By Dan Roberts
Manasquan, NJ --(Ammoland.com)- In an effort to present a full picture to the plight of outspoken NJ Gun law critic James Kaleda, I felt it wise to devote an entire column to the dissection of the New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification card application.
An unwary or naive applicant can easily run afoul of the law, through no real fault of their own and absent any criminal intent or deliberate effort to mislead or provide false information
The exact nature of the information Mr. Kaleda has been accused of falsifying is unknown to date. But I am of the firm belief that his detainment is retribution for his vocal opposition against proposed New Jersey’s anti gun legislation. Based on experience and numerous reputable sources, as well as the fact that Mr Kaleda previously held a New Jersey Resident Firearms Identification Card. In addition Mr. Kaleda successfully purchased numerous firearms when he was a New Jersey resident.
An applicant, through no real fault of their own, when completing the New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification card forms, can be caught in this clerical trap. That is what James Kaleda has been charged with by the NJ State Police, providing “false information” on a Non Resident Firearms ID Card Application. A “crime” that is a Third Degree Felony under NJ Law. Punishable by up to five years in State Prison!
That is right, the openly institutionalized Anti Gun Bigotry that is practiced in NJ is so over the top that an otherwise innocent citizen, having absolutely no prior record of any kind, could face incarceration in state prison if found guilty of a simple clerical error.
As more people become aware of what has happened to Mr Kaleda, I have been deluged with reports from other persons around the state concerning similar injustice. But I have yet to discover another New Jersey resident pursued to the lengths that Mr Kaleda has been pursued by the New Jersey State Police. That is not to say those cases don’t exist, merely that I have not heard about them yet.
I seen random reports of New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification card applicants being advised that one or more of their answers to the ten specific questions asked on the Firearms Purchaser Identification card application were “wrong” ( also known as false). The applicants were permitted to come in and make the necessary correction with no reprisals. Other applicants reported having their New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification card application denied, forcing the applicant to appeal that denial to the County Superior Court and having the denial overturned. I have found no other instance where the New Jersey State Police has detained an Individual Firearms Purchaser Identification card applicant for a clerical error.
There are any number of potential explanations for why some mistakes on the FID card Card application are handled simply by allowing the applicant the opportunity to change their answer(s), as opposed to treating them like a hardened criminal involved in a deliberate effort to deceive.
Things as unpredictable as the personal views, opinions or biases of the Officer who accepts the completed paperwork. To the Officer that actually conducts the formal background check and review of the application at the local or State level as the case may be. To an Officer at the State Police Firearms Investigation Unit, or the local Chief of Police who signs off and approves the ID Card, even the Prosecutor in the town/municipality where the applicant lives. All have the discretionary authority as to how to handle clerical errors on the application.
Friendly with the local Chief or politically connected or powerful? Chances are 9 times out of 10 you will be offered the opportunity to make changes with no repercussions or simply have your application denied without being referred for charges.
The case of Camden City Councilman Curtis Jenkins is a perfect illustration of this in practice. Curtis is quoted in the linked article as saying he was “unaware that he was required to report a non violent offense” on his Firearms Purchaser Identification card application. As far as I can determine, Curtis was never charged with a criminal offense of “providing false information” and his Firearms Purchaser Identification card Card and related paperwork and pistol purchase permits were quietly revoked and turned over with no further action.
Does Curtis’ excuse make him any less guilty of the offense? The Firearms Purchaser Identification card application is pretty clear on the question of whether or not the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime (Question 20). It makes no distinction as to whether or not the crime one was convicted of was violent or non violent, its based on the possible sentence that could have been handed down upon a finding or plea of guilt.
So, a City Councilman, in one of the most dangerous cities in the country, makes a rather large “mistake” on his Firearms Purchaser Identification card application and it is handled relatively quietly. With the appearance of an investigation as little more then Kabuki theater and not much else. Certainly NOT the issuance of an arrest warrant or charges being filed.
Which questions on the New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification card application are the most problematic and likely to ensnare the unwitting? I will raise the most troublesome ones and provide examples of how they can trap people in no particular order:
Question #17 States: “Are you subjected to any Court Order pursuant to Domestic Violence? “
Given the fact that the application is a type of Background Check Form asking repeatedly about criminal offenses and other disqualifying incidents in ones background, it is quite understandable how someone could innocently and naively answer this question wrong.
I have heard from people that it has happened to. Naturally, if you haven’t been accused, committed or been found guilty of a crime related to Domestic Violence, an applicants natural instinct is to answer NO.
