NJ Gun Laws That Made Man a Felon for a Paperwork Violation 'Need Serious Reform'

The Garden State has littered its law books with the statutory equivalent of booby traps.


Steffon Josey-Davis

Not that New Jersey needs another poster child for reform of its stupidly written and oppressively applied gun laws, but Steffon Josey-Davis has been conscripted to the cause anyway. The one-time armored car driver was arrested for carrying his legally owned pistol in his car. By all accounts, it was an innocent act, and certainly a harmless one. That's why the judge let him off with probation after a guilty plea to second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. So now Josey-Davis is a convicted felon at home instead of a convicted felon behind bars. Which is better, but still insane.

Represented by gun rights attorney Evan Nappen, Josey-Davis is now challenging his prosecution. He's also petitioning Gov. Chris Christie for a pardon. At, he tells his story:

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.

Well, that's his version of events. What does Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey say?

Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey

"Describing his conduct as a simple mistake does not negate the seriousness of this law, which was created to protect police officers and the public," says Carey. The prosecutor also notes that "he did not possess a license to carry the weapon, which was seized as evidence."

Wait a minute. So even in Jerseystan, Josey-Davis's accidental transportation of a loaded pistol in his glove compartment rises to the level of criminal "seriousness" only if he doesn't have a carry permit, by the prosecution's own telling. So it's a paperwork violation. If you have the right piece of paper, it's all good. If you don't, it's a life-changing felony.

But, as it turns out, the armored car driver had applied for a carry permit, and it was pending. So if he had been pulled over a week or two later with the right piece of paper in his possession…

Does that conflation of paperwork and timing "negate the seriousness of this law"?

Or should we just admit that the Garden State has littered its law books with the statutory equivalent of booby traps? And that, as Nappen notes, "New Jersey's gun control laws are out of control. It's clearly evident they need serious reform." Preferably with fire.

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  1. Ah, but Chris Christie is the True Conservative Choice. Of course he’ll use his pardon power to uphold the right to bear arms, right?

    1. Christie has stated for the record in the past that he supports all of New Jersey’s gun laws.

      1. Actually, he’s been on record stating that he’d look at expanding restrictions (this was shortly after Sandy Hook). If you’ve ever looked at the application for an NJ FID card, you’d have to wonder what else he could do.…..ts-033.pdf

        I love the part where you have to pay additional fees for each handgun you purchase, and repeat the approval process.

        1. Oh, I know, I live in NJ and have an FID card.

          1. Peace be upon you… and may your chains rest lightly…

  2. Meanwhile in Penna. three Civil War re-enactors climbed on a SEPTA train with two muskets and a sword and were whisked to Phila. for a Lincoln Day ceremony and the train crew said nary a word.

    1. PA is the only gun-sane state in the Northeast. Even though we vote blue for president, we’re firmly red in the legislature and a third or more of our Democrats are conservative and pro-gun.

      1. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are good on guns as well. And in fairness, our gun laws in PA aren’t great, they just look fantastic compared to New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

        1. I should have said “mid-Atlantic.” But I’d argue that our CCW requirements are just as good as NH and Maine and every other state, if not better–just $20 and a background check. No test or class or such nonsense. Just a one page form, a check, and you wait a month.

          1. Vermont

            Concealed Permit:
            It is lawful to carry a firearm openly or concealed provided the firearm is not carried with the intent or avowed purpose of injuring a fellow man. There is no permit required to carry concealed.

            1. Yeah, a constitutional carry state–no CCW involved. There’s a push in the legislature to go that way, but we have a Democrat governor now.

          2. Getting an LTC is very easy, and renewal is even easier. The price varies a bit by county, mine was $25. Our gun laws are decent overall, and excellent for the area. They’ll get even better if the law that gives standing to anyone to sue for violations of state preemption is upheld, but I’m not optimistic about its chances.

            1. Yeah, the legislature messed that one up because it was added to a bill that had a different original purpose, which violates the state constitution’s single-subject rule. It will probably go down soon.

  3. The only thing New Jersey has going for it is cheap, pumped gas and a few of its southern beaches. Otherwise, it taxes and regulates you to death and none of its cities are safe or prosperous.

