By Michael Hill
“I had a female in here. She’s every bit of 5-foot and 80 pounds.” In a hidden-camera recording made by the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, an Orange Police Detective Sergeant appears to explain how he denied a handgun purchase permit to an applicant not based on New Jersey law but on the applicant’s size and gender. “I’m not going to say anyone can’t take a gun from me or, or you know. But, I’m just saying and I told her I’m going to be completely honest with you. In my opinion, I said, if I saw you and I saw you with a gun, especially here in Essex County, and the people we have here in this county. Um, I said yeah I’d be concerned with you having a firearm.”
And then the detective sergeant says he’s never lost an appeal and he has a wide range of reasons to deny the petite woman’s application. “Again it wasn’t anything against her. It’s not her fault she’s female and only, but I said we’ve got to look at the public safety.”
Orange Police have not responded to our requests for comment on the videotape.
Alex Roubian, President of the New Jersey 2nd Amendment Society said, “when we launched this investigation to expose the delays, bureaucracy and hypocrisy involved in the application process, we could not believe what we caught on camera.”
The New Jersey Second Amendment Society says it secretly recorded the Orange officer in November and that it has other hidden-camera recordings of other local police departments in New Jersey delaying and denying handgun purchase permits. “These instances are no different than a poll tax.”
New Jersey law allows police to deny handgun purchase permits for a variety of reasons including if the applicant is a convicted criminal, domestic violence offender, drug dependent, habitual drunkard, has a mental disorder, is younger than 21 or is on the Terror Watch list. “Sometimes, it’s not even discrimination. It’s an arbitrary unwillingness to do their job.”
Chief Chris Wagner, president of New Jersey State Police Chiefs Association replied, I don’t think there’s a blatant slowdown of pistol permits that are going on. I think it’s a simple fact that it’s a lengthy process. It takes longer than the 30 days that the statute sets.” He watched the secret recording of the Orange officer. “There’s no disqualifier that says because of a person’s physical stature that you should deny them a firearm and that comment caused me a little bit of concern.”
The 2nd Amendment Society says some state lawmakers’ opposition to gun ownership creates and upholds an entangled, bureaucratic process with often fatal results. Kathie Bowne, mother of a victim, said “she even told the police department that she knew he was going to kill her.”
This South Jersey family says it happened to Carol Bowne, murdered on the 45th day after she mistakenly had applied for a firearm identification card instead of a permit to buy to protect herself from her ex, a convicted abuser. Sister-in-law Danielle Owens added, “I think it’s disgusting that they wouldn’t protect her.”
Governor Christie used Bowne’s case to sign an executive order to shorten the statutory waiting period from a month to two weeks for those living under a threat. But, the 2nd Amendment Society says months later it still finds local police departments stalling and de facto denying gun ownership permits in countless cases. “There is no other aspect of society where this is acceptable and the New Jersey government has made it a standard for our 2nd Amendment rights.”
State police say gun permit discrimination cases should be reported to county prosecutors. The 2nd Amendment Society says it won’t wait for change to come from Trenton. Instead, it will pull the trigger on civil lawsuits and target cases of New Jersey blocking its citizens from the right to bear arms.