However, I have been made aware of instances where even the (victim) of Domestic Violence was advised that this was considered incorrect to answer NO and would be “providing false information”. And, if those in power wanted to, could be used as evidence against them. Technically that is accurate. As even a victim who files for and receives a Temporary Restraining Order or Final Restraining Order is in fact then “subject to any Court Order pursuant to Domestic Violence”. Its also true that a space is offered on the form to explain in more detail beyond just checking the box. But few if any reasonable people, as the victims of Domestic Violence, filling out the application for themselves, would rationally consider answering that question in the affirmative. The usually safe assumption , given the subject matter and previous questions is that the question refers to someone being the (accused).
Question #21 asks: Do you suffer from a physical defect or disease ? And the follow up #22, elaborates . ” If answer to question #21 is yes, does this make it unsafe to handle firearms ? If not, explain.
How this question manages to survive its potential use for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act is a mystery. And there have in fact been cases where an applicant was denied as a result of some illness or handicapped status and then had to go to the incredible and costly lengths of suing the State to have the rejection overturned. Not to mention the vagueness of the question itself? What is type of suffering and to what level? What qualifies as a physical defect?
Question #26 wants to know: “Have you ever been tended, treated or observed by any Doctor or psychiatrist, or at any hospital or mental institution, on in inpatient or outpatient basis for any mental or psychiatric condition? “
Clearly this question can be the undoing of any number of people for completely innocent reasons, and expose them to the possibility of being charged with a crime.
- If you have gone through a messy separation, divorce or other significant life event and needed someone to talk things out, is the correct answer yes or no?
- If you are a cop that has been involved in a shooting and troubled by it, or a member of Fire Rescue that has seen a particularly gruesome scene and you see a “Crisis Counselor” in the aftermath of the incident , either individually or as part of a group does that count as being “tended or treated for any mental or psychiatric condition”?
- What about our noble and heroic Veterans, having seen and survived the unimaginable horrors of War and they speak to someone, even a single time, about PTSD is the correct answer yes or no?
- Trying to quit smoking and your general practitioner Doctor prescribes one of several “Anti Depressants” that are often effective at helping to quit? You are now by most anyone’s definition being “treated by a Doctor” and taking a prescribed drug that is often used in the treatment of “mental conditions“, even if that is not the case for you.
- Something as simple as Postpartum Depression could trigger exposure to a charge of “providing false information”
- What if, as a teenager, you are at odds with your parents who insist on having you evaluated? Fast forward twenty years, the incident long forgotten. You have a happy and stable life, your own home, a good job, you’ve even patched things up with Mom and Dad? You apply for a NJ Firearms ID Card and check “no” . Then you are told that is not true and you provided “false information”? Yes it has happened.
- What about having the same name or other identifying information as an actual criminal? You guessed it, your application is flagged and you are told you “provided false information“.
Can examples such as these be resolved without having charges filed? Yes they can, but as I pointed out at the beginning of the article, depending on the completely unpredictable nature of the Officials involved in the processing of the paperwork. One applicant might be offered a chance to correct the clerical error. Or you may have to appeal to the County Superior Court. Or you may have charges filed against you and having to defend yourself as in the case of James Kaleda.
At the risk of violating Goodwins Law, I will point out there are at least two indisputable examples of the practice of those deemed “mentally unfit” or “undesirable” or political enemies being forcibly disarmed and persecuted by their respective Governments. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, both documented socialist regimes.
And finally, there is Question #28: “Are you presently, or have you ever been a member of any organization which advocates or approves the commission of acts of force and violence, either to overthrow the Government of the United States or of this State, or which seeks to deny others their rights under the Constitution of either the United States or the State of New Jersey? If yes, list name and address of organization(s)”
It is the height of irony that a significant number of people in all three branches of Government in NJ would be forced to answer Yes to this question. For they regularly draft, enact, and enforce laws whose sole purpose is intentionally designed to deprive Citizens of their Second Amendment Rights!
Authors Note: Although the copy of the FID Card app attached to this article is for a NJ Resident FID Card, and Mr Kaleda has been charged with “falsifying information” on the NON Resident version of the application, there is little if any difference between the two applications and any that may exist are so minor as to be irrelevant for the purposes of this column.
About Dan Roberts Dan Roberts is a grassroots supporter of gun rights that has chosen AmmoLand Shooting Sports News as the perfect outlet for his frank, ‘Jersey Attitude’ filled articles on Guns and Gun Owner Rights.As a resident of the oppressive state of New Jersey he is well placed to be able to discuss the abuses of government against our inalienable rights to keep and bear arms as he writes from deep behind NJ’s Anti-Gun iron curtain. Read more from Dan Roberts or email him at DRoberts@ammoland.com You can also find him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dan.roberts.18