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N.J. Armed Robberies Make the Case for Carry

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Person with a gun committing armed robbery.

We all know about and have been celebrating the NYSRPA v. Bruen decision from June of 2022. No galaxy has seen a celebration like this since the Ewoks were victorious at the Battle of Endor. By August of 2022, N.J. subjects began to transition into citizens, as the first non-gentry started to get issued permits to carry. Also in August of 2022 a crime spree terrorized people in Passaic County, New Jersey. There’s much to learn from a November 22, 2023 announcement about charges being filed in connection with the criminal acts.

NEWARK, N.J. — Three New Jersey men were charged in connection with their respective roles in a series of armed robberies in Passaic County, New Jersey, in August 2022, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Kareem Powell, 30, of Willingboro, is charged by superseding indictment with two counts of Hobbs Act robbery and two counts of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Following his arrest on Nov. 21, Powell made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court and was detained.

Powell’s co-defendants, Carlos Diaz, 30, and Edward Porter, 30, both of Paterson, previously were charged by indictment with three counts of Hobbs Act robbery and three counts of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The superseding indictment charges Diaz and Porter with an additional count of Hobbs Act robbery as well as an additional count of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

This isn’t some pinko N.J. courtroom where a prosecutor is going to be playing ball with the suspects and use the revolving door. No, this is a Federal court with the operation of investigating and apprehending the individuals including a swath of policing agencies; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Field Division, the Sheriff’s department of Passaic County, and multiple police departments.

According to court documents, this is what the lot was up to that put them in their particular situation:

On the evening of Aug. 22, 2022, Powell, Diaz and Porter robbed a Passaic bodega of several thousand dollars while pointing their guns at a victim and threatening to kill him. Later that same evening, Powell, Diaz and Porter also robbed a Paterson business of several thousand dollars. During both robberies, Powell, Diaz and Porter menaced customers with handguns and ordered them to lie on the ground.

On the evening of Aug. 23, 2022, Diaz and Porter robbed a Passaic liquor store of several thousand dollars at gunpoint. While inside the store, Porter used his gun to pistol-whip a victim on the face. Later that evening, Diaz and Porter committed an additional gunpoint robbery of a business in Paterson. While inside the store, Porter pushed one victim and wrestled with a different victim, dragging the victim to the floor while attempting to take the victim’s handbag.

Each count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Hobbs Act robbery carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

What’s going to be the fate of this pair? We don’t know. They’ve only now just been charged in connection with these alleged crimes and we all know the system is a slog. Do we ever know the judicial system is a slog?

A solid takeaway here is that firearms are not going to be the answer to all problems when dealing with the criminal element. It’s important however to highlight that if a citizen or worker at that first bodega was armed, we might be looking at a different narrative today.

We simply don’t know what the outcome will be if an armed response is introduced into such equations. But what we do know is that if someone is armed, there’s a chance, a good one at that, that they’ll be able to effectively self-defend or defend others when being encountered by violent criminals. The disarmed, we know, are beyond disadvantaged. Post NYSRPA v. Bruen, we have expanded possibilities.

While we’re in the dog days of 2023, we have a lot to be thankful for, as well as a lot that we’re anticipating. The status of the N.J. carry law has been in flux since the legislature passed and the governor signed a draconian set of provisions into law. We’re in hopeful anticipation that we’ll be receiving more relief soon in the form of a preliminary injunction at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s a very unconstitutional law.

There are criminal predators out there preying on the good people from the Land of 1000 Diners. Garden Staters need to learn, know, and understand that they do now have this civil liberty – the right to both keep and bear arms – and as such, should consider getting trained, permitted, and start exercising that right. With the holidays in full swing, criminals are in their busy season. You don’t want to be one of their clients without any recourse.

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Ron Koons

Great Article John. Keeping us informed all the time. N.J. Assembly Committee Meeting, 11/14/22 “Does anybody really want to put more guns in the hands of people that live in Paterson and Newark and Elizabeth and Camden to say ‘oh, the money you’re charging* isn’t fair,’” said Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex). “That’ll make things safer? Please.” – Paterson, Newark, Elizabeth, and Camden: 5% white – Proposed CCW insurance: $300,000 – To buy and carry a gun costs $1,300, and that’s a cheap gun. This means that black law abiding citizens are disproportionately denied the ability to protect themselves in low… Read more »

Siegel/Koons v. Platkin
Oral arguments heard Oct 25
Awaiting opinion from 3rd Circuit of Appeals

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