population density makes it a difficult activity to enjoy recreationally, and thus will never have the cultural support among the general population.  Remember, from Philadelphia to Newark to New York is basically one, single, continuous, suburb. Gun ranges are fun from time to time, but they are about as relevant to true enjoyment as roller hockey is to ice.

    That’s no excuse for dumb laws that punish law abiding citizens, but there is a reason the Duck Dynasty ratings never got above a 1 in the Garden State.

    • #18
  19. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Petty Boozswha:Christie deserves criticism on a lot of issues, but failing to give this issue priority to appease our ideological fervor when it has zero chance in a Dem legislature should not be one of them.

    Given that he’s not running for re-election as governor — and seems to want to run for president — I don’t see what he has to lose.

    And look, I don’t expect NJ to become Arizona, Vermont, or — God permit — Maine (see Section 16), but some attempt to rectify the worst abuses would be very good for the state.

    If you stop to get gas on your way to the range with your legal handgun unloaded and locked in a case in the trunk of your car, you have broken the law in Jersey. I think there are definitely some nitpicky laws that could find some bi-partisan support to revise.

    • #19
  20. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Frank Soto:

    Randy Weivoda:Why do the citizens of New Jersey put up with these laws? Do the majority of people there actually support locking up non-criminals for accidental offenses? Do they think these strict laws actually keep guns out of the hands of criminals?

    Being from Jersey, I can shed a bit of light on this. Most people in the garden state do not know anyone who legally owns a gun who isn’t cop. You may know one person who owns a shotgun. There is zero culture of firearms use. Guns make most people there uneasy.

    Because of this, I was nearly 30 by the time I bought my first gun, despite supporting 2nd amendment rights for all of my adult life. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of owning one. Teachers in schools indoctrinate kids with ideas like “You more likely to have the gun used against you than to successfully defend yourself with it.”

    The anti-gun laws and culture are so draconian that they have successfully rendered the state a gun free zone…among law abiding citizens.

    If you grow up around guns, you get comfortable around them. That doesn’t happen much in New Jersey.

    One more reason to move south, eh?

    • #20
  21. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Frank Soto:

    Being from Jersey, I can shed a bit of light on this. Most people in the garden state do not know anyone who legally owns a gun who isn’t cop. You may know one person who owns a shotgun. There is zero culture of firearms use. Guns make most people there uneasy.

    Because of this, I was nearly 30 by the time I bought my first gun, despite supporting 2nd amendment rights for all of my adult life. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of owning one. Teachers in schools indoctrinate kids with ideas like “You more likely to have the gun used against you than to successfully defend yourself with it.”

    The anti-gun laws and culture are so draconian that they have successfully rendered the state a gun free zone…among law abiding citizens.

    If you grow up around guns, you get comfortable around them. That doesn’t happen much in New Jersey.

    One more reason to move south, eh?

    No way I’m ever going back.  I may one day move somewhere less hot, but there is no chance I head back to the North East.

    • #21
  22. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    If you grow up around guns, you get comfortable around them. That doesn’t happen much in New Jersey.

    One more reason to move south, eh?

    I don’t think you fine folks can quite match Northern New England on the matter. Consider the Maine constitution:

    Section 16. To keep and bear arms. Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.

    • #22
  23. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Frank Soto:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Frank Soto:

    Being from Jersey, I can shed a bit of light on this. Most people in the garden state do not know anyone who legally owns a gun who isn’t cop. You may know one person who owns a shotgun. There is zero culture of firearms use. Guns make most people there uneasy.

    Because of this, I was nearly 30 by the time I bought my first gun, despite supporting 2nd amendment rights for all of my adult life. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of owning one. Teachers in schools indoctrinate kids with ideas like “You more likely to have the gun used against you than to successfully defend yourself with it.”

    The anti-gun laws and culture are so draconian that they have successfully rendered the state a gun free zone…among law abiding citizens.

    If you grow up around guns, you get comfortable around them. That doesn’t happen much in New Jersey.

    One more reason to move south, eh?

    No way I’m ever going back. I may one day move somewhere less hot, but there is no chance I head back to the North East.

    We need to do an Atlanta meet up again!

    • #23
  24. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    If you grow up around guns, you get comfortable around them. That doesn’t happen much in New Jersey.

    One more reason to move south, eh?

    I don’t think you fine folks can quite match Northern New England on the matter. Consider the Maine constitution:

    Section 16. To keep and bear arms. Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.

    Yeah, but I got a CCW permit, and less snow.

    :)

    • #24
  25. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Yeah, but I got a CCW permit, and less snow.

    :)

    Why should this even require a permit? In Wa (admittedly a shall issue state) I need the concealment permit to carry my gun loaded in my car, even if it’s in a locked case in the trunk, the three minutes to a trailhead where I hike. If I want to open carry (also allowed in this state) I have to load and unload every time I exit or enter the vehicle or have the permit. Even in the gun-friendliest states government does not want to contend with an armed citizenry. Every law is aimed at restricting law abiding gun owners.

    • #25
  26. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The King Prawn:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Yeah, but I got a CCW permit, and less snow.

    :)

    Why should this even require a permit? In Wa (admittedly a shall issue state) I need the concealment permit to carry my gun loaded in my car, even if it’s in a locked case in the trunk, the three minutes to a trailhead where I hike. If I want to open carry (also allowed in this state) I have to load and unload every time I exit or enter the vehicle or have the permit. Even in the gun-friendliest states government does not want to contend with an armed citizenry. Every law is aimed at restricting law abiding gun owners.

    It is not all that restrictive in GA. I agree, I think there should not be public restrictions (private owners can say whatever), but GA is really pretty unrestricted. Don’t be a felon.

    Now, we can debate if we think felon’s should have access to guns, or to vote or what not ( I think once one if off parole or probation, it should all come back to them), however, that is not all that restrictive.

    It is harder to get a DL in GA

    • #26
  27. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    It is harder to get a DL in GA

    I spent a few months in King’s Bay, so that makes sense to me.

    • #27
  28. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    What boggles the mind is that the Leftists can’t understand that the gun debate was settled by the Constitution, expressly, while the SSM and abortion debates were not.

    OK, actually it doesn’t boggle the mind, because as I understand it, Leftists believe that the Constitution means just whatever they want it to mean at any given moment.  (With due credit for the quote to Harry Hopkins, even if he was a Leftist.)

    • #28
  29. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Christie is crossed off my list . . . actually, he has been for quite a while.  Regardless of what his positions on issues are, a good politician should recognize when he can score huge political points and support for popular actions.

    Case in point:  Shaheen Allen, and the old guy (forgot his name) who ran afoul of New Jersey’s gun laws.  He should have pardoned them, then verbally chastised their prosecutors in the press for failure to use prosecutorial discretion the right way.

    However, after this latest murder, Christie should push the state legislature to liberalize the gun laws such that normal citizens can buy a gun without a big hassle.  The woman who was recently murdered gave her life (as Mark Styen filling in for Rush put it) trying to obey the law.

    • #29
  30. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Stad:Case in point: Shaheen Allen, and the old guy (forgot his name) who ran afoul of New Jersey’s gun laws. He should have pardoned them, then verbally chastised their prosecutors in the press for failure to use prosecutorial discretion the right way.

    Oh yeah.  I forgot about the old guy who collected historical artifacts and got arrested for buying a non-functional colonial-era firearm without getting a permit for it.  What a hateful bunch of S.O.B.’s.  Maybe Chris Christie is as conservative as you could possibly be and still get elected in New Jersey.  But we can do much better in a president.

    • #30

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