by Marty Hayes, J.D.
We lead off this month’s message with the story of Steffon Lamont Josey. Some of you may know about this, so I will write the following for those who do not. According to Steffon, he is a resident of New Jersey, and up until his arrest and conviction on an unlawful gun charge, he was an armored car driver and was testing to become a police officer. He lawfully owned a handgun for his job and normally transported the weapon secured in the truck of his car.
On the day in 2013 that the problems began, he had been surprised by his six-year old sister as he was getting ready to go to work, so he slipped the gun into the glove box of the car as that was quicker than putting it in the trunk and he wanted it out of the little girl’s sight. Steffon then headed off to work. When stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation, he remembered the gun was in the glove box and told the police officer about it. The cop wrote the ticket and confiscated the gun, telling him to come down to the police station to pick it up.
At the police station, Steffon was arrested for a crime, even though he legally owned the gun. Now, here is where the picture gets fuzzy. Apparently, some time after the arrest and before trial, he was offered a plea deal to avoid spending any time in prison. New Jersey has a mandatory five years in prison for any gun offense. Well, Steffon, fearing prison, took the deal, and as a result became a convicted felon, even though the gun was legally his. His transgression was transporting the gun in the glove box of the car, instead of the trunk. And for that, he has lost his job and any hope of becoming a police officer (unless he can get the conviction overturned on appeal or be pardoned). And that is his current situation.
He posted a link to his story on the Network Facebook page, and I am going to re-post it here. He wrote, “Armored guard aspiring to become a police officer from NJ facing 10 years for his legal owned firearm in NJ help save him! #2A (https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/2a?source=feed_text) Anything helps! Steffon & Evan Nappen are battling to win the appeal please help! gofundme.com/pardonsteffonjosey
Why, when Steffon was NOT a member of the Network, and this was NOT a self-defense case, am I discussing the case? Because Steffon is black, that is why. Let me explain.
The following may be controversial. It is NOT the opinion of the Network, but mine alone. I also think it needs to be said. You see, I think that the black community is being used as pawns by the predominantly white, leftist media, in an end-run attack on the Second Amendment and our way of life as gun owners, starting with the George Zimmerman/Travon Martin incident, then the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson incident, then the Eric Garner/NYPD case (not a shooting case but the hysteria was the same).
Here is how I believe the narrative plays out: before the facts are known, the media jumps to the conclusion that an innocent black man was killed by white police (or in Zimmerman’s case a White-Hispanic wanna-be cop). The media then whips up hysteria, and before we know it, there are protests and even riots in the streets (think Ferguson, MO). Of course, this is all of great benefit to the news reporting stations, which then go on 24/7 reporting the incident and whipping up even more hysteria and frenzy.
What is missing, of course, are the reports of white people being killed by police under similar circumstances or of white people being killed by black people. Why? I guess it is perhaps because there is no history of white folks rioting and/or protesting when one of their population is killed. Why do blacks riot and protest? I do not know, but perhaps we can get someone with the answer to that question to respond here.
Which takes us back to Steffon and his case. Was he prosecuted because he was a young black man with a gun? Would a white person have been given a pass?
We all remember Shaneen Allen, a Pennsylvania black woman who mistakenly believed that she could lawfully carry a pistol in New Jersey because she had a Pennsylvania concealed weapon permit. She was arrested in 2013 under very similar circumstances (pulled over for a traffic offense in NJ and told the officer that she had a handgun in the car). The charges against her were finally dropped in mid-2014. Evan Nappen, who is a Network Affiliated Attorney, got involved in the
Allen case and Allen received probation and thus avoided jail for the gun offense.
Would a white male be given the same courtesy? If what Steffon says is true (and I have no reason to not believe him), I think that perhaps some Network members might want to know about his case and send the young man a few bucks to help fight his conviction.
Here is the link to Steffon's Go-fund-me page http://www.gofundme.com/pardonsteffonjosey, in case you might be inclined to give a few bucks to the cause. I did, and I personally hope you will, too.
Race and Self Defense
In pondering the above story, this is my question: How can we (an organization comprised predominantly of white gun owning males) help to solve this issue? (While I realize that not all Network members are white males, the fact is that white males make up the large majority of Network members.) Well, being a white gun owning male myself, I really don’t have a clue.
