Last October, Newark Liberty Airport Security Guard John Brek was working outside of Continental Cargo Building 157. On the day President Obama was due to land, Brek told two other airport employees that he could cut a hole in the fence and shoot the President. He simulated holding a rifle in the direction of where the President would be. His colleagues reported Brek to Homeland Security. He was arrested and eventually brought before Judge Amilkar Velez-Lopez of the Central Judicial Processing Court in Essex County on three charges: Third Degree making terroristic threats; Third Degree receiving stolen property [one of the guns he’d inherited from his father was stolen]; Fourth Degree possession of prohibited devices [hollow point bullets] . . .
Brek pleaded innocent; he claimed he was simply pointing out possible security problems. One house search [foolishly consented to without a warrant], 43 confiscated guns, $200,000 bail, untold lawyers’ fees and two psychiatrists later . . .
The 56-year-old Linden man ended up pleading guilty only to harassment, for causing inconvenience, annoyance and alarm — not to the president, but to the pair of worried employees he’d been talking to.
For some reason, blog.nj.com doesn’t repeat the “salient” facts reported by every other news outlet covering this story: Brek is a Republican (gasp!) and a member of the NRA (horror!). Instead, to their eternal credit, the Garden State bloggers cut to chase: now that Brek’s been cleared of the more serious charges, why hasn’t Judge Velez-Lopez ordered the weapons returned?
A world with no guns in it would be ideal, but under our laws, you can’t deprive a citizen of his right to own a gun if he’s not considered a threat. The judge acknowledged that Brek doesn’t pose a threat — agreeing to lift a restraining order that had prohibited him from having any contact with Obama or the White House — but said the gun collection would still be confiscated because “we live in a different world” after 9/11.
The judge was erring on the side of caution, yet fundamental rights cannot be eroded because times have changed or people are worried.
The man can still visit the White House, and he can still buy more firearms. He says he never meant to threaten anyone. So why take his gun collection away?
Once again, 911 is offered as an excuse for suspending the rights that form the basis of this country’s way of life. I reckon it’s time for the NRA to come to the support one of its members.