Raymond Hughes told The Associated Press on Friday that he and his wife were on their way home from a concert and dinner in Atlantic City last month when the crash occurred in Glassboro.
He told police he had a handgun under his seat, and officers secured his personal 9mm Glock handgun while he went to the hospital, he said. But days later, he was charged with not having a New Jersey permit despite having a license to carry in neighboring Pennsylvania.
There are a few things here. If you are carrying or transporting a gun through a state or states, you’ll be doing yourself a favor to know the laws. You’ll also being doing yourself a favor if you have a better way to store the gun than under the seat of the your car or truck. If you have it locked up, you probably don’t have to tell the police anything. Which brings us back to knowing the law.
Mr. Hughes’ mistake was thinking that because he considers himself one of the good guys (which he is), the police will automatically treat you that way. The police in New Jersey are pretty well known for not subscribing to the school of thought, as Mr. Hughes found out.
Hughes’s attorney, Evan Nappen, said Hughes faces a minimum of 3 ½ years in prison if he’s convicted. Nappen said he’s trying to get the charges dismissed, as well as a pardon from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie’s office did not immediately comment on the matter.
Christie pardoned at least six people last year who had faced charges for carrying guns in New Jersey that they legally owned in other states. They included a Marine recruiter from Massachusetts whose unloaded 9mm handgun was found in the locked glove compartment of his truck after he was stopped for failing to use a turn signal.
A couple of thoughts here. First, one would think that pardoning so many people would be a clue to police in New Jersey that the Governor is not on board with arresting otherwise law abiding citizens for making a mistake. Apparently, one would be wrong. Also, remember that up until a week or so ago, Christie had aspirations to be the Republican Presidential nominee. Being perceived as anti gun wouldn’t help that, so he apparently got out the pardon pen and righted a wrong committed against these people.
Of course the true test will be people like the unfortunate Mr. Hughes. Who are in legal trouble now that Christie isn’t on the campaign trail. Christie did nothing about this sort of thing when he wasn’t running for President, we’ll have to see if his change of heart was sincere or just a cheap political trick.
Hughes, of Brookhaven, said he’s already been suspended from his job as a sergeant at a state prison in Chester. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections confirmed that Hughes is an employee, but citing policy would not comment on whether he was suspended.
Unfortunately for Mr. Hughes, his bosses have little to no choice in the matter. Anything short of a pardon or a decision by the Glouchester County prosecutor to drop the charges will likely result in him losing his job. In the meantime, there he sits, unable to work at his profession and support his family.
I know, ignorance of the law is not an excuse and as I’ve said, it’s important to know and follow the laws of any states you travel through with firearms, but some common sense on the part of the New Jersey State Police would certainly go a long way. Apparently, that’s not on the curriculum at the police academy.
For me the take home message is avoid New Jersey whenever possible.