Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's Always Tea Time, in Wonderland

When it comes to firearms legislation, New Jersey is to 'the real world' is as Wonderland is to ... well, the real world!

No Lawyers - Only Guns and Money: "There Is No Justice For Gun Owners In New Jersey":

The headline, "there is no justice for gun owners in New Jersey", is a statement by Brian Aitken on the treatment that he and Shaneen Allen have received from that state's justice system. He is featured in a new NRA News Report by Ginny Simone entitled "Accidental Criminals: Brian Aitken is Living the Nightmare".

There is a comment about jury nullification somewhere in there, and it's extremely  important to include as a trial option of a "jury of your peers"  ... those people who are asked to consider whether to deprive a citizen of his or her civil rights because of confusion, mistakes, ignorance of the law or any other circumstance which threaten to turn an honest citizen into a felon.

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse" 
     ... or ...
                            “You would have to be half mad to dream me up.” 

We have all heard that tired bromide about ignorance of the law, but the truth is that everyone is ignorant of the law.  Look at ObamaCare as a splendid example of indecipherable legal jargon.  Look at the 2nd Amendment ... a few words, but thousands of pages of litigation have turned it into a morass of controversy.

Brian Aitken made every effort to conform to New Jersey laws, but somehow he managed to fall athwart of those Laws.  Apparently it's easier to break the law when you've tried to conform to it.  Thieves, rapists and murderers violation of gun laws are treated as mere details when compared to the crimes of which they are convicted.   Honest citizens are hoist by the petard of the very laws which predators ignore.  And the irony is ... those laws are presumably aimed at the predators, not the law-abiding.

Shaneen Allen  drove across a bridge and became a felon.  She was arrested when she naively volunteered during a routine traffic stop stop that she had a gun with her ... a gun which was entirely legal on the other end of the bridge.   She didn't have to volunteer the information; the arresting officer was ignorant of the possession "offense".  Had she been in possession of a license to have the gun in NJ, she would have been allowed to go on her way with nothing more than a traffic ticket.  She HAD a license to carry the gun in her home state, but she had been caught up in the tornado of NJ law ... much like Alice in Wonderland, where all the rules are changed,  (This was the source of the major quotes here.)

Both of these convicted felons un-knowingly broke the laws of New Jersey.  Aitken received clemency from the NJ governor; Allen is hoping that she will receive the same consideration, and be freed from jail.

And they will continue to have it on their record:  they are felons, and forever they will be disallowed from their civil rights --- including the right to vote, and the right to self-defense of their homes, their families, and themselves.

The best defense is a sympathetic Jury
                    ... or ... "Off With Their Heads!"

The ultimate step before imprisonment is a trial by a jury.   Sometimes minor offenses are presided over by a judge, without a jury: but gun-law violations are almost always treated as a major felony.

A judge is obliged to apply the rule of law.  That's his job.  In a trial by jury, he instructs the jury. Judges typically get peevish when jurors decide that the law is unjust.   In the cases of Aitken and Allen, there was clearly no attempt to defy the law ... but in the convictions, there is no justice.

But a jury?
Ah, there's the rub.  Judges are not allowed in the wee stuffy room where jurors agonize over their decisions.  Or, where they do not .. unless ...

See "Twelve Angry Men", if you have not served on a jury in a felony case.   It's a melting pot of outrage at the crime which has been committed, and sometimes it's almost a battleground.  Nobody is sure of the law ... depending on the predisposition of the presiding judge, it may be a group of cowed civilians who think they know what the judge wants, and they are determined to give it to him/her.  A judge is a fearful and imposing authority, and they know that HE knows the law much better than they.

Judges Preside Under the Rule of Law
    ...  or ... “Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.” 

The judge can only enforce the law.  He cannot enforce "justice" ....  there is no Justice in a court, there is only The Law.
... but the jury can impose a ruling which reflects "justice", which is an option often denied to the Judge.

There are laws which allow the Judge little or no latitude when he imposes sentence on a convicted felon.  If jurors recognize that situation, they can bring back a verdict which satisfies Justice, The Judge, and their own moral code.  And of course, it might also preserve the civil rights of an otherwise law-abiding citizen who "just got caught up in The System".

     ... or ...    “But, said Alice, the the world has absolutely no sens [sic], who's stopping us from inventing one?” 

The ancients Greek philosophers often spoke of "Goodness, Truth and Beauty" as being the transcendental imperatives.

We seem to have lost one, two or all of these traditional imperatives.

We are a civilization of order, regimentation, and "the lowest common denominator".  There is no room in the in for a Jesus of Nazareth, for a Nietzche, or for "Different Drummers".

Still, they exist.  Or as Galileo said of the orbit of the planets: "But Yet It Moves!"

Innocence exists.  Yes, it is ignorance of the real world which can be said of virgins, and it can be said of idiots, and it can be said of normal people who don't know much about the political motivations of judges, Lords, and Saviors. It can be said of people who don't live in the turmoil of the Internet and the Senate.  Their only concern is to live their life and to protect their babies.  It can be said of people who say:  "Just leave me alone".

There is no place in the world today. But there is a name for them.

We call them:  "Victims"

The world needs fewer victims.  And when we find them, we should might consider ....

            just leaving them along.

They are the hope of the future.  And we need them to be free and clear of our trivial pursuits.


Anonymous said...

In the case of New Jersey, ignorence of the IS NOT an excuse. Gun owners that are unaware of NJ's draconian gun laws are either simple minded or living on Mars. It is easy to stay on the right side of NJ gun law. Don't take a gun into the state and don't handle a gun while you are in the state, or never go into NJ.

Jerry The Geek said...

Ah ... then you confess that you are at least half mad? What is it about crossing a river which changes you from a law-abiding citizen to a felon?

Anonymous said...

Simple, when you cross the river will a prohibited gun you violate the laws of the soverign state of New Jersey. Different states, different laws, all perfectly legal. NJ law may not be good law, but within the state it is the law.

Anonymous said...

In New Jersey, the gun laws are the law and must be obeyed by all. Simple as that.