New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie commuted the sentence of a 27-year old gun owner who was sentenced to seven years in prison for possession of firearms. Mr. Aitken was pulled over by New Jersey police in January of 2009 following a phone call he had with his mother who thought he was a danger to himself. The police found two unloaded handguns and ammunition in his car trunk. Mr. Aitken was then arrested on weapons charges. The New Jersey Star Ledger writes:
Brian Aitken, the 27-year-old cause celebre for gun advocates nationwide, was released from prison this morning after his sentence was commuted by Gov. Chris Christie. The National Rifle Association cheered the decision.
“On behalf of the 4 million members of the National Rifle Association of America, I would like to thank Governor Christie for freeing Brian Aitken in time to spend the holiday with his family,” Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement.
Cox called for changes to New Jersey’s gun laws, which are among the strictest in the county.
“While Governor Christie’s grant of clemency was absolutely the right thing to do, Brian Aitken’s case is just one example of how New Jersey’s ridiculous gun laws turn law-abiding gun owners into criminals,” Cox said in his statement. “There is a serious need to reform New Jersey’s gun laws so that the full weight of the state’s law enforcement and legal system falls squarely on the shoulders of criminals, not on people like Brian Aitken.”
Mr. Aitken placed a statement on his website and Facebook pages thanking supporters:
I wanted to briefly thank a few people individually for all of their hard work—and I couldn’t think of a better place to do so than here (my very own Facebook Page, crazy)!
Governor Christie, thank you. Seriously. I understand the risk you assume while making any decision that affects the People of New Jersey and that this was no trivial decision for you. In the days and years that will come to pass I am positive you will find yourself proud of your decision… and if you heard that quote about me running against you for President; I was just kidding. :)
Dennis Malloy, thank you. You’ve helped deliver an amazing gift this Christmas for a very loving and deserving family. I wouldn’t be typing these words right now if it wasn’t for you.
Richard Gilbert & Evan Nappen, thank you. You’ve been amazing counsel through this all and I’m proud to have you represent me in this case.
To the 15,000+ Facebook supporters, thank you. To each and every person who wrote the Governor, thank you. To each and every person who wrote to me and sent me hope… thank you.
To the Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines who wrote me from overseas - thank you for your kind words and your dedication to our country. The work you do amasses a debt that can never be repaid and I am humbled that you supported me from bases and War Zones around the globe. Thank you.
Lastly, thank you to my family, friends and beautiful fiancee. I’m lucky to have you all in my life.
There is a great deal of work yet to be done but, in the meantime, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.
My very best,
Brian D. Aitken