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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has commuted the seven-year prison sentence of Brian Aitken, freeing the Garden State native in time for Christmas. Aitken was convicted of various weapons charges relating to a trio of handguns police discovered in his car in January 2009, along with hollow point bullets and “high capacity” magazines. Aitken had purchased the weapons and ammo in Colorado, to which he was planning on moving. His mother dropped the dime on Aitken, fearing that her son was suicidal following the break-up of his marriage. The cops pulled him over to check his mental health, searched his car and found the contraband. It was all downhill from there . . .

Aitken claimed he was in the process of moving [back] West when he was arrested. If true, Aitken would not have fallen afoul of NJ’s restrictive gun laws. Much.

Like Rhode Island, a New Jersey legal gun owner without a carry permit is only allowed to transport weapons to and from one residence to another, or to or from a gun range. If you stop for a cup of kawfee, you are violating the law. If you leave the guns unattended, you can be [Patrick] lynched on the spot. Kidding. A bit.

Aitken may have been intending on taking his guns back to the Centennial State at some point, but he was not en route to CO at the time of his arrest. Even so, the Judge in the case—since un-reappointed by Christie—screwed the proverbial pooch. Here’s a good description of Judge Morley’s malfeasance from

Judge Morley wouldn’t allow Aitken to claim the exemption for transporting guns between residences. He wouldn’t even let the jury know about it. During deliberations, the jurors asked three times about exceptions to the law, which suggests they weren’t comfortable convicting Aitken. Morley refused to answer them all three times. Gilbert and Nappen, Aitken’s lawyers, say he also should have been protected by a federal law that forbids states from prosecuting gun owners who are transporting guns between residences. Morley would not let Aitken cite that provision either.

Christie’s clemency decree came amongst growing disgust with the young man’s incarceration. After all, Aitken wasn’t exactly a criminal. I mean, up to that point. It’s not clear where Aitken will live after his release. As Ralph points out below, Aitken remains a convicted felon. So no more guns for you bubala.

Perhaps I will live to see the day when America becomes a nation of constitutional carry. Until then, all gun owners should read their state’s law very carefully. Counting on a State pardon for a firearms violation is not a clever strategy, nor a likely event.

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  1. His sentence was commuted to time served. He was not pardoned, nor was his felony conviction expunged. It remains on his record. I’m happy he’s out of prison, but he’s still screwed.

  2. And what in the hell is wrong with juries? Do prosecutors purposely go out and find people with zero insight or ones which can not reason? Can’t these juries refuse to convict someone they know is getting screwed?

    • I have a friend who is a attorney who worked nearly twenty years for the DEA. Last year he resigned and hung his shingle as a defense attorney. I asked him if he had any qualms about “crossing over to the dark side.” No. Why? Because he has seen too many times when the government has thrown the book at the low-level dopes while completely missing the bosses and kingpins. They go after the low hanging fruit. It is an easy conviction that can pad their numbers. They don’t go after the real bad guys because it’s too hard to catch and convict them. The real criminals are too smart and have money for the best lawyers. So the government tends to bust the poor idiots on the street who are just trying to scrape by.

      My friend got sick of sending patsies to prison for unjustifiably long sentences, so now he wants to defend the petty criminals. Not because he thinks they are good people, but because he wants to see justice meted out appropriate to the crime.

      I’m sure the jury that convicted Aitken interpreted the law as it is presented to them in court. It sounds like this was a clear cut violation, so the prosecution went for it with great gusto and sought the maximum punishment. Because it was easy. Not because it was just.

  3. If your riding around will hollow point bullets you will get the attention of the police. Those bullets are meant to go through a policemans vest so they are not going to be happy with that decision. This moron is lucky the bloated Mr Christie is eyeing higher office and eager to please Karl Rove.

    • I certainly hope that was sarcasm, Bob. Otherwise you should probably be aware that hollow points are LESS likely to go through a vest than most other common types of bullets. In addition, he had handguns, not rifles. Most rifle ammunition (out of a rifle) penetrates most police vests.

    • bob, as has been stated already, you are wrong. At first I thought you were being funny, but you are serious.

      As fearless leader as stated more than once, you are entitled to leave a comment. If you post inaccuracies, you should expect to be called on it.

      One more time so there will be no misunderstanding. Hollow point bullets are a lot less likely to penetrate a vest or any given surface compared to solid lead, full metal jacket, or most other non-expanding bullets. They are designed to expand and stop inside the target. If they do go all the way through, they will have much less energy. A solid bullet (the ones you people think are so safe) will much more often penetrate a surface and keep going. This is one reason why police and CHL holders overwhelmingly carry hollow point ammunition. If a bad guy is in a crowd, the bullet is less likely to over penetrate and hit an innocent person. Any gun owner knows that that is one of the basic rules of firearms. Know your target and what is behind it.

      The law in NJ banning hollow points is counter productive. It was written by people (like you) who know nothing about guns and don’t care to do any research either. It was politically motivated and is just another law that actually makes things worse.

      BTW, have any of your laws stopped the crime in Camden? That was possibly the worst craphole I have ever had the displeasure of living next to. Maybe they should pass more laws, yea, that will fix it..

  4. To bob s, This is the kind of ignorance that propagates myths. Hollow point bullets are SAFER than regular hard ball ammo. Less likely to shoot through walls, criminals, cars and strike an innocent person. The hollow points expand and stop , Full metal jacket(std ammo) is more likely to shoot clean through something.

  5. The judge should be disbarred. Firing him is good and I’m glad that Christie did it but the bar needs to take care of business here.

  6. I read in a number of places that he was moving from one residence in New Jersey to another residence in New Jersey at that very moment (not, as this article states, considering moving back to Colorado). A few of the articles even stated that a Mount Laurel Police Officer and a few other witnesses testified that he was moving from Mount Laurel to Hoboken at the very time he was arrested… making him protected by the State Exemption for transporting firearms and the FOPA irrelevant. Either way, glad Christie did the right thing. Happy New Year!

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