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calendar   Thursday - January 29, 2009

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

This is another post on my experience of applying for a Pistol Purchase Permit here in the Worker’s Paradise of New Jersey. It’s been a bit over 30 days now, which is what a toothless NJ law says is the allowed time limit for the process to take. By now all the various dark and dusty corners of my life should have had the pure light of investigation shown on them; all my little rocks should have been overturned and the worms underneath accounted for. A decision on my level of sanity and social malfeasance should have been reached. It hasn’t yet, so now it’s up to me to figure out what I should do about that.

In the meantime I’ve done quite a bit of research. Since “ignorance of the law is no excuse” I’ve looked up and read every single law my state has on the books regarding the legal acquisition and legal use of firearms. There are lots of them. It’s been quite the eye opener. NJ even has laws about what questions can and can not be on the application form.

I wish somebody had asked me. I would have asked two questions and that would have covered everything: “1) Are you a nutter? If so tell us about it.” and “2) Have you ever been in trouble with the law? If so, tell us about it”. To which my answers would be 1) NO and 2) I’ve had a few speeding tickets over the years, and I got caught with a shoebox full of fireworks when I was 23 and had to pay a $40 fine. And that would be that. Oh, and in 4th grade I once told the teacher, Mrs. Blair, that I had my trombone lesson when I actually didn’t, and snuck out of class for half an hour. And that got me sent to the principal’s office, although no criminal charges were filed.

But such a simple solution like that would never work, and I’m being naive by assuming that people are as honest an open as I am. So the law is that my background must be investigated by the proper authorities. Ok, fine, have it your way. But after a couple weeks of waiting I started to wonder what that meant, so I started looking for answers. And what I found is pretty amazing. I had no idea just how much investigation is done, and that awareness really opened my eyes to the level of “watchbird"-ism that our government has. On the one hand I can see the need for almost all of it. On the other hand this awareness really gets under my skin because it shows how little freedom we may actually have. Or maybe that “little freedom” just applies to those who have broken the law.

Or are thinking of breaking the law.

This is a (assumed to be partial) list of all the agencies that New Jersey contacts during the firearms application background check process. I also get investigated by the FBI, and I have no idea at all what other things they might do. How do I know this? Because the entire world is online these days, and that includes the background check form that the New Jersey State Police use just for this purpose. Behold, the mighty form SP 407, NJ “FAIR”, the Firearms Applicant Investigation Report, which records the results from contact with these agencies:

Wow. That’s a lot. I feel the need to go take a shower after reading it all. In the dark, to defeat the hidden cameras. And I’m running low on tinfoil, better go to the store after that.

Interestingly, the NICS check that gets run on me, by law, when I actually get the one gun pistol purchase permit and use it before it expires in 90 days, also checks me out with NCIC, III, the NJ Domestic Violence Registry, Mental Health, and DMV all over again. Just in case I’ve turned into Al Capone in the meantime.

The NICS Operation Center transmits a formatted message to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) NICS Operation Center accessing the Interstate Identification Index (III), National Crime Information Center (NCIC) hot files and the NICS Index. In addition to these files the NJSP NICS Operation Center accesses the following New Jersey data bases: the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Domestic Violence Central Registry, the Division of Mental Health Services (DMHS) Census and USTF databases, the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) files and the NJSP Firearms Investigations Unit files.

The [NJ SBI] Bureau has management responsibility for the following statewide programs:

* Master Name Index
* Computerized Criminal History System
* Noncriminal User Fee System
* Megan’s Law Sex Offender Registry
* Central Drug Registry
* Interstate Identification Index
* Court Disposition Reporting System
* Automated Fingerprint Identification System
* Arrest and Conviction Flag File
* National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)
* New Jersey Wanted Person System (NJWPS)
* National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
* Criminal Justice Information Systems
* Volunteer Review Operation
* Expungement

Which leads me to wonder, why not just take my fingerprints and run them through AFIS? If they come up clean, run me through NICS right there at the police station. If that clears, I’m good to go. The exact same checks are done at the point of purchase as are done during the application process. NICS takes a minute or two. The application process takes 30 days by law, but no more than 10 days maximum in real life to acquire the data. Most aspects of it take less than 10 minutes, probably less than 10 seconds, and are coordinated by the CIU of the SBI of the NJSP so that they all fire off at the same time. So why is Trooper H telling me this is a 3 to 6 month process, and maybe longer?

The Great And Powerful Oz seems to have the whole world at their fingertips; I think the process should take less time than it takes to even fill out the forms. I must be missing something. Oh yeah. The mental health part. Which is also completely computerized.

Maybe I should take 2 showers, just in case.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/29/2009 at 04:25 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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