Camden, New Jersey, one of the true garden spots of the Garden State, is a tough place. The south Jersey town just across the Delaware River from the City of Brotherly Love is known far and wide for its operatic levels of corruption in pretty much every aspect of public life. So when news came that Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson (above) issued a gun permit to a city councilman who also happened to be a convicted criminal, it was probably difficult to find anyone who was terribly surprised. But Thomson is claiming he’s the victim in this sordid tale…
In July, Thomson approved a handgun-purchase permit and a firearms-purchaser identification card, which confers permission to purchase rifles and shotguns, for Councilman Curtis Jenkins.
Jenkins had not disclosed on his application that he pleaded guilty in 1982 to welfare fraud, a conviction that made him ineligible for the permits under state law. According to police sources, that conviction surfaced on a required criminal background check.
That would be the federal NICS background check.
Under state law, Thomson has sole responsibility for approving gun permits for qualified Camden residents. Background checks are performed by members of the Police Department, and the results are given to him to review.
Guess the locals missed Jenkins’ conviction when they ran their background check. Somehow. Thomson has written a letter to the Camden County Prosecutor asking that Councilman Jenkins’ application be investigated.
In addition to investigating “the sources of the documentation that was relied upon in approving [Jenkins’] application,” Thomson’s letter called upon the Prosecutor’s Office to look into how details of the councilman’s gun-permit application became public.
Thomson said the leak was an apparent violation of state confidentiality rules surrounding firearms applications and background checks.
You can see how this was most likely a simple oversight on the part of Councilman Jenkins who plead guilty to welfare fraud in 1982.
The councilman said he was told by the Prosecutor’s Office that he should have disclosed his fraud conviction on the May 19 application. He said he was unaware that he was required to report a conviction for a nonviolent offense.
Enquiring minds might wonder why the good people of Camden elected a welfare cheat to represent them. Maybe he neglected to mention that during the campaign, too. But that’s neither here nor there.
This obviously could have happened to anyone. How could a busy public official be expected to know all the laws involved in a complicated transaction such a purchasing a gun? And we’re sure any run-of-the-mill Garden Stater who neglected to mention a conviction on a gun app would receive similar treatment.