October 26, 2016

New Jersey gun laws punish TX man for legally owned guns

Dustin Reinenger

Dustin Reininger is a U.S. veteran and former police officer serving 3-5 years in a New Jersey prison for possession of firearms that he legally owned. As a result of the extreme and unjust New Jersey gun laws, Reininger was convicted of illegal possession of firearms as he was passing through the state.

Dustin Reininger is not from New Jersey. He was actually moving from Maine to Texas and was driving through New Jersey when he parked his car in a parking lot to rest for the night. Reininger was awakened in the night by police officers who searched his vehicle without a warrant. This unwarranted search was deemed justified because the officer saw two gun cases in the back of the vehicle. Reininger was transporting his entire gun collection that day and was arrested immediately.

Under the Firearm Owners Protection Act, citizens are actually allowed to transport firearms from state to state regardless of the legality of the guns between departure point and destination. For full protection under this act, however, citizens must keep their firearms locked in either the trunk or a case. Reininger’s only error was keeping his firearms in an unlocked case.

Reininger’s careless oversight resulted in the 3-5 year prison sentence he is currently serving. This was not a criminal act. This is a mistake you or I could make. Reininger is guilty of a technical violation. The purpose of America’s prisons is not to hold honest citizens guilty of accidental infractions, but to punish those criminals who have intentionally broken the law for personal gain.

The terrible irony is that if Reininger had been living in New Jersey, he would have qualified for a state firearm ID card. “If he’d had one, he wouldn’t have been guilty of this offense,” said Evan Nappen, Reininger’s attorney on the case. “He didn’t have one because he didn’t live here. He was in transit and all the guns were lawfully his. So you have a situation where he is, in effect, turned into a criminal by New Jersey’s gun laws.”

Dustin Reininger is eligible for parole in the coming year. His prison sentence could be over soon, but his criminal record will remain. Not only has he lost years of his life, but as a felon, he may also lose the right to vote or own a firearm in the future. While Reininger will never get the time back that he has spent in prison, he can have a future. What Dustin Reininger deserves now and the least that New Jersey can offer him now is a pardon from the governor.

The pardon process exists for situations like this. Dustin Reininger has more than paid his debt to society and the time is long overdue to excuse him and let him return to his normal life. This is an error in the legal system that needs to be corrected. The state of New Jersey needs to make amends. Please contact Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, to inform him of your concern about this case and to ask him to pardon Dustin Reininger.

Governor Christie can be contacted through the following channels:




Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625



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