09 Jul 2008

The Heller Decision Came Just in Time

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A little overenthusiasm on the part of New Jersey’s State Legislature in drafting one more anti-gang measure may send a harmless 20-year-old sales clerk to jail for three years for BB-gun possession.

MyCentralJersey.com:

Caught speeding in Highland Park in April in his father’s Acura RSX, Ryan Narciso found out the hard way about a recent change in a New Jersey gun law that could send him to prison for three years.

The 20-year-old sales clerk at a shop at Menlo Park Mall and former Middlesex County College student had a pellet handgun in the car, according to an indictment filed last week in Superior Court, New Brunswick. …

Narciso’s father, an architect, bought the pellet gun at a garage sale a few years ago to fend off squirrels that made their way into the attic of the families home on Mount Pleasant Avenue in Edison, the father and Narciso’s lawyer, Amilcar Perez of Perth Amboy, said.

Under a new state law, Narciso’s possession of the weapon qualifies as a Graves Act offense. Narciso could face what prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys call a “hard three,” meaning three years with no prospect of parole.

But a state official Wednesday acknowledged that the draconian measure made its way into law by mistake.

The Graves Act, adopted in 1981 and named after Frank X. Graves Jr., the late state senator and law-and-order mayor of Paterson known for patroling the city, outlined mandatory-minimum prison sentences for anyone guilty of using a gun in the commission of a crime in New Jersey. A burglar caught with a handgun, for instance, faced a solid three years behind bars for the gun crime alone.

With little or no fanfare, lawmakers stiffened the Graves Act in the last session. They folded the amendment into anti-gang legislation that Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed into law in January.

Now, the simple unlawful possession of any firearm can bring mandatory penalties for anyone who pleads guilty to or is convicted of that crime alone.

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6 Feedbacks on "The Heller Decision Came Just in Time"

kman

I certainly hope the guy gets himself a good lawyer, this would be an excellent case to assert Heller.

It comes as a surprise to many that in NJ a simple BB gun, which has barely enough power to hurt anything or anyone, is subject to the same ridiculous laws that NJ applies to handguns. The car the guy was speeding in was more dangerous than that BB gun. And he is looking at HOW MANY years in prison? The general belief by the public that there are “not enough” gun laws is entirely rebutted here. Honest gun owners are so totally oppressed by the current laws that they literally have to become experts in the law in order to keep themselves out of jail. Owning and responsibly practicing target shooting with a handgun in New Jersey is a harrowing experience, because the law is so strict that literally stopping for lunch on the way back from the range can put you in jail for years on a felony conviction. Meanwhile, outright criminals simply disregard these laws. It is high time that New Jersey reforms its firearms laws in order to leave the regular law abiding people alone, and allows them to obtain licenses to carry handguns so that they may defend themselves. In most states of the country you can get a handgun carry permit so long as you have no felony convictions and take a class reviewing the law, and demonstrate proficiency with a firearm. In those states, licensed individuals have not given any problems. Police opposition to the enactment of civilian concealed carry generally disappears within a year or two after the law goes into effect, as police realize that licensed concealed carry holders give them no problems, and in fact reduce crime, and in fact are a resource to provide them back-up. Licensed concealed carry permit holders are on their side – and have many times come to the aid of the police. Once a similar law is passed in New Jersey, the police in New Jersey will come to the same conclusion. There simply is no need to have the NJ Police openly oppress law abiding gun owners in this state, when they have real criminals to apprehend. Anyone can see that law enforcement and court resources spent prosecuting someone over a BB gun is a supreme waste and is a personal tragedy for the person who is being prosecuted, whose life will be wrecked by a felony conviction for no reason at all other than he unintentionally violated a blatantly unconstitutional and unjust law.



July 15 roundup

[…] Bought a BB gun to fend off squirrels, now his 20-year-old son faces three years for bare possession [MyCentralJersey.com via Zincavage] […]



Barry

There’s a discrepancy between your report and the newspaper’s.

You say he’s being prosecuted for possessing a BB gun while the paper said it was a pellet gun. A pellet gun can deliver a substantial injury because the pellet is the size ofr a .22 slug, as opposed to the much smaller BB.

Which is it? And why did he have it in the car if it was to be used for squirrels in the house?

There’s more to this than meets the eye (usually a BB).



JDZ

A BB is .177 caliber.

A pellet gun can be either .177 or .22 caliber. The former can shoot BBs or pellets.

Typically, one would get better penetration on rodents or birds with a .177 pellet than with a .22 pellet.

The .05″ difference does not produce a meaningful likelihood of “substantial injury.”

You don’t want to get shot in the eye with a .177 or a .22 ordinary pellet gun, but neither is likely to produce any serious injury to a human being anywhere else.



w thickstun

he could have put his eye out. what a ridiculous state we live in. My grandkids in Fla. (ages 8-14) had bb/pellet guns for years and no problems. WHEN WILL COMMON SENSE PREVAIL.



SJ

When will common sense prevail? So long as
the legislature is passes this stuff like this…never.



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