Once a week or so, I Google news of â€œNJ gun arrest.â€Â Up pops a story from nj.com.Â They are like formulaic obituaries. Â There are two stories. Â The first one is so predictable as to make me think the Star Ledger gives cub reporters a template â€“ mad-libs for the web.
Gun arrest story template
Police from [Camden, Paterson, Jersey City, or Newark] arrested [insert name here] at [insert time here] in [number] block of [street]. Â While officers were in the process of making the arrests, the suspect allegedly attempted to flee, discarding a [handgun and/or bag of suspected narcotics] which was recovered by the police.
[Insert mugshot of person of color here]
[name] was charged with possession of a loaded handgun by a prohibited person and possession of [number] bags of suspected heroin.Â [name]â€™s bail was set at $100,000 cash or bond.Â He was charged with various weapons and drug offenses and obstruction by attempting to flee.
Itâ€™s a sad story.Â That person is going a way for a long time. Â The question is whether the gun made the crime of drug distribution any worse. Â Drug pushers shoot their competitors, not their customers. Â The damage they do to drug users is with the heroin, not with the pistol. Â Yes, it allows the district attorney to jack up the number of counts and the minimum sentence.
Another NJ gun arrest story â€“ not as common
During the course of a traffic stop, police from [pick any NJ municipality] arrested [insert name here] a resident of [insert state name here] at [insert time here] in [number] block of [street] with a [insert caliber] handgun. Â [insert a long story of why the suspect was in New Jersey]Â While officers were in the process of searching the suspectâ€™s vehicle, they discovered hollow point ammunition.
[Insert mugshot of person]
[name] was charged with possession of a handgun without a permit and prohibited ammunition. Â [name] is being held in lieu of bail set in the amount of $100,000 cash only.
This is a sad story too. Â Itâ€™s particularly sad for New Jersey taxpayers. Â Possession of a handgun in NJ, loaded or not, is a second degree offense with a mandatory minimum 42 months imprisonment. Â The only exceptions are possession in your home, at your business, or in a container in a vehicle on the â€œmost direct routeâ€ between home and a gun range. Â The visitor from out of state is pretty much out of luck. Â The maximum sentence is ten years. Â If the district attorney is not in a good mood, the possession of hollow nose ammunition is a separate fourth degree offense good for up to another 18 months and $10,000 fine.Â This arrest and prison time is going to cost the NJ taxpayer a minimum of $200,000.
From the taxpayerâ€™s perspective, the story gets worse when the district attorney is instructed to be aggressive. Â Hereâ€™s a recent story. Â Gennady bought a handgun legally in New Jersey several years ago. Â He later sold this gun to his brother, Ilya. Â Gennady then moved to New York.Â No, there was no paperwork. Â Ilya was subsequently arrested with the gun. Â Heâ€™s looking at 42 months minimum. Â The DA has chosen to prosecute Gennady, a New York resident with Violation of the regulatory provisions relating to firearms, a fourth degree offense (a felony) with carries a sentence of up to eighteen months. Â It will be up to the DA to prove that Gennady sold to Ilya, in New Jersey, and when.Â Five years is the statute of limitations. Â If the DA prevails, the taxpayer will pay another fifty grand to host Gennady.
Kooks of Hazard
Next Monday, the court will unseal the indictment against the Kooks of Hazard, the trio that was arrested in June at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. Â That indictment includes 63 counts.Â How many years that adds up to is for us to guess.
I donâ€™t want out-of-state vigilantes driving around New Jersey with a platoonâ€™s worth of weapons. Â I REALLY don’t want to spend a million of my tax dollars putting them in prison. Â Why canâ€™t take â€˜em to the state line, fire a shotgun in the air, and tell â€˜em we never want to see them in these parts again?
Weâ€™re making this whole gun control thing too complicated in New Jersey. Â If you sell drugs or kill someone, go to jail.Â Stop making a complicated formula based on the tools.