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New Jersey Lawmaker Wants To Stop Punishing Otherwise Law-Abiding Gun Owners

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY — Senator Ray Lesniak, of the New Jersey state legislature, is seeking to put an end to mandatory minimum sentencing for the possession of a handgun without a permit. As any law-abiding gun owner knows, New Jersey has some of the most draconian gun laws in the country. One specifically hurts out-of-state travelers harder than the rest: mandatory minimum sentencing.

As we covered a few years ago, one unfortunate gun owner was busted in New Jersey on his way to provide help for the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. This otherwise law-abiding gun owner was stopped by a New Jersey state trooper and he voluntarily told the officer he had a gun in the truck with him. He was facing a three-to-five year mandatory minimum and the prosecutor wanted to push it up to ten years in jail.

Thankfully, that man was pardoned by Governor Chris Christie. Many out-of-state travelers haven’t been so lucky.

Now, Senator Ray Lesniak wants to put an end to imprisoning otherwise good, law-abiding people who just happen to get caught in the one state in the union it’s a huge criminal offense.

via News Works

What we have here are innocent folks who either don’t know the law or just made a mistake. These are bad cases, and these folks should not be in prison for making innocent mistakes. I’m a gun control advocate, an unabashed gun control advocate, and these cases make us look bad because they’re unfair. We want to control the massive influx of guns into New Jersey, but we want to do it in a fair way.”

A couple driving through New Jersey from New England to Pennsylvania aren’t looking to bring guns into the state. Chances are good, if they’re armed with a handgun, they’re just under the impression that their concealed carry permits cover them…

Or, sadly, worse — that the Second Amendment should cover them.

New Jersey isn’t hitting gun smugglers when troopers pull over out-of-state travelers and arrest them for possession of a handgun without a New Jersey license. New Jersey recognizes NO STATE’S authority to issue concealed carry licenses. So everyone not physically in possession of a license to carry from the state of New Jersey is breaking the law if he or she is in possession of a handgun.

That’s ridiculous. And it puts a lot of otherwise good people into legal hot water. There’s likely a few otherwise honest gun owners who are sitting in New Jersey prisons right now because they accidentally drove over the line into New Jersey.

The law has yet to be voted on but we hope to report back that it’s reached a certain degree of success. If your state’s legal precedent is to make criminals out of good people, maybe it’s time to change the precedent.

If Sen. Lesniak’s proposed bill becomes law, out-of-state gun owners could STILL be charged under New Jersey law but the judge would have some amount of discretion as to sentencing. It will still be illegal to enter the state while in possession of a handgun without a license, but the judge doesn’t have to send every person to jail for a minimum of three-to-five years.

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