    If we’re going to cut off a state and let it float out to sea, it should be New Jersey instead of the more popular Florida. At least Florida provides us with some amusement.

    1. I thought that was California.

    2. none of its cities are safe or prosperous.

      This is factually inaccurate. I will grant that we have a high proportion of shitholes, and the way the state is constructed essentially guarantees a high number of them. Our terrible cities are usually much smaller than others, though.

      1. Also, much of it is a bedroom community for NY or Philly – there are a lot of very nice burbs if you’re into that sort of thing.

        1. Old joke from when I was stationed in FT Monmouth.

          The only reason CA doesn’t fall into the sea, is cause Jersey sucks so hard.

    3. Do it! Do it fucker! I’ll be ruling the new island of Florida within a week! AHHHAAAHHHA HA HA HA!
      *coughs uncontrollable and takes another deep inhale of sweet sweet meth*

      1. We can’t cut off Florida, Florida is America’s dong.

        1. Can we circumcise it and remove the foreskin that is Miami?

        2. Which would make CA America’s ass.

            1. Well it does get hot and humid.

              1. It stays hot and humid.

                1. Your taint?

                  1. And Texas.

                    1. Only 1/6th of it. Have you ever seen a map of Texas?

                  2. That’s why I sit with a wide stance…

        3. If I had a solid gold what if machine I would love to see what an isolated florida would turn into. I predict civil war, only this time the Yankees are in the south and we fight over emancipation of pitbulls.

  4. Zero tolerance?

  5. Is Middlesex County this combative to the 2A because of its proximity to NYC? How would this play out in the parts of the state not along I95? I’d like to impugn Jersey as one giant shithole suburb of Philly but that might not be fair.

    1. I suspect cops are cops, regardless of their proximity to I95.

    2. When it comes to guns, NJ is batshit insane.

    3. Middlesex County is lousy with Indian and Asian immigrants and their children (solidly anti-gun Democrats), and pants-shitting white suburbanites that are heavily influenced by their proximity to two major universities (Rutgers and Princeton). Even the Republicans are anti-gun. This wouldn’t go over as well south or west, but Middlesex is its own beast.

  6. “”Describing his conduct as a simple mistake does not negate the seriousness of this law, which was created to protect police officers and the public,””

    He can’t possibly be aware of how utterly idiotic that statement makes him look, can he?

    1. I like the order, too – police first, THEN “the public”.

      Stay classy…

  7. The whole fucking thing is unconstitutional. Once you allow things like carry permits, regulations on transporting guns, etc. you cannot avoid results like this.

    How does having to ask permission to bear arms not infringe your right to bear arms? How does being required to bear arms in a given way (especially a way that makes them useless for one of their core purposes) not infringe your right to bear arms?

    Its not a slippery slope to this kind of harassment and violation of human rights. Its a cliff. That’s why the 2A is written in absolutist language.

    Don’t forget: the Revolutionary War started over British gun control – the attempt to seize weapons outside of Boston. The Founders were serious about the right to be armed.

    1. The British were just trying to implement some common sense musket and powder control when they marched on Lexington and Concord.

      Nobody needs more than two horns of powder.

    2. And yet the SCOTUS let stand the Drake decision, which held that the fact that NJ denies citizens the right to carry guns does not burden the right to bear arms.

    3. If you look real closely at the text of the 2A, you will see an asterisk.

      1. That’s a coffee stain. Which they were trying to ban coffee houses at the time, so the founders were the equivalent of meth addicts writing the laws of the land.

      2. That leads to this at the bottom:

        *because “fuck you”, that’s why

        They killed the Constitution! You bastards!

        /South Park

  8. “Describing his conduct as a simple mistake does not negate the seriousness of this law, which was created to protect police officers and the public,”

    For some reason I find this statement and the order it was put in very telling.

    The vast majority of DAs and prosecutors are amoral, careerist pigs but New Jersey seems to top them all.

    1. What if I describe his conduct as “not having a victim, nor even by the wildest stretch of the imagination having the potential to create a victim”? Can I call the law un-serious then?

