National Security

New Jersey licensed gun owners wonder: What Second Amendment?

This state’s gun laws are so onerous they render guns being transported virtually useless for the owner’s self-defense

Image Credit: Unsplash/Jay Rembert

Though this is likely not a surprise for New Jersey’s law-abiding gun owners, that state apparently has zero respect for the Second Amendment and for an American’s right to self-defense. At least that’s the takeaway after reading a piece in the NRA’s America’s First Freedom magazine written by Editor-in-Chief Frank Miniter. He tells about New Jersey’s atrocious treatment of 25-year-old Roosevelt Twyne, an armed security guard for an armored car company.

On February 8, 2020, while driving through Roselle Park, N.J. on his way home from work, three police officers pulled Twyne over for a minor traffic violation. Twyne, who had a valid state permit to carry a handgun, told the officer he had a gun. So far, so good.

Generally, law enforcement recommends people inform cops if they are armed, as a courtesy to the officer, and so there are no surprises if the officer sees a concealed weapon. In fact, a blog at Baretta.com describes informing the officer who stopped you that you are armed as using “a little common sense.” I could not in good faith recommend this courtesy in New Jersey based on what I’m hearing out of the Garden State. Rather than appreciated, it could get you arrested.

According to Twyne’s lawyer, Evan Nappen, in text describing Twyne’s situation for a GoGetFunding.com account, the officers arrested Twyne for illegally possessing hollow point ammunition. But there’s a problem. Twyne had no hollow point ammo.

Just as baffling, they also charged him with “unlawful transportation of a weapon.” Nappen cites NJS 2C:39-9D, which “specifically exempts people who are licensed or registered under chapter 58, and Twyne’s New Jersey Permit to Carry was issued pursuant to chapter 58.”

Nappen also noted, “Twyne’s Permit to Carry specifies the Smith & Wesson handgun that he was carrying at the time of the stop. Twyne also possesses a SORA (Security Officer Registration Act) Card, a New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card, and lawfully purchased/registered his handgun with a New Jersey permit to purchase.” The man has jumped through all these hoops just to be able to exercise his constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and it’s still not enough for New Jersey.

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A state prosecutor charged Twyne with “illegally transporting a handgun and for possessing hollow-point ammunition.” Tell me, how can you illegally transport a gun when there is a statute specifically exempting you because you have a state permit? And, once again, how can you illegally possess hollow point bullets when you don’t have any? According to Nappen, “Twyne had the gun loaded with Hornady Critical Duty” rounds. These bullets are not hollow point but have polymer tips. Nappen says this specific ammo is listed as legal on the N.J. State Police website.

It sure is; I checked. At njsp.org on the Firearms FAQS page, #13 reads, “Ammunition lacking a hollow cavity at the tip, such as those with a polymer filling, are not considered to be hollow point ammunition. An example of this can be seen with the Hornady Critical Defense…” Doesn’t get clearer than that.

If you’re wondering how this could happen in America to this young man, you’re not alone. But this is what happens when leftist state politicians eviscerate the Second Amendment by circumventing the Constitution and creating liberty-infringing laws.

In fact, if you knew nothing about the United States and you read the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, for the first time, and then you read New Jersey’s gun laws, you’d never guess the state could be a part of the U.S.A.

This state’s gun laws are so onerous they render guns being transported virtually useless for the owner’s self-defense. To be fair, many states can be described as having laws that violate the Second Amendment prohibition against infringing on Americans’ gun/self-defense rights. But, for now, we’re talking about the social justice gulag of New Jersey. Make no mistake, if you are a gun owner in the state, you are a second-class citizen regarding those rights.

To make matters worse, you’ll recall, I mentioned Twyne is employed at an armored car company as an armed security guard. His occupation requires him to carry a sidearm. So, adding to Twyne’s other tribulations, his employer has suspended him from his job because he cannot legally carry a gun while the court case proceeds.

Nappen compared this case with another client he had who got entangled in New Jersey’s anti-gun web. Nappen said Shaneen Allen, who had a license to carry a gun in Pennsylvania, “accidentally drove into the state with her handgun.” She also got pulled over for a traffic violation. She volunteered to the officer she had a firearm in her purse, and he arrested her. She was facing a possible multi-year prison sentence. Fortunately, in 2015, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) pardoned her.

Why does law-abiding Ms. Allen carry a gun? For these purposes (like it’s any of the state’s business), it’s because she says she’d been beaten and robbed twice in her South Philadelphia neighborhood. But in New Jersey and other draconian states, the U.S. Constitution apparently stops at the state line. While the state magnanimously allows you to carry (actually, transport) your gun in your vehicle, it must be unloaded, in a locked container, and in the trunk.

A lot of good it does you there. One of the obvious and major reasons a person carries a gun in a car is for self-defense. Incredibly, the state’s Democrat lawmakers have effectively obliterated their resident’s ability to defend themselves against a violent assailant while they are in their cars. So, what value is your gun to you if you need to defend yourself while you’re in or near your car? As far as I can tell, the gun’s value equals that of New Jersey’s respect for your life: Zero.

There are so many aspects of Twyne’s case that are disturbing to me as a retired cop. First, unless there are elements of these cases that I don’t know, under the circumstances I do know, why did those police officers make the decision to arrest those people? Perhaps they ran the situation by a supervisor who told them to make the arrests. If the supervisor wasn’t at the scene, I can see that happening. But I can’t understand not releasing the subjects once the situation was explained at the precinct. Based on the reported facts of these cases, I just don’t get it.

I know cops in New Jersey swear an oath to hold up the same Constitution all other American cops do. Does their oath read something like, I solemnly swear to uphold the laws of the United States of America (except for the Second Amendment), of the State of New Jersey, and of the jurisdiction in which I am employed?

Like I said, what Second Amendment?

meet the author

Steve Pomper is a retired Seattle police officer. He's served as a field training officer and on the East Precinct Community Police Team. He's the author of four books, including "De-Policing America: A Street Cop's View of the Anti-Police State." He's also a contributor to the National Police Association.

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