Army Officer Under Terrorist Threat Denied Carry Permit

The Picatinny Arsenal is located in Wharton, NJ.

It seems nothing will qualify someone for a concealed carry permit in New Jersey, not even being a U.S. Army soldier who works at a military site that has been under threat of terrorist attacks.

Lt. Col. Terry S. Russell, 27, holds a senior position at the Picatinny Arsenal in Wharton, N.J. (where the Picatinny Rail was developed). His application for a concealed-carry permit was denied by the Oceanport Chief of Police Daniel W. Barcus, who said Russell was unable to demonstrate the "justifiable need"' that New Jersey requires a citizen provide in order to qualify for a permit, according to this story from nj1015.com. New Jersey is a "may issue" state that is notorious for almost never granting concealed carry permits to anyone other than active and retired law enforcement officials.

Earlier this month, we reported that N.J. Attorney General Robert Lougy loosed restrictions in order to allow permits for residents who can prove "serious threats" against them. The changes have since been blocked by a resolution introduced and approved by the Democrat-dominated state legislature.

Lougy and Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who supported the changes, pointed to the case of Carol Bowne, a N.J. resident who was murdered in her driveway by an ex-boyfriend, against whom she had a restraining order. She had been waiting months for local police to approve her application to simply own a firearm for self defense at the time of her death. Her killer later hanged himself.

After his concealed carry application was denied, Russell filed an appeal with the Superior Court. Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni told Judge Joseph Oxley the permit should indeed have been denied, saying the soldier had indeed failed to meet the “justifiable need” requirement.

“None of these threats appear to specifically relate to this applicant—he is in no different position than any other person who is assigned to that facility,” he said in the story, adding that if Russell were granted a permit, other employees at PIcatinny would have to be given permits.

In Russell’s letter of need, which is required in the permit application process, he says “I have been fully trained and qualified, at a minimum annually, to skillfully employ handguns and rifle” and that he’s been “vetted through the Department of Defense security office every five years for the past 25 years to have Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance.”

The letter goes on to reference threats against the military and a desire to protect himself and his family, stating that “service members, including family members, have been specifically targeted by radical extremists.” He specifically mentions a “full evacuation” of the Picatinny Arsenal due to the discovery of a dry-run attempt to drive a “Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device” onto the post.

Russell already holds a concealed carry permit in Texas.

The story says that in a letter of appeal, Russell's attorney, Evan F. Nappen, argued that the denial of Russell's application is a violation of his Second Amendment rights and that the permit is required to protect himself physically as well as the "military intelligence he possesses."

"Failure to issue Lt. Col. Russell a carry permit puts national security at risk," Nappen wrote.

The judge ultimately agreed with the prosecutor, issuing an order that "thanks" Russell "for his service" but denies Russell's appeal, the story says.

Under NJ law, members of the military are exempt from the laws regarding possession of handguns, “but not at all times.” For instance, if Russell were to be caught carrying a firearm while not on duty, he wouldn’t be protected against unlawful possession laws.

Residents of the state are only permitted to have a firearm in their vehicle (which must have a trigger lock installed or be in a locked case out of reach of any vehicle occupants, separate from any ammunition) on the way to, or returning from a gun shop, a shooting range, or hunting. They are not permitted to stop anywhere or leave a firearm in a vehicle unattended.

To purchase and own a firearm, N.J. residents must obtain a Firearms Purchaser ID card, which requires a background check, mental health check, fingerprinting, and two letters of reference. They must then apply for a permit for each individual handgun they wish to purchase, which requires another background check, mental health check, and two letters of reference. Handgun purchase permits expire after 90 days, but may be renewed for another 90 if unused. When actually purchasing a firearm, residents must, of course, go through the federal NICS background check.