Nuclear efficiency systems engineer Jeremy Preston moved back into his house in Delaware from Tennessee, where his license to carry a concealed weapon was also legal in Delaware.
He bought a car and picked up a Delaware license.
There was no information on either state’s website to indicate the status of a gun permit would change when the drivers license was changed to a state with reciprocity.
He was stopped once in Pennsylvania, where he notified the officer that he had a registered gun in his glove box.
He was stopped in Delaware.
The second time he was stopped in Delaware, he again told the officer of the registered gun. The officer checked the permit and found it to be unlawful because the law says that when Mr. Preston relinquished his Tennessee drivers license, the gun permit automatically expired. Jeremy’s online research never revealed this and he was never notified.
The officer charged him with a felony.
Jeremy thought this was surely a mistake. He had never been in any trouble before and was a respected engineer.
His employer let Jeremy know that he could never work in the nuclear energy facility again as a felon. He would not be allowed on the property as long as the charge exists.
Jeremy was rightfully outraged. While the state codes make it clear there’s no excuse for ignorance of the law, there are so many laws on the books that no judge in this country knows all of the laws from state to state.
Conceal and carry laws are especially convoluted.
State Prosecutor Kathleen M. Jennings recognized Mr. Preston’s innocent confusion and told a reporter that this whole thing should be readily cleared.
Meanwhile, Mr. Preston’s bosses were not so sure. The mere accusation had his bosses “looking at (him) funny.” He couldn’t walk into a nuclear power plant. His education, career and reputation were hanging by a thread.
Fellow State Prosecutor Mark Denney concurred with Jennings, saying his office did not want “a stupid mistake” to burden Mr. Preston with a felony conviction.
“This was not something that needed to be treated as a violent felony or someone who had a horrible criminal history,” Denney said.
The felony charge was dropped.
As manager of The Office of the State Attorney General, Beau Biden, Delaware’s Attorney General and “Son of Joe,” certainly led from behind the scenes of this drama.
It’s his job to manage, oversee and take blame and credit for every decision and resolution of every case involving the department.
This example of righteous justice is an example of case-by-case rule of law consideration that should be the norm, not an exception, in a land where zero tolerance = zero thought = national policy.
Imagine police coming to peoples’ homes and taking legally owned shotguns and target pistols from their locked home safes because their spouse is on medication. You’ve just imagined California.
Imagine police coming to your home and taking your guns because your doctor prescribed you a psychotropic medication. You haven’t made any statements or engaged in any behavior that indicates you would do harm to yourself or anyone else. It’s just because of the prescription.
Wait. What about HIPAA, health information privacy laws?
Mysteriously, police find out about these prescriptions through magic, not by violating federal HIPAA laws.
You’ve just imagined what really happens in New York.
It’s perfectly reasonable in this day and age of government agencies spying on every citizen to consider the possibility that local police are cross-referencing gun registration databases with pharmacy databases.
If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
And, not unlike Mr. Preston’s case, how might employers react when they learn someone’s guns have been taken away?
This is why it’s important to note the case of Jeremy Preston.
It’s important to applaud the decision by the Delaware Attorney General’s office and hold it before the nation as an example to follow.
Rick Jensen is Delaware’s Award-Winning Conservative Talk Show Host on 1150AM WDEL and 93.7FM HD3, Streaming live on WDEL.Com from 1pm — 4pm EST. Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter@JensenVoiceover. This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.
© Copyright 2013 Rick Jensen
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