Why is New Jersey Trying to Prosecute a Security Guard for Legally Transporting a Legal Handgun?

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posted on March 13, 2020
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So I was on the phone with Evan Nappen, a New Jersey attorney known for his decades of work on gun-related cases in a state that often treats law-abiding gun owners as criminals, and he’s clearly in shock. Not with the facts of the case surrounding his client, Roosevelt Twyne, a 25-year-old African-American security guard, but rather with a state prosecutor’s brazen attempt to use the law to harm a licensed gun owner.

Twyne was on his way home from work when he was pulled over by a police officer in Roselle Park, New Jersey, for having tinted windows. “Twyne volunteered right away that he had a gun, even though that’s not required by law,” Nappen said. Twyne also offered to show the officer his permit, but he soon found himself being arrested.

“Look, Roosevelt Twyne is a young African-American man who was pulled over for having tinted windows who was subsequently arrested even though he was clearly not breaking any laws,” said Nappen. “Now he is being charged with crimes he is obviously innocent of.”

Twyne was soon facing charges for illegally transporting a handgun and for possessing illegal hollow-point ammunition. “He has a permit to carry the handgun,” said Nappen, who supplied a photo of the permit for this article. “The law makes it clear that it’s illegal to transport a handgun unless you are licensed pursuant to Chapter 58, which Twyne is,” Nappen said. “He is a guard for an armored truck company. He needs the gun for his job and he has gone to great lengths to meet the complex requirements of New Jersey’s onerous gun laws in this ‘may-issue’ state. The evening he was was pulled over, he was on his way home from work. He is legally permitted to transport his handgun from his home to his work and back again.”

As for the “hollow-point” ammo, Twyne had the gun loaded with Hornady Critical Duty ammunition. This ammo has a polymer tip, not a hollow point. “Hornady Critical Duty is actually specifically listed on the New Jersey State Police’s website as being legal,” said Nappen. Hornady Critical Duty also happens to be the ammo Twyne’s New Jersey employer uses.

Nevertheless, a New Jersey prosecutor moved forward to charge Twyne with crimes. Twyne’s employer then suspended him. While suspending an employee who is accused of committing multiple gun crimes is an understandable reaction for a security company, this action from a prosecutor’s office that should know the law means that Twyne was effectively put out of work.

Twyne said in a statement that the charges have “tainted my name and reputation, which I have worked hard to attain … as a black man trying to make a difference.”

“Unfortunately, New Jersey officials have a habit of attempting to punish law-abiding gun owners,” said Nappen, who said Twyne’s legal battle reminds him of his former client Shaneen Allen, an African-American mother who accidently drove into the state with her handgun (she was licensed to have the gun in Pennsylvania). Allen was pulled over for a traffic violation. She told the officer she had a handgun. She was then arrested and faced years in jail before she was pardoned by then-governor Chris Christie (R) in 2015.

“The difference with Shaneen is she made an honest mistake,” Nappen said. “Twyne didn’t make any mistakes. He followed every part of the law. The officers should have simply checked his permit and sent him on his way. When they pulled him over, Twyne was a block away from his home. He showed them his license. He was even allowed to go home to get documentation showing he bought the gun legally—that’s hardly required. Twyne is clearly a good guy on our side. On the side of law and order. Why is he then subjected to the next phase with both the charges that are baseless?”

A crowdfunding effort on GoGetFunding.com to pay for Twyne’s defense had raised over $59,000 from over 2,000 people as of March 12.

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