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 /

Published in Guns
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  1. user_656019 Coolidge

    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 the 70’s when I was growing up in New Jersey, my father would have been able to legally own a rifle (.22 for target shooting) but for being convicted of having assaulted my mother while defending himself against my mother assaulting him. In other words, he had a record. That’s why I didn’t grow up around guns. Today, you can only get a license if they agree that you have a good justification, which few do, even without a record.

    The people being hurt most by these draconian gun laws in NJ are minorities who live in the crime ridden inner cities.

    I also share not being comfortable with the idea of owning a gun, even today.

    • #31
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