Life As a Convicted Gun Offender Did Nothing Wrong

Posted: October 15, 2013 in Commentaries, Life As a Convicted Gun Offender Did Nothing Wrong

MY LIFE AS A CONVICTED GUN OFFENDER WHO DID NOTHING WRONG
By Brian D. Aitken

The author. Photo by Jenna Davila

At 6 AM, the sky outside my apartment is still purple-black. It’s too early. I stagger out of bed and stand under a scalding jet of water in the shower, trying to remember where I’ve been, where I am, and where I need to be. Oklahoma. Austin. Houston. In less than eight hours I have to climb a stage and tell a roomful of strangers my story. As far as stories go, it’s pretty interesting, I guess. It’s got thrills, heartbreak, what technically counts as crime, and even a little bit of vindication. But telling it wears me out. Living through it was more than enough.

Three years ago this month, thanks mostly to poorly written laws and a vindictive judge, I turned 27 while incarcerated in Mid-State Correctional Facility in Fort Dix, New Jersey.

I got sentenced to seven years in prison for legally owning guns. I had purchased them in Colorado and brought them with me to New Jersey, home to some of the harshest gun laws in the country, where I moved to be closer to my young son. I complied with all of the regulations, but one day the police searched my car and charged me with unlawful possession of a weapon—even though my handguns were locked, unloaded, and in my trunk. The court said it was on me to prove that I wasn’t breaking any laws, which obviously was very difficult. When Reason magazine covered my case, it wrote, “Even the jurors who convicted him seem to have been looking for a reason to acquit him. But the judge gave them little choice.” . .

Read more at http://www.vice.com/read/my-life-as-a-convicted-gun-offender-who-did-nothing-wrong

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