For better or worse, Chris Christie (R, New Jersey) will soon return to private life. Remember Chris? He’s the big fella’ who punished political opponents by closing highways. He closed a public beach and then took his family there for a private vacation. He’s a flawed character — as we all are — but he has done something right … or has he?
Here’s a story that will make your blood boil … and yet, its authenticity is widely challenged. Late on January 12, 2018, Governor Chris pardoned Meg Fellenbaum. It’s widely reported in the gun press, but otherwise … nada.
Now, this wasn’t a pardon like Clinton’s pardon of rich, international swindler Marc Rich or 16 members of FALN, a Puerto Rican paramilitary organization that set off 120 bombs in the U.S., mostly in New York City and Chicago. This wasn’t a pardon like Obama’s pardon of U.S. traitor and mental-health nut-case Bradley “Chelsea” Manning.
Meg Fellenbaum was a U.S. political prisoner. In New Jersey. Hers is a story that every holder of a concealed carry permit should understand, because traveling with a defensive weapon can be dangerous … as can traveling without one.
Meg stopped on the side of the road in Warren County, NJ, to text her girlfriend while on her way to their second residence in Hackettstown, NJ. Meg, who is gay, acquired and starting training with firearms following a series of attacks. At the time she stopped, she had legally owned firearms in the trunk of her car, locked and unloaded.
Suddenly a NJ state policeman was tapping at her window to see if she was OK and why she was stopped on the side of the road. Meg assured him that she was fine. (New Jersey law prohibits the use of handheld devices while driving, whether it be for a phone call, texting or emailing.) The officer returned to his patrol vehicle.
A minute later, as she was about to pull back onto the road, the officer returned. He said he noticed a single bullet laying on her backseat floor and asked if she was carrying a firearm. Meg replied “No,” since she was not carrying a firearm on her, and then added that she had a Pennsylvania permit. The officer asked to see it and noticed that it was expired. (NJ does not recognize PA carry permits.) He asked her to step out of the car, handcuffed her and read her Miranda rights.
The officer told her that she was not under arrest, but that she was being handcuffed “for her safety.” He handed her a clipboard with an official consent to search her car. She refused.
“Great!” the officer exclaimed. “Looks like we’re doing this the hard way! Let’s get it towed to the station!”
Meg was driven to the police station, where she was handcuffed to a bench and remained for 10 hours. The police questioned her and demanded that she consent to a vehicle search. During this time, she suffered panic attacks and her menstrual cycle began. She requested a tampon but, just like her requests for a lawyer and a phone call, it was denied. None at the station, they said. After many threats and being denied legal counsel and a phone call, the officers told her she had pissed off the judge and that they would get into her car one way or another.
After fighting through her tears, she again asked to call home to let her family know what was happening. The officers told her if she wanted her family to know, they would call for her. She again asked for her right to a lawyer, and the cops laughed at her.
Eventually, before she was sentenced to a year in jail, the police reported charging:
- Unlawful Possession of Weapons
- Possession of Hollow-Tip Ammunition
- Criminal Trespass (While texting her girlfriend, she landed on private property.)
It makes me angry just thinking about the injustice. But is this true? I’ve spent a modest amount of time online searching for facts about this case on independent sites, only to be endlessly rerouted in and out of a couple of pro-gun sites.
What I’m suggesting is that Fake News is everywhere. There is no such thing as an “objective reporter,” no matter how celebrated the state journalism college. It’s easy to become over-the-top angry in today’s political environment. So let’s trust, but verify. Ronald Reagan said it and I believe it. Otherwise … I’m not so sure.