The Somerset County(N.J.) Prosecutor’s Office may withdraw its appeal of a decision to drop assault weapons charges against a former Far Hills police officer.
Prosecutor Wayne J. Forrest confirmed Friday he was considering a request from the state Attorney General’s Office to drop the fight against a judge’s ruling that Ken Moose Jr. legally possessed an assault weapon.
“We’re considering this as an option for resolution,” Forrest said.
Moose was charged with possession of an assault weapon in October 2002, two months after he was suspended from the Far Hills Police Department because of questions about his mental fitness for duty. As part of his suspension, he turned over all his weapons — including a World War II-era M-1 carbine assault rifle, which is listed in New Jersey’s assault weapons ban.
Moose and his attorney argued he was allowed to possess the gun under a loophole in the law that allowed municipal or county police officers to have them “at all times while in the state of New Jersey.”
Here is where I’m conflicted. The cops get “special dispensation” in these laws instead of being treated as civilians like the rest of us. And they are civilians like the rest of us, not being under the rules of military justice. I’ve repeated it again and again, but Robert Peel’s Nine Principles spell this out:
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Yet in New Jersey and everywhere else they have special rights and privileges denied to those of us who don’t wear a badge and draw a government paycheck.
But this guy followed the rules. When suspended, he turned in the weapon that was denied to him as a regular joe like the rest of us, only to be prosecuted for having it in the first place.
But Matthew Murphy, assistant Somerset County prosecutor, argued in court papers the Legislature never intended for the law to apply to the private possession of those weapons by police officers in their home. He said to rule differently would create a “secret society” of police officers with otherwise illegal weapons that aren’t registered or regulated.
Seems the Prosecutor and I see things similarly, but in this case he’s completely wrong – the law did indeed apply to the private possession of these weapons. That’s what people like me object to. When Silveira v. Lockyer was first argued before the 9th
Circus Circuit one argument was that the Roberti-Roos “Assault Weapon Ban” did exactly the same thing – made police officers a “secret society” allowed to have these supposed horrible weapons of destruction without registration or regulation. While the Court (unsurprisingly) upheld the majority of the law – they agreed and struck the police exemption. New Jersey hasn’t had a similar challenge, and the courts there have (in this case) decided that officer Moose was within the law:
But Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman disagreed, saying the law clearly exempted municipal police officers. He welcomed review of his ruling by both the appeals court and the Legislature, which this year will consider whether to close the loophole.
There’s always a “next step” in gun control legislation. Another “loophole” to be filled, another restriction to be “tightened.”
“This confirms that the indictment never should have been brought, and that the appeal would not have been successful if the judges had been allowed to make a decision,” Moose’s attorney Brian Cige said Friday.
Cige said he hoped dropping the appeal would help Moose return to law enforcement.
Moose said he would like nothing better than to find another job as a police officer. But he remained angry at the entire process.
“What do I do to rebuild my life once politics took it away?” he asked.
Welcome to the world of us mere “civilians,” Mr. Moose. Ask that question of Joseph Pelleteri who lost his livelihood and his right to arms over a Marlin Model 60 .22 caliber rifle he had never even shot.
You’ll excuse me if my sympathy for your particular plight is small to non-existant.