This is a story about bad relationships. And it includes a woman trying to protect herself, and a story about a system that wouldn’t allow her to do so – in any reasonable length of the time.
When 39-year-old Carol Bowne was threatened by an ex-boyfriend, she took the steps to try and protect herself as best she could. She received a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, installed a surveillance system in her home, and began the lengthy process of obtaining her concealed carry permit.
“She did absolutely everything she was supposed to,” said Denise Lovallo, a fellow hairdresser at O’Hara and Co. in Somerdale.
None of it was enough, and her permit to legally carry a firearm was still pending. Bowne was stabbed to death in her own driveway Wednesday night by the very man that the courts couldn’t protect her from.
The ex-boyfriend, 45-year-old Michael Eitel, has been charged with her murder. Eitel, a convicted felon, is still on the run.
Just a month ago, Bowne was granted a restraining order against Eitel.
The True Price Paid For A Lengthy Permit Process
An innocent life lost, failed by a system that truly doesn’t have the power to save or help anyone in a situation like this.
Berlin Township Police Chief Leonard Check said that Bowne applied for a gun license on April 21, and that she had inquired Monday about her request.
The application process in New Jersey typically takes two months or more as police collect information on the applicant, including fingerprints and reference checks. “We did not get the fingerprint information yet,” said Check.
The system wasn’t fast enough to ensure that Bowne could have access to the tools necessary to properly defend herself. This was occurring parallel to an ex-convict who doesn’t have time for laws, and has already demonstrated his violent tendencies in the past.
Court records show Eitel pleaded guilty to a weapons offense in 2008 after being indicted in 2006 on a charge of aggravated assault with bodily injury. He received a five-year sentence for that offense, which neighbors said was related to an assault on a former girlfriend.
Many states have a similar history of lengthy delays for honest citizens to have their permit applications processed. In our state of New York, for example, the process can sometimes take over a year. I know mine wasn’t quick.
New Jersey, however, doesn’t accept ANY other state’s authority to issue a concealed carry permit – not neighboring New York, Pennsylvania, or even Delaware. So, residents of that state have one road to get a concealed carry permit to protect themselves and their family – the New Jersey Title 13, Chapter 54 process.
13:54-2.1 Permit to carry a handgun
It doesn’t end there. Two lines down begins the illustrious, “13:54-2.3 Criteria for the issuance of a permit to carry a handgun”. Because, apparently, the Second Amendment stops at the New Jersey state line.
More frustrating is this piece at the bottom.
… “Has demonstrated a justifiable need to carry a handgun.”
What justification is needed other than protecting your own life?
New Jersey Residents Flock to Non-Resident CCW
New Jersey residents are fed up with the lengthy, bureaucratic process, the questioning, and the fees associated with their own “may permit” process. And some gun clubs have begun to capitalize off this by offering non-resident certification processes for other states’ concealed carry weapon permit.
As Stephen J. McGeady called out in his letter to the editor, explaining precisely why he resigned from his New Jersey sportsman club:
“The reason for my resignation is the decision of the club to host a class that would entitle those attending to receive a permit to carry a concealed firearm issued by the state of Utah.”
For those wishing to be fully legal in their own state, though, this doesn’t even begin to help. If anything it forces would-be law-abiding citizens into that hazy gray area of CCW reciprocity.
To cut to the chase, though, New Jersey doesn’t acknowledge any other state’s concealed carry permit. This wouldn’t have helped Carol Bowne. And more importantly, it doesn’t appear to be serving hardly any of the residents of New Jersey.
Carol Bowne is just the latest tragic example of a state married to a bureaucratic nightmare – with real people having their rights and their lives jeopardized.