      1. But think of the children

  9. To be fair, NJ is in good company. Each state’s and the fed’s criminal code is filled with booby traps.

    Preferably with fire.

    Uh oh. I’m sure some prosecutor somewhere can charge you with arson. Or incitement to commit arson. And they’ll be kind enough to offer to reduce it to incitement to vandalize government property if you plea.

  10. I alerted the officers that I had a weapon in the car.

    I think I see his real mistake.

    1. God damn it, I was just about to post that, right where you posted it.

    2. He looks black. They’d have checked anyway and then he’d have an obstructing justice charge on top of it.

  11. Why can’t you libertarian scum understand?


    1. Well, except for that pesky 2A. That’s not really a law.

      1. Pfffft! Some 100 year old piece of paper with words no one can understand?

        *leans forward…whispers*

        And my friend told me it was written by some 1%ers who had slaves and stuff.

        1. But Thomas Jefferson was cool. All my Prog friends are cool with TJ. Stonewall Jackson? EVUL SLAVE OWNER. TJ? Cool dude who dated black chicks. Totes cool.

    2. Turbo Timmeh! Geithner agrees!

  12. in NJ a loaded weapon must be carried in a locked trunk

    Actually, the NJ law is that it must be locked in the trunk, or in a locked container in the back of an SUV, unloaded, with the ammunition stored separate from the firearm.

    1. it seems like that needs an “amen” at the end. Cause they treat “common sense” measures like a religion.

      “There – no one could possibly be shot in error! We have ‘common sense’ requirements in place! Adam Lanza cannot happen in NJ! Praise Christie!”

      1. It sure seems like that is the thinking behind this idiocy – “We’ve put so many restrictions on how guns must be transported, no one will ever be able to shoot someone!” Because criminals and gang bangers in Newark totally follow the rules.

        1. …and Camden. Don’t forget Camden.

  13. Sounds like a reasonable misunderstanding of the law.

    If that’s good enough for the cops, it’s good enough for the citizens.

    Seriously though, it’s a good thing Christie has been booted off the national stage.

  14. Describing his conduct as a simple mistake does not negate the seriousness of this law

    This is true. In fact, it doesn’t change the seriousness of the law at all. Zero equals zero.

  15. There’s a fantastic gun range in Jackson, NJ that hosts High Power matches once a month and Garand matches every other month. There’s a couple good reasons I can’t attend anymore, and one big one is laws like this. I don’t drive a sedan anymore and having a gun case in the back of my SUV, locked but visible, seems risky, even though I try to obey all traffic laws.

    1. Obeying traffic laws in NJ makes you incredibly suspect.

      Tercs obit: something something furtive movements something something officer safety herka derka unfortunate circumstances… but at least the officer made it safely home?

  16. The existing structure of firearms law in N.J. should long since have been scrapped, it having been found just plain stupid, to say nothing of being offensive to Constitutional Rights. That this badly needed corrective action has yet to take place raises the most serious question concerning, aside from N.J. courts, the federal courts too.

  17. One additional question or point. In the text of the article, there was mention of the gun owner being stopped “in a routine traffic stop”. Exactly or approximately,what is “a routine traffic stop”. Had the driver violated traffic or vehicle laws, if not, why was he involved in a “routine traffic stop”, and what would such a thing be anyhow?

    By the way, I might suffer from acute case of “oldfashionedness”, but I’ve worked in 20 some odd states, drove in all of them and I never noticed “routine traffic stops”. Of course, thinking about it now, I do not recall having driven that much in N.J.

  18. Chris Christie is not a friend of gun-rights. He for the most part takes a pretty solid anti-gun stance. He has soften his rhetoric in regards to gun rights as he decides on a Presidential run but make know mistake Christie supports assault gun bans and gun registration. Owning gun in NJ is more trouble than its worth at thats the point of the laws and regulations . In New Jersey local Police Chiefs are the ones that . In the state of New Jersey. Police Chiefs will deny applications for any reason they can, forcing denied applicants to take their matter up on appeal with the judicial system.

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