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PostPosted: 19 Oct 2010, 21:51 
Grand Poobah
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Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
Posts: 5793
Location: Buffalo, NY ... ke-no-laws

"Hey David," the Facebook message began, "Thought you might be interested in Brian Aitken, in jail in NJ for 7 years for owning legal guns."

I get people approaching me all the time wanting me to write about their legal cases. Most of the time, I get very subjectively-recounted narratives with very little to substantiate, and even less on what the defendants may have actually done. Experience has made me naturally wary of jumping on such bandwagons without investigation.

Here's what I've found.

His supporters have established the "Free Brian Aitken" Facebook page.

Mission: To help free Brian Aitken, an innocent gunowner thrown in jail for moving from CO to NJ with his legally purchased firearms, disassembled and unloaded, locked in his trunk...

The "Help Free Brian" entry from gives us more details:

At trial Brian Aitken’s defense team showed the jury Brian’s three FBI background checks to lawfully purchase firearms, a number of witnesses—including a Mount Laurel police officer—testified that Brian was moving between residences and all witnesses—including the Mount Laurel police officer—testified that Brian’s firearms were unloaded & locked in the trunk of his car exactly as New Jersey State Law requires…Brian knew how to do this because he had called the New Jersey State Police days earlier to ensure he was in compliance with the law…a fact the Judge ruled inadmissible in the court room.

Now, this 26 year old small business owner—with no prior criminal record—is sitting in jail for 7 years simply because a Judge, since removed for misconduct in a different case, refused to allow the jury to apply the state law that allows abiding gun owners to transport their legally owned firearms from one house to another.

The jury returned from deliberation three times practically begging the Judge to tell them the law that protects an individuals rights to transport firearms—the Judge outright refused to tell them!

By way of clarification, technically, Judge James Morley was not reappointed by Gov. Christie, he claims because of his rulings in two controversial cases.

Why Aitken was stopped in the first place may raise some eyebrows:

The only reason police were searching his car was in response to a 911 call his mother made when she was concerned about his welfare…not the welfare of anybody else. Brian’s ex-wife had canceled visitation of his infant son once again and his mother’s concerns were about Brian being possibly suicidal….she pleaded to the Judge before his sentencing that she had made the call to protect her son, not to have him thrown in state prison. Brian has no criminal record, no violent tendencies, and owned the weapons lawfully purchased in Colorado as protection for his home and family.

Here's the thing: Once it was determined he did not pose a danger to himself or others, why was Aitken not released and his property returned to him?

By way of further documentation I have obtained a copy of a request for financial assistance to appeal the case, sent to the Deputy General Counsel of the National Rifle Association (it reminds "The NRA has generously helped to support the defense of his trial..."). I noticed the attorney who drafted the letter was Evan F. Nappen, someone we've featured before in this column--and again. Here are some key facts he raises:

New Jersey Statute 2C:39-6e allows a person to possess firearms when moving between one residence and another. as long as the firearms are unloaded and locked in the trunk of the vehicle. as required by N.J.S. 2C:39-6g. Brian complied with this transportation requirement during his move between his parents' house and his new apartment. However, the judge presiding in the case refused to read this possessory exemption to the jury despite counsel's demands and repeated requests by the jury to learn of the firearm possession exemptions.


The Firearms Owner's Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 926A, protects persons traveling with firearms between two locations where their firearms are lawfully possessed, if they comply with the transportation requirements. As with the New Jersey exemptions, the judge of the court below refused to read this exemption to the jury, deciding for himself that this provision did not apply and that Brian was not entitled to its protection.

Likewise, Aitken lawfully possessed ammunition, and importantly:

Mr. Aitken was wrongfully convicted of the unlawful possession of large capacity ammunition magazines because the state failed to meet all the elements of the statute.

I've since corresponded with Mr. Nappen about this case, and he tells me:

The most outrageous thing about the case was the judge's refusal to allow the jury to consider the exemptions that Brian plainly came under. This is very troubling, especially in NJ, where one only lawfully possesses any handgun by way of the exemptions.

The thing that strikes me most about this case is the realization that no one is immune to the stresses and misfortunes of life, but that is not a legal basis for the state to strip us of our rights. That and if a judge won't follow the plainly written law, why should anyone?

I encourage you to use the links I've provided, to learn more about this case, and to help free Brian Aitken.

Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!

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