OK. We are a gun site, obviously, so while we don’t agree with unnecessary restrictions, we try to see both sides of the issue and give people fair reporting. (Unlike the anti-gun sites, we actually do try to be fair, but that’s beside the point here.) But this case got our blood boiling.
New Jersey is one of the most restrictive states on its gun laws. The lawmakers say it’s because of gang violence and to combat that they’ve added mandatory sentences for gun-related offenses. Now a decorated Marine in New Jersey was caught in these unfair crosshairs. Turns out though, thanks to the governor’s intervention, that there is a happy ending to this story.
The man is named Hasashi Pompey, and his firearm was legal, but it was not registered in the state of New Jersey. Due to New Jersey’s laws, there doesn’t have to be a crime committed to get in trouble over a gun. Just possessing it is enough to make someone a felon and land them in jail.
Pompey served as a military police sergeant over three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The article where I found out about this case said he received medals for bravery. He has a wife and young children and was facing three years behind bars. So what did he do?
“Six years ago, during a visit to New Jersey, then-Sgt. Pompey was at a Fort Lee nightclub when his friend got involved in a fight, grabbed Pompey’s gun out of his holster and carried it into a confrontation with police. No shots were fired. The friend was arrested but so was Pompey. While his gun was legally registered in Virginia, he had no New Jersey permit. Police charged him with unlawful possession of a handgun.”
So…here’s a side comment. We don’t think that Pompey should have been carrying a loaded weapon in a nightclub. We’ve talked so many times about how carrying and drinking don’t mix. That said, Pompey’s license was issued in Virginia, where it is legal for a person with a concealed carry license to have a gun in a bar, but they can’t drink alcohol while in that bar. We’re not excusing the fact that he had a gun in a nightclub, but it was his friend’s behavior, not his, that started this incident.
Pompey lost the appeal of his conviction and was supposed to surrender to New Jersey authorities on Monday, April 17 to begin a mandatory three-year prison term. No word on what the friend’s punishment is. Pompey’s legal team appealed to New Jersey governor Chris Christie to offer him clemency. On Saturday, news reports said that Governor Christie commuted his sentence but had yet to make a decision about whether to give Pompey a full pardon. We have to agree with Pompey’s lawyer here who stated that putting Pompey in jail would do nothing but ruin a good man’s life. We applaud Governor Christie for doing the right thing in this case.
Image of Hisashi Pompey (left) from washingtontimes.com