Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Brian Aitken's "The Blue Tent Sky": bring "legal" guns into New Jersey, go to jail

Author: Brian D. Aitken
Title: “The Blue Tent Sky: How the Left’s War on Guns Cost Me My Son and my Freedom
Publication: 2014, Black Bear Books, ISBN 978-0-9906554-0-4, 273 pages, hardcover (also paper and ebook), 14 chapters
Amazon link

Author’s own publishing services website here
A note on the typesetting: it’s unusual in that paragraphs are not indented, but marked by extra double spaces, which is the way PDF’s get created from Word documents by the Word add-on.  Online free versions (not the Kindle, but the version on my “”) of my own books look like this in PDF.  I will be rethinking all of this for my own books in 2015 as I build my new “portfolio”, but that is for another time. 

I discussed the Cato book forum for this book on my Issues blog Dec. 11, 2014, and have some QA video here
The book is indeed a very personal account, a memoir.  The author, now 28, describes a somewhat checkered life with an out-of-sequence narrative that is sometimes hard to follow in detail.  He had worked in media sales, in New York and Colorado.  He met a young woman to whom he proposed, but serious problems in the marriage, leading to divorce, happened right after the son was born. 
 There is a sense of haste in the way he made some decisions.  There is some material where he expresses real anger at his former wife. Divorce (with custody and visitation battles) can be a very bad scene.  I’ve missed all that in life.
Aitken decided to move back to New Jersey from Colorado to have more visitation with his son.  He says that he checked the legal requirements for bringing his personal weapons into New Jersey carefully before the move.
Nevertheless, things got complicated for him at the beginning of 2009, he goes between an apartment in Hoboken, and his parents’ home in Mt. Laurel.  It’s not clear why his mother called 911 and dropped it, but the police got nosey, and really did go way overboard, because of some kind of left-wing profiling (and the writer is white). 

Aitken would be arrested and charged with illegally transporting his personal weapons without a permit, although his ownership of the guns in a home would have been legal.  In front of both the grand jury and then at trial, jurors were prevented from being told about the “exceptions” on New Jersey’s carry laws.

One can perhaps understand this with a grand jury (which is supposed to be the prosecution’s show) but not before a trial jury.  The judge seemed to think that the issue of whether Aitken was “moving” was not a point that a jury could legally decide. The state maintained that Aitken was keeping the guns in his car illegally out of laziness or convenience, and wasn’t really finishing a household move, but the judge wouldn’t let the jury decide it.

Aitken’s description of life in a county jail is quite harrowing.  After some machinations, attorneys would get Gov. Chris Christie (a Republican) to commute the sentence to time served, after about four months.  And most of the conviction would be overturned on appeal, except for illegal possession of “hollow point” ammunition, which is supposed to be more destructive.  Because of that one conviction, which stands on a technicality, Aitken remains a convicted felon, unable to do things like rent his own apartment.
The Daily Caller has an interview with the author here
The underlying message seems to be, if you bring guns into New Jersey and get caught, you’re going to jail. 

As I've noted before, the question as to whether someone is better off when armed is very mixed.  Twice I've met possible carjackers by just driving away.  Nothing happened.  Maybe I was lucky.  (In one case, the white perpetrator was so stoned on drugs that he couldn't have carried it out.)  Piers Morgan is always saying that incidents in Australia stopped after gun control was implemented, but look at what happened Dec. 15.  Maybe if the shop owner had been armed, the incident wouldn't have happened. Gun laws just don't seem to keep weapons away from criminals. But they may keep them away from kids and mentally unstable people.
First picture (mine): coastal New Jersey in early 2013, after Sandy. 

Update:  Feb 3, 2015

The idea of a police welfare check is explained in the HBO film "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" as explained on the Movies blog today. 

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