First, this isn’t some rant over why we should not have more restrictive gun laws…it’s about possession laws. Possession laws are some of the most misunderstood laws facing gun owners. Far more than the criminal laws which generally make a lot more sense because they are relating to a specific crime (and usually a violent act).
Take for example the situation happening in New Jersey. They have some of the strictest “Possession Laws” in the country. They have very strict firearm possession laws that result in jail time. A great article describing this was published in New Jersey 101.5, “A push to cut those caught with guns a little slack.”
As you may have heard in various news stories, several people (from other states who have legal gun permits) have been arrested and are facing jail time because of accidentally bringing their firearms in the Garden State. Some New Jersey legislators, led by Jon Bramnick, an Assembly Republican leader, believe this is not right and are trying to change the law to be much less restrictive.
They would like to see “prosecutorial discretion when it comes to reducing the level of the crime and not imposing a mandatory jail term,” according to Branmick. Their point is not about “weakening gun laws” but making some of these more discretionary based on certain circumstances. For example, there are some great quotes from the article that help summarize why this is important…
“It’s about getting rid of stupid laws that are destroying perfectly innocent reasonably behaving people,” from Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon.
Bramnick said, “Another reason is because of situations that could result in the arrest of someone who has legally purchased a gun in another state, but brought it to New Jersey tor a non-criminal purpose, such as a gift. For example, a grandmother from Pennsylvania legally buys a BB gun for her grandson, she could be arrested and placed behind bars if she brings the firearm to New Jersey. The law is clear, there is no plea bargaining, it is minimum mandatory three years in prison for grandma.”
While you might not be visiting New Jersey, traveling to other states that have local “possession laws” can be a problem if you don’t check out the laws in the states you are traveling through or staying for a visit. You need to know what the laws are and how they can affect you.
Whether the law happens to be a good one or a stupid one, we, as gun owners, are responsible to know what these are and how they affect us. I hope to continue writing about these to help you better understand the laws and the impact they can have on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Suffice it to say, they are complicated and sometimes not as clear as you would like them to be. But the law doesn’t have much forgiveness for a lack of understanding…as they say, ignorance is no excuse for violating a law. Gun laws aren’t an exception. Hopefully we can help you continue to learn more about possession laws so you can stay out of jail and enjoy your firearms!