First, please let me assure you that we have not forgotten about Assemblywoman Linda Stender's Bill A1216. We have been waiting for an answer from her as to why the Union County Prosecutor believes that the law as it is currently written "is confusing". I called her office recently to see if she had received an answer and I was informed that she had not. In the meantime, we have done our own research and have spoken with other prosecutors, former prosecutors and lawyers who have confirmed our original opinion that there simply is no reason for any confusion.
NJS 2C:39-5 (e) (1) is the section of the statute in question. It currently provides for a third degree penalty for simple possession of a firearm on school property. ASW Stender’s bill proposes a change that "Upgrades penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm on grounds of an educational institution" from a third to a second degree penalty. Her original stated intention was to "even out" the penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm on school property so that it would not be less of a penalty than unlawful possession of a firearm when not on school property. However, that is not what this bill accomplishes.
Those of us who are familiar with NJ Firearms statutes know that unlawful possession of a firearm is already a crime of the second degree whether or not you are on school property. So is possession by a prohibited person. There is no need to "upgrade" any penalties. As for "confusion", any prosecutor who is capable of doing his or her job should be perfectly capable of demonstrating criminal action or intent where it exists, or that the individual is a prohibited person. Where is the confusion?
What Linda Stender's bill WOULD do is put otherwise innocent gun owners at risk of being convicted of a second degree felony carrying a SEVEN to TEN YEAR prison sentence! How is this possible? Suppose that you are a mom who is at the range trying to improve your marksmanship so that you can safely and effectively protect your family should the need arise. Suddenly you receive a call on your cell from the school nurse telling you that your child has a high fever and is vomiting. You stop what you are doing, jump into your car and proceed to your child's school.
Under Linda Stender’s "upgrade" you are now AUTOMATICALLY guilty of a crime of the second degree. You have done nothing but show concern for your child; however you just committed a felony. Worse, since a second degree crime involving a firearm engages the GRAVES ACT, the prosecutor and the judge have no room for discretion. If you are convicted, you will receive a MANDATORY prison sentence of 7 to 10 years, minimum 5 with no chance of parole for 3.
The way the law is currently written, if you are in possession of a firearm on school property, but there is no evidence of any ill intent and you are not a dangerous felon, mentally incompetent or otherwise a prohibited person, the prosecutor and judge have the discretion to minimize or even eliminate the penalty based on the circumstances. Which result do you think is a just application of the law? As it now stands, criminals still receive penalties reserved for those who commit second degree offenses, and otherwise innocent gun owners are protected from excessive prosecution. This will all change if Linda Stender's bill is successful.
We have made more than a good faith effort to convince the Assemblywoman of the injustice of this bill. Al Dolce of Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club, Robert Viden, Scott Bach and Craig Dear of ANJRPC and I all testified before the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. We described over and over again how this bill endangers innocent gun owners while doing NOTHING to protect our children or punish actual criminals. We met with Linda Stender in a follow up meeting to go over all this testimony again. So far, she has refused to withdraw Assembly Bill A1216.
Now is the time for action. Please email, FAX, write, call and visit Linda Stender’s office. As always, be polite, professional and firm. Here is the relevant contact information:
Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D)
DISTRICT OFFICE ADDRESS:
1801 East Second St. 2nd Floor
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076
PHONE NUMBER: (908) 668-1900
FAX NUMBER: (908) 668-9962
I discussed this situation on the Gun For Hire Radio Program with Anthony Colandro, Sandy Berardi and Evan Nappen on Friday evening 6/29/2012. This podcast was recorded live at Bangers Sport Shop in Winslow, NJ and will air on Sunday 7/1/12. Many of you were there to support us and to congratulate Evan on his recent win in Federal Court. Thank you for attending and for your support. I have also discussed our campaign with Tom P. of Rack & Fin Radio on his program which aired on ESPN 97.3 Radio this Saturday 6/30/12.
We are launching this campaign as a UNITED front with Bob Viden, long time 2A advocate and President of the NJ Retail Firearms Dealers Association as well as a regional VP of the ANJRPC, Craig Dear who testified with us before the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee and who is also on the board of the ANJRPC, Al Dolce of Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club and the Wounded Warriors and Rabbi Dovid Bendory (AKA THE GUN RABBI) of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. We ask all the 2A/RKBA and other rights oriented organizations to join us in this effort. This bill affects all FREEDOM loving individuals in New Jersey and throughout our Nation.
Please keep this campaign going on a daily basis until Linda Stender agrees to withdraw Assembly Bill A1216. THANK YOU!
Frank Jack Fiamingo
President - NJ2AS
"NOW IS THE TIME!!!"