There’s this perception that time goes faster as you get older. Today, June 3, 2023, is the 8th anniversary of Carol Bowne’s passing. I remember reading about her tragic death with a lump in my throat and can’t believe it’s been 8 years already.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Carol Bowne, she was a 39-year-old widowed hairdresser from Berlin, New Jersey. Those who knew Carol described her as caring, friendly, compassionate, and kind. After losing her husband in 2012, Carol started dating Michael Eitel, a 45-year-old convicted felon. Eitel had previously received a 5-year prison sentence for a domestic violence incident involving an ex-girlfriend, for which he was charged with aggravated assault, carjacking and a weapons offense.
Their relationship turned bad at some point with increasingly abusive behavior such as, “hitting her, smashing her face into her truck’s dashboard, breaking her nose, spitting in her face, strangling her and much more.” These patterns of escalating abuse are common. Firearms instructor and domestic abuse survivor Shirley Watral chronicled them extensively in her book, “Heels to Holster: One woman’s story of surviving an abusive relationship and discovering her inner warrior.”
In response to the abuse, Carol Bowne sought and received a restraining order, which only angered Eitel even more. His abuse worsened to stalking and cyberbullying and he even damaged her truck and house. Eitel violated the restraining order several times. Carol sought police protection repeatedly and was denied(on a related note, see: Warren v. District of Columbia).
To protect herself, Carol had security cameras and an alarm system installed at her residence. On April 21, 2015, she applied for a New Jersey civil rights unicorn – a gun permit. By state law in 2015, gun permit decisions were supposed to be made within 30 days. But the law is seemingly applicable only to us proles, not to government apparatchiks. Carol patiently waited and kept checking on the status of her permit application as late as June 1, 2015.
After 42 days of waiting on a simple yes/no government decision, on June 3, 2015, Carol was ambushed and stabbed to death by Michael Eitel in her own driveway. Her security system sadly recorded her final moments.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made some changes to New Jersey’s permitting process to prioritize domestic violence victims in a bid to bolster his ultimately failed 2016 presidential campaign. We don’t know if there were any audits to check if the 30-day deadline was being followed statewide, especially for domestic violence victims.
What we do know, however, is that New Jersey’s temper tantrum Bruen response law under current Governor Phil Murphy extended the timeline for a carry permit from 60 days to 90 days, according to NJ Attorney Evan Nappen’s website. (The permit to purchase, which Carol Bowne applied for, still has a timeline of 30 days.) There appears to be an automatic approval at the end of the 90-day window, absent an explicit denial or additional 30-day extension:
What occurs once the application for a New Jersey Permit to Carry a Handgun is deemed complete?
A: Once the application is deemed complete by the issuing authority , if it is not approved or denied by issuing authority within 90 days of filing, it shall be deemed to have been approved ; provided, however, the issuing authority may, for good cause shown and upon written notification to the applicant, extend by up to an additional 30 days the time period for which the application may be approved or denied. The written notification sent to the applicant shall provide a detailed explanation of the reasons for the extension. An applicant also may agree in writing to an additional extension of time past the 120-day statutory time frame.
An issuing authority may delegate to subordinate officers or employees of the law enforcement agency the responsibilities established under the law.
The law is still overbearing. It requires a record of each handgun the applicant intends to carry, “endorsements,” insurance, and fingerprinting, and a host of restricted “gun-free zones” which crooks and creeps will obviously not obey.
New Jersey is dragging its feet while tens of thousands of domestic abusers in New Jersey are still around terrorizing their victims.
Guns are the great equalizer. A gun could have saved the life of Carol Bowne, who was less than 5 feet tall and weighed about 100 pounds, from Eitel, a 6-foot-3 and 285 pound convicted felon and prohibited person.
You won’t hear a word from the gun control activists about Carol Bowne’s case on “Gun Violence Awareness Day” because the victim was murdered using a knife, and her attacker killed himself using a rope afterwards. Knife violence and rope violence are just as important, but not important enough when your hidden agenda is stripping the citizenry of their guns.
If you’re feeling anger reading this story, channel that anger into pro-Second Amendment activism. Take a newbie to the range. Keep track of proposed legislation at the local, state, and federal levels. Call your elected representatives. Vote.
Change is slow but persistence works. Entire landscapes have been shaped by slow-moving glaciers over hundreds of thousands of years. Be patient, firm, and never give up.
UPDATE: This article has been edited to clarify the type of permit that Carol Bowne applied for and correct the timeline change after New Jersey’s “carry killer” law.