I personally try to lead my life as a color blind individual, but when an Al Sharpton slaps me in the face and calls me a racist thug (as he did each and every white gun owning male during the George Zimmerman/Travon Martin case) it is difficult not to give some additional thought to the issue of race and how it plays in a self-defense scenario.
The reason this is such a big deal for me is that as President of the Network, I do not want to see our Network members being arrested and prosecuted because of the color of their skin, be that black, brown or white, nor do I want Network members to be prosecuted because of the color of the skin of the person they were forced to shoot after being attacked. This is a unique problem for our gun culture and one that we really need to resolve.
We here at the Network have considered hosting a Race and Self Defense summit to explore these issues and try to find solutions to the problems that our American society still has about race, guns and self defense. The summit won’t happen next week, but I can see us doing something like this in the not-so-distant future.
See You At NRA?
If you are attending the NRA annual meeting in Nashville, April 10-12, please remember that the Network will have a booth in the exhibit hall, where we will be meeting Network members and signing up new members. Please come visit us in booth #2455 and bring a friend who is not yet a member. Also, authors Massad Ayoob, Grant Cunningham and our very own Gila Hayes, along with Network Affiliated Attorney Andrew Branca will be holding book signings at the booth. So, bring one of your own books for the author to autograph or pick one up at the booth. We are looking forward to meeting many of our members, so please be sure to come up and identify yourself.
Are You a Raven?
“Raven” is a nickname for a Gunsite Academy graduate. I must confess that even after 25 years in the training business, I am not a Raven (but Gila is). For a number of reasons, I have never taken a class at Gunsite, although I did accompany Gila there back in the Stone Age and I attended two National Tactical Invitational events there, too.
I plan to rectify this oversight in my firearms instructor history, by attending the 250 Pistol class Sept. 28 thru Oct. 2, 2015. Why would an established instructor, having taught for 25 years, take a fundamental defensive handgun course? Well, we will find out, as I also plan on writing an article for SWAT Magazine about my experience. In addition, our Network VP Vincent is going to accompany me. My question to you all is, would any of you folks like to take a Gunsite 250 Pistol class with Vincent and me? As of this writing, there are six openings in the class, so if you think this is a dandy idea, don’t wait–give them a call at 925-636-4565, or enroll on line. http://www.gunsite.com/.
I can shoot a gun just fine…
Why do I need more training? To accompany the above announcement, I wanted to spend just a little time discussing training. You see, I just completed a course taught by John Farnam, Network Advisory Board member and world famous trainer, who holds his Defense Training International courses throughout the country. Recently, my own training school, The Firearms Academy of Seattle hosted John and his wife Vicki for a two-day defensive handgun course.
It had been 20 years since I trained with John, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. But what did I take away from the class, other than two good days of shooting? For one thing, I have updated my own training resumé. I try to take at least one class per year from a nationally recognized training entity. That way if I am ever on the witness stand, either as an expert witness or a defendant, I can explain that I continually seek professional training, to keep my skills sharp and my body of knowledge updated, just as lawyers, doctors, and judges do. Remember, you will be judged to the standard of a reasonable and prudent person who “knew what you knew, and saw what you saw.”
Because my two days with John and Vicki Farnam are now documented, anything they told me is discoverable in a court of law to help me prove my innocence. And so, if I need to defend my actions in court, and something we covered in class was fresh in my mind during my decision making process, BINGO. I testify to that, and more importantly, I have John or Vicki come to court and testify as to why they taught me what they did.
If you don’t have any recent training courses on your training resumé, you might want to rectify that. Either Gunsite or Defense Training International http://defense-training.com/dti/ would be good places to start.
For the advanced student or instructor, a unique opportunity is available this summer. In late July, Massad Ayoob and I will be teaching a Use of Deadly Force Instructor course, here at my school halfway between Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. This course only happens once a decade or so, and with the proliferation of concealed weapons permit instructors needing to understand the nuances of self-defense law and how to teach this subject matter, we decided to offer it again this year. If you are interested, there’s a lot more information at http://firearmsacademy.com/guest-instructors/109-udfi. Network members get a $100 discount off the tuition, since Massad is one of our Network Advisory Board members and such a strong supporter of the Network.
Click here to return to April 2015 Journal to read more.