Governor Christie Should Pardon Brian Aitken
Many on the right deeply admire New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's fearless attitude and his ongoing war with the state's spoiled teachers' unions has made him a political star. Pundits are already pushing Christie to consider a 2012 presidential run. For his part, Christie has quashed rumors he may be running, saying that he is dedicated to solving the problems of New Jersey.
That said, Christie is a politician. If the Republican primary field offers up no other strong contenders, he could be convinced to run for the White House -- "for the good of the people," of course.
But the biggest hurdle in the way of his 2012 run seems to be cropping up in a storm gathering around a mild-mannered media consultant and graduate student named Brian Aitken, who was sentenced to seven years in jail by the collusion of an incompetent judge and New Jersey's unreasonable gun laws.
Aitken legally purchased two handguns at Bass Pro Shops while living in Colorado, after undergoing the required FBI background checks. When he planned to move back to New Jersey to be near his young son and estranged wife, he had the foresight to call the State Police to inquire about how he could legally transport his firearms.
While in New Jersey at his mother's home, he became angry with his ex-wife when she denied him a chance to see their young son. He stormed out of the house in anger and went for a drive to cool off. His mother, a social worker, thought he may have sounded suicidal, called 911, and then hung up, thinking she probably overreacted. The police traced the call and showed up at her home, and then they placed a call to Aitken, who returned to his mother's home and successfully reassured officers that, while he was distraught and stressed, he was hardly a suicide risk.
And then -- for reasons not fully explained -- police searched Aitken's car, and at the bottom of his personal possessions found the disassembled firearms locked in cases inside a duffel bag. Then the problems began.
New Jersey and Colorado are on opposite ends of the gun-control spectrum. In Colorado, all he needed was the background check to own the guns. In the Garden State, Aitken was required to have a purchaser's permit from New Jersey to own the guns and a carry permit to have them in his car.
He also was charged with having "large capacity" magazines and hollow-point bullets, which one state gun-control advocate found troubling: "What little I can glean about the transportation issue leaves me puzzled, but a person with common sense would not be moving illegal products from one place to another by car," said Bryan Miller, executive director of Ceasefire NJ, an organization devoted to reducing gun violence.
Aitken couldn't have a New Jersey purchaser's permit, because he bought his handguns -- after an FBI background check -- in Colorado. Nor could he have a carry permit, having just moved back to the state. Most troubling, however, is that even though he had neither of these hard-to-acquire documents, he was protected under an exemption that allows gun owners to transport locked and unloaded firearms from one residence to another while moving.
So why is Aitken in prison?