TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A prosecutor in New Jersey has dropped a felony gun charge against a Pennsylvania corrections officer, noting that officers only learned that the guard had a gun in his car because he was the victim of a drunken driving crash.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said Monday that the charge against Raymond Hughes of carrying a weapon without a state permit was inappropriate.
Hughes had a Pennsylvania carry permit, but it wasn't recognized by New Jersey's strict gun laws. He faced a minimum of 3 ½ years in prison if he was found guilty.
Police in Glassboro filed the charges last month. Dalton said the prosecutor's office had been reviewing the case but decided to dismiss the charges instead of allowing the case to move forward.
"In this particular case, Mr. Hughes was the victim of a crime prior to any violation of New Jersey gun law," Dalton said.
Hughes said he and his wife were on their way home from a concert and dinner in Atlantic City last month when a drunken driver hit their vehicle. He told police he had a handgun under his seat, and officers secured his personal 9mm Glock handgun while he went to the hospital, he said. He was charged days later.
Hughes, 46, was the latest to be charged with carrying a legally owned gun into New Jersey, which doesn't recognize carry permits from other states. Last year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pardoned at least six people who faced similar charges.
"I am very happy and very thankful to the prosecutor's office," Hughes told The Associated Press on Monday.
His attorney, Evan Nappen, said the dropped charges are yet more evidence of the need to reform gun laws on the state and federal levels. He called New Jersey's laws "inflexible and draconian."
But Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God's Call, a faith-based group working to prevent gun violence, said he doubts most New Jersey residents agree.
He added: "People should learn from this example to not bring their guns into New Jersey."
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