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Pardon highlights issues surrounding gun felonies

Many New Jersey readers have seen media coverage of a pardon recently announced by Governor Chris Christie. The case involved a young man who was pursuing a career in law enforcement when he found himself on the wrong side of the law. The story has led to an increased awareness and renewed debate on the state's stance toward gun felonies.

The man at the center of the case is 24 years old and was working as an armed security guard when he encountered legal difficulties. He had gone through the process of applying for a permit to carry a handgun that he legally owned. However, that application had not yet been approved before he stowed the weapon in the glove box of his car. He had been cleaning the weapon in his garage when his 6-year-old sister came in, and he tucked the gun into the compartment so that she would not see it.

Later that evening, he was driving the car with his girlfriend when he was pulled over by police. When he realized that the gun was in the car, he told the officer and turned the weapon over. He was cited for an expired vehicle registration and the weapon was confiscated. The young man was told to report to the local police department the following week to pick up his weapon but was arrested when he arrived. He was eventually accepted a plea deal in which he admitted to the unlawful possession of a firearm, which is a felony.

After his attorney challenged that criminal record and word spread of the matter, debate arose surrounding New Jersey's gun laws and the ease with which individuals can be charged with felonies. The young man sought a pardon from the Governor and was eventually successful in that endeavor. He is now able to move forward in his dream of becoming a police officer. In the meantime, the case has certainly raised awareness of the state's gun legislation and the risks of running afoul of those laws.

Source: Fox News, "Christie pardons NJ man whose legally owned gun made him convicted felon", Cristina Corbin, June 9, 2015