By Synnove Bakke | The Save Jersey Blog
We wrote about Shaneen Allen, a single mother of two that was looking at mandatory jail time last year as well as Brian Aitkin. Her case received a lot of publicity and she was able to retain the best lawyer a gun owner could possibly get in New Jersey, Louis Nappen.
The N.J. Attorney general eventually stepped in and clarified the law, so she was able to accept a pre-trial intervention instead of prison. She met a new set of criteria for out-of-state gun owners to get leniency. Criteria that was set: a person must be from out of state, have a clean record, legally possess the gun, must let law enforcement know they possess a firearm, and the person must not have been advised of New Jersey’s gun restrictions and otherwise have believed they were obeying the law, per acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
The Graves Act is the Draconian New Jersey law that imposes mandatory minimum prison sentences on crimes involving guns, and criminal penalties for possession in NJ. It was expanded in 2008 to include unlawful possession of a handgun. The judge has no option for discretion and this is where Shaneens law comes in for out of state gun owners that accidentally break NJ’s harsh gun laws. More on Shaneens law below.
Let me tell you about Steffon Josey-Davis. Steffon is a good young man and after reading about him and speaking with him, I could tell he’s ambitious and want nothing more than to do great in life for his family and himself. He was looking at 10 years in prison last year for accidentally leaving his gun in the glove compartment, so he accepted a deal with the prosecutor which gave him the 1 year probation he is currently serving. He had to plead guilty to second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. The prosecutor then waved the Graves Act.
Here’s Steffon’s story, in his own words, from his Go-fund me page:
“I was an armored guard, with plans to be a police officer until I got a felony conviction for having my legally owned service weapon in my glove box. Now my dreams of being a cop and providing for my family have been dashed. The only way I can get my life back on track is if Governor Christie grants me a pardon. Please help me tell the governor that an honest mistake shouldn’t ruin my entire future.
My name is Steffon Josey-Davis. I am a 24-year-old from New Jersey. As an armored car driver, I am legally permitted to own a weapon. On September 20th, 2013, I was planning to go to the gun range with a friend, and was in the garage checking my firearm when my 6-year-old sister walked in and surprised me. I have always tried to keep my firearm away from my younger siblings as to not spark their curiosity, so I quickly shoved it into my glove compartment before picking her up and taking her back inside the house.
Later that day, having been distracted by a chain of events, I got in my car, with my gun still in my glove compartment. I was pulled over shortly after for a routine traffic stop. Immediately I realized my mistake; in NJ a loaded weapon must be carried in a locked trunk. I alerted the officers that I had a weapon in the car. They confiscated and told me I would be able to pick it up later that week, and I thought that was the end of it.
When I arrived at the police department, I was informed that I had been charged with weapons possession, a second-degree felony. Instantly my life changed. I was facing a ten year prison sentence for trying to keep a firearm away from a child. I was horrified by the thought of spending ten years in prison, away from my family, my girlfriend and the dreams that I hoped to one day achieve, so on my lawyer’s recommendation I took a plea of one year probation.
But I am still a convicted felon. Now I can’t vote, am disqualified from most jobs, and my future has been derailed. I am a law abiding citizen, with hopes of one day becoming a law enforcement officer myself. Yet, because of my felony conviction I may never be able to become the person I had wanted to be.
I am asking you, from the bottom of my heart, to please support me and ask Governor Christie to grant me a pardon so that I can continue to follow my dreams.”
Please join me in helping Steffon pay for his attorney to help overturn his wrongful conviction in court on appeal. Also, we need you to call the Governor’s office and ask him to pardon Steffon. Please share his link with everyone on Social Media so we can get more Media attention to his cause!
Call the Governor and ask politely. And feel free to call every day:
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Call, email and fax your legislators as well; tell them how you feel about Steffon and his life changing situation. While you’re at it, let them know you want to amend the Graves Act protecting NJ citizens that simply make mistakes and have no criminal intent. You can find your representatives’ contact information here.
Shaneen’s Law (A3608) was introduced and referred to Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on September 11th, 2014. Many New Jersey Republican lawmakers have signed onto this bill including Minority Leader Jon Bramnick. I was curious as to what’s holding it up so I had to see who chairs that group and sure enough it’s Charles Mainor – one of the most anti-Second Amendment lawmaker you could find in the Garden State. The rabid anti-gun legislators will not see reason when it comes to the Second Amendment. They have revoked the Second Amendment rights of New Jersey citizens with all the laws that are far too complicated for most people to comprehend and far too many to keep track of.
Why are we, New Jerseyans, not screaming at the top of our lungs at these left wing politicians whose creating a New Jersey where only criminals will end up having guns? Why are we not voting them out?
Little by little, they are doing away with Second Amendment rights and not to mention all the other laws they constantly pass. NJ is second only to CA in amount of bills being passed by the legislatures. Both states of course have Democrat majority in both houses.
Shaneen’s Law is great if you break New Jersey gun laws and live out of state but New Jerseyans still have to deal with gun laws that make no sense for anyone but the rabid anti-Second Amendment left whose main goal and wish seems to be to get rid of every gun in the state.
A mandatory sentence is ridiculous. What if Shaneen was from New Jersey? No judge should be forced to put a single Mom from New Jersey in prison only due to the fact that she accidentally broke a draconian gun law while not in the process of committing any other crime. And what about the citizens who are driving to a gun range? If you accidentally drive through a gun free zone or stop on the way there, you could break a law and end up committing a crime.
If you have intent to committing a real crime with a firearm then, that’s the only time charges should be brought against a citizen who’s a legal gun owner.
Lawmakers do not have the right or authority according to our U.S. Constitution to deny or restrict us carrying arms.
States and local municipalities have not been granted those rights either, so all of those gun grabbing lawmakers nationally and locally are unlawfully exercising rights they have not been granted by creating these gun laws.
The Constitution can only be amended through the Amendment process which requires approval of 2/3 of U.S. Congress and Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of all of the state legislatures.
This has not happened so our 2nd Amendment rights as U.S. citizens are still intact. So let me ask you this, who are the real criminals here?
Brian Aitkin is still a felon for similar case. His 7 year prison sentence was commuted by Governor Christie, after serving 4 months in prison, but he is still considered a convicted felon. He can also never own a gun or vote.
Evan Nappen is a true fighter for Gun owners in trouble with NJ Gun laws. He represented Shaneen Allen, Brian Atkin and now Steffon Josey-Davis.
“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason Co-author of the Second Amendment
Here’s a helpful NRA’s Guide to transportation of Firearms.