To the Editor, and to U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R, NJ-04):
As a professional Merchant Marine Officer living in New Jersey, I spend a good deal of time traveling. I may go throughout New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, some of my favorites. While I have no issue driving through these states, my rights are stifled. Congressman Smith can help put an end to that miscarriage of justice.
Bringing a firearm from New Jersey (one of the most caustic States when it comes to gun rights) through New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts is a stressful situation. Though protected under federal law, people are unlawfully arrested when doing so. I have 4 different CCW permits that allow me to carry in 36 states – just not in the state I live nor the majority of the states I visit. At any time I could be subject to arrest if a peace officer wants to ignore federal law – which happens in New York and New Jersey quite often.
When it comes to concealed carry, the natural inalienable right to self-defense, our rights do not dissipate once we step out of our home. The 2008 Supreme Court case DC v. Heller plainly states that the 2nd Amendment stands for exactly what it says; that the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms. States like our’s choose to ignore Heller and narrowly interpret it to mean we can only keep our firearm at home.
Because of a patch work of laws, people fall victim to costly court cases and unjust imprisonments because they don’t know or understand that freedoms die when you travel to states like New Jersey, Maryland, or New York. To cite the most notorious example, the case of Shaneen Allen, who was arrested for believing that her Pennsylvania concealed carry license was valid in New Jersey. In short, a professional woman in the medical field traveling to Atlantic City was pulled over and informed the officer of her pistol. She thought she was doing the right thing. She thought wrong, was arrested, and thrown in jail. This woman was vetted through extensive background checks to receive her firearm and carry permit. Case after case in New Jersey involved unjust arrests and many of these people were only vindicated by Gubernatorial pardons, as is true of Shaneen’s case.
But people don’t have to suffer like Shaneen. HR 38, The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, will allow anyone with a valid concealed carry permit to carry their firearm while traveling to other states. And why not? They’ve proven to safe, responsible gun owners in their home state and will be safe, responsible gun owners while traveling to other locations. And, more importantly, good people like Shaneen Allen would never fall victim to NJ’s laws if HR 38 becomes the law of the land.
The 2015 murder of Carol Bowne is a testament to unjust laws can have fatal consequences. Carol was stalked and harassed by her ex. In an attempt to protect herself, she filed police reports, took out restraining orders, and applied for a Pistol Purchasers Permit. Under New Jersey law, the town has 30 days to issue such permits. Carol was stabbed to death 42 days later; her application still being processed. This is a total and complete travesty.
We now have the opportunity to return rights to the 12,000 concealed carry permit holders of New Jersey who want to protect their families while away from home. Congressman Tom MacArthur had the fortitude to do what is right and co-sponsor HR 38. He is following his oath to protect the constitution.
As a landowner in Ocean and Monmouth County and a voter in Monmouth County NJ, I’m urging Representative Chris Smith to also do what is right and co-sponsor this bill. Congressman Smith, you swore an oath to protect the constitution and to serve the citizens of New Jersey. Do what is right and serve them well by supporting HR 38. Turn your back on the archaic ways of New Jersey and support the law-abiding constituents of your district.
John J. Petrolino III