New Jersey arrest demonstrates problem with myopic focus on "gun violence"

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

I know I’m not alone among gun owners in my exasperation over the media and anti-gun politicians use of the phrase “gun violence”. The problem is really violence, not which inanimate object is used by a human being to aid them in the commission of a violent crime, but by focusing only on “gun violence” it becomes far too easy for the Left to say that the answer must involve some sort of gun control.

A recent case out of New Jersey, however, provides us with proof of just how dangerous that line of thinking really is. 20-year old Jersey City resident Levan Collier is currently on court-ordered home confinement after police say he was involved in a shooting last month, but arguably he never should have been on the street to allegedly commit that crime in the first place. Collier has also been accused of a coupe of brutal assaults on public transportation in New Jersey, but apparently because they didn’t involve a firearm the court system saw no reason to keep him detained.

In October, Collier was with four others on a PATH train headed to New York when he viciously beat a man and a woman. The criminal complaint Collier, who was arrested in November after an investigation by Port Authority police, Jersey City police and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

The woman victim told police she was punched in the face at least 10 times and she suffered a concussion, swelling to the front and back of her head and pain to her eyes and jaw. The other victim told police he was punched 20 times and he also suffered a concussion, swelling to the front and back of his head and pain and bruising to both eyes.

It could not immediately be determined if Collier was subjected to a detention hearing after he was arrested in November.

If Collier had shot the pair, or even shot at them, my guess is that he would have been held on bond or at least been released with some type of monitoring. As it turns out, that didn’t happen until a couple of months ago, when Collier was caught with a gun.

Collier was arrested again in early March when Jersey City police conducted a motor vehicle stop and recovered a handgun after the 20-year-old attempted to flee, according to a criminal complaint.

At a detention hearing for this incident, Collier was released on Level 3-plus monitoring — home detention with an exception for employment, along with phone and face-to-face contact with authorities every other week, and possibly an electronic monitoring bracelet.

That court-ordered confinement didn’t work so well either, to be honest. Collier was supposed to be monitored by GPS, but according to authorities he left his home and was involved in a shooting in Jersey City in early April. Only at his most recent detention hearing was Collier told he must remain behind bars until his trial.

New Jersey politicians are well aware of the current failings of the criminal justice system, though for some reason many of them appear to be more concerned about the quick release of suspected car thieves than suspects in violent assaults like the one allegedly committed by Collier on the PATH train to New York City. And then there’s New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who is far too busy trying to further criminalize the right to keep and bear arms to worry about violent offenders who might not use a gun to nearly kill someone. Why concern himself with someone like Collier when the governor is trying to impose training mandates on all legal gun owners, ban .50 caliber rifles, raising the age to lawfully purchase a firearm, and requiring new residents of the state to register their guns with the police in the name of reducing “gun violence”?

“Half of New Jersey’s gun homicides occur in only five cities, and the number of gun crimes in these cities has skyrocketed over the last year,” said Governor Murphy. “We cannot sit back when we know there is more to do to address the danger of gun violence in our communities. By taking the steps we are announcing today, we will further commit to making every block and every street in our state safer.”

If you believe that, I’ve got a boardwalk in Atlantic City to sell you. Murphy knows that only a small fraction of the state’s population is responsible for a majority of its violent crime, and most of those individuals aren’t legal gun owners to begin with. Rather than taking steps to ensure that law enforcement is laser-focused on the most violent and prolific offenders, the governor is trying to use “gun violence” as an excuse to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, which means we’re likely to see a lot of cases like Collier’s in the future; individuals that do pose a danger to the community but are returned to the streets simply because they used a knife or their fists as a weapon and not a gun.