As many as 100 cases with the same circumstances as Allen’s are currently pending and may find their fates improved because of the media and public pressure that surrounded the very sympathetic Allen’s case. “In Jersey,” explains Nappen, lawyer for both Aitken and Allen, “gun owners are guilty until they prove themselves innocent” very literally—they need to prove their gun ownership and movement fit into a small series of exemptions. Nappen says that he and Allen were being pressured on all sides to plea out and not fight the case. He tells me about Superior Court Judge Michael Donio who mocked lawyers like Nappen who actually tried to defend their clients when he sentenced another Graves Act defendant who pled out to just two years’ probation.
Despite the obvious injustice of Aitken’s and Allen’s stories, enforcement of similar laws when it comes to gun possession still happens. In New York airports make a practice of arresting citizens doing their best to scrupulously obey regulations on how to transport weapons back and forth from where they are legally owned and, where necessary, permitted. But despite FOPA, New York airports use the loophole of airports not being explicitly mentioned in the law to arrest and fine people for violating local gun law. While rarely sending them to prison past their initial arrest, New York steals from them time, money, and their weapons, which are confiscated and never returned. In 2013, 25 citizens trying to abide by the law got thusly nabbed in New York City airports; in 2006 it had been 51.
Laws that turn perfectly peaceful acts related to weapon ownership into crimes are growing, as seen in Washington’s newly passed Initiative 594. That law makes Washingtonians who innocently transfer property they legitimately own—but without jumping through government hoops the way the government requires—into criminals.
Meanwhile, the federal U.S.C. 922, whose various provisions are almost entirely about creating a technical crime out of the mere nonviolent, nonharmful owning, selling, or transferring of weapons, saw 5,764 convictions in fiscal year 2014, 660 in September alone.
The injustice Aitken suffered—someone who harmed no one and was doing his best to obey the law sentenced to seven years in prison—was, Aitken has come to believe, “a direct result of the liberal war on inanimate objects.” Such injustices “are the intended consequences. They are not unintended. They are exactly what [proponents of tougher, more complicated gun possession and use regulations] want.”
FK – It’s incredible to me that we’re not hunting and eradicating the trash responsible for this evil.