Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gun Law Case: Stark Raving Mad

Brian Aitken is serving seven years in prison.

Because he made a purchase. Legally. Even the FBI approved.

Then, Mr. Aitken stored the products he purchased.

Safely. According to legal code.

So, he's spending seven years in prison.

That's because he made the purchase in America.

And is subject to American laws.

Which, in the Lemming's opinion, are
  • MAD
Like the fellow said: "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't." (Hamlet, Act II, Scene II, Famous Quotes by William Shakespeare)

There's a perfectly reasonable (given a particular set of assumptions) explanation for why Mr. Aitken is in prison.

Those products that he purchased: legally?

They're big, scary guns!

And that, in some parts of America, changes everything.

The folks in New Jersey are, apparently, scared silly of guns.

So Mr. Aitken is spending seven years in prison.

Here's what set the Lemming off:

"New Jersey Gun Case Exposes 'Patchwork' of State Laws, Experts Say"
Joshua Rhett Miller, FOXNews (December 2, 2010)

"The case of a New Jersey man who is serving seven years in prison for possessing two locked and unloaded handguns he purchased legally in Colorado is a perfect example of how a law-abiding citizen can unwittingly become a criminal due to vastly differing gun laws among the states, gun rights experts say.

"Brian Aitken, a 27-year-old entrepreneur and media consultant with no prior criminal record, now spends his days 'bored and depressed' behind bars at New Jersey's Mid-State Correctional Facility, his father, Larry Aitken, of Mount Laurel, N.J., says.

"Brian was trying to get his life back on track two years ago when he moved back to New Jersey from Colorado to be closer to his young son and estranged wife. But on Jan. 2, 2009, his mood darkened when his planned visit with his son was canceled at the last minute. His mother, concerned for his safety, called the police, and when the police located him, they searched his car and found two locked and unloaded handguns in the trunk.

"Aitken had purchased the guns legally in Colorado, and he passed an FBI background check when he bought them, his father said. And he said Brian also contacted New Jersey State Police before moving back back home to discuss how to properly transport his weapons. But despite those good-faith efforts, he said, Brian was convicted on weapons charges and sent to prison in August.

" 'I don't think there are words yet invented that could characterize the -- I guess anger would be one word, but it's a lot deeper than anger,' Larry Aitken told on Wednesday. 'Whatever the word is that's a combination of anger, shock, disbelief, horror and a desire to expose all of this -- that's the word.

" 'This can't happen. I won't let this happen to my son.'..."

Scared of Guns? Move to New Jersey: You'll be 'Safe' There

The Lemming's guess is that Mr. Aitken's estranged wife has something to do with his prison sentence.

Maybe she was protecting her son from those big, scary guns.

The Lemming has lived in America for the last half-century or so, and understands the sort of hysterical fear that big, scary guns inspire in some of the more sensitive and high-strung folks who live here.

Looks like New Jersey is one of the safe havens, where folks are protected from big, scary guns.

Now, "understanding" isn't the same as "agreeing." The Lemming grew up on the North Dakota-Minnesota border, and doesn't have quite the same delicate, refined sensibilities as the folks in New Jersey apparently have. Certainly not where it comes to big, scary guns.

In another blog, the Lemming has discussed this distinctly counter-cultural attitude toward dangerous technologies: like guns, LP gas, and computers. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (June 27, 2008))

Now, are guns dangerous? Yes.

The Lemming thinks that there should be laws, regarding who uses guns and how they're stored. Just like there are laws about who may use LP gas, and how it's stored.

Maybe there should even be laws about folks whose mood 'darkens' - along the lines of Andy Capp's "I thought he was going to hit me, so I hit him back first."

But - and this is where the Lemming is counter-cultural - I think the sort of fear that put Mr. Aitken in prison for a seven-year sentence is: stark - raving - mad.

I also think that guns don't 'make' people do things - any more than Road Runner cartoons do. ("Demons aren't Dull," A Catholic Citizen in America (November 30, 2010))


Brigid said...

Was the estranged wife concerned for her son's safety or Mr. Aitken's? Was she the one who canceled the meeting? Did Mr. Aitken's mood darken simply because the meeting was canceled or did he know that his wife called the police? There's a bit of pronoun trouble and unclear sequence of events in the article cited.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Those are all good questions.

I haven't thoroughly researched the matter.

What does seem clear is that, whatever the actual reason for Mr. Aitken's seven-year prison sentence, the reason given is that he had purchased guns in Colorado, complete with FBI background check, asked the New Jersey police if it was okay to come into the state with them - and then done so.

If he'd been convicted on a charge of having a dark mood, or displeasing his estranged wife - that would have made sense. This 'makes sense,' too: but only from the 'guns are evil' point of view.

My opinion.

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