Marine avoids jail term in N.J. gun conviction

On Friday, April 14th New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie commuted the sentence of a former Marine MP convicted on a 2011 gun charge. Thankfully, Sgt. Pompey will not be spending 3 years in a New Jersey prison. Unfortunately, his career is already ruined after 6 years of court battles and lost appeals. Even worse is the fact that this never needed to happen to begin with.

In 2011 Sgt. Hisashi Pompey had a bright future ahead of him. He was a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan and an Active Duty Military Police Office. Then he decided to spend his leave visiting friends.
Pompey did what almost any off duty police officer would do while travelling – he brought an off-duty handgun with him. The firearm was legally owned and registered but in Virginia, not New Jersey. Then he took it one step further by also carrying the firearm concealed when he and his friends visited a northern New Jersey nightclub.

While at the nightclub one of Pompey’s friends got involved in an altercation with other patrons. At some point, his friends also pulled Pompey’s gun from its holster and threatened the other party with it. No shots were fired, no one was hurt but pulling a gun in a crowded nightclub is a sure way to get the police involved.

When the police arrived Pompey’s friend was of course arrested. But so was Pompey on charges of carrying a concealed firearm not registered in New Jersey. You see New Jersey does not recognize out of state concealed carry permits. Plus, at the time of his arrest military law enforcement members were not protected by the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act(LEOSA). Thankfully the LEOSA has since been amended to include additional members of the LE family including military law enforcement officers.

So, back to why this did not need to happen.

Yes, it was a grave oversight that the original LEOSA did not cover ALL law enforcement officers. It is also a kick in the pants that New Jersey does not recognize out of state carry permits. But, that was the law at the time of Pompey’s arrest and ANY police officer should have been aware of the laws when carrying a firearm off duty. Plus, it would have been much smarter to leave the firearm at home when visiting a night club.
All water under the bridge right?

Not necessarily. New Jersey, and several other states, still have laws on the books which could easily jam up an off-duty office. Sure, you are now covered by the LEOSA but have you ever read the fine print? Do you know what is and is not permitted when carrying off duty?
The LEOSA does allow off-duty officers to carry across state lines. But it is not a get out of jail free card. There are still rules you must follow.
1. You may not violate state laws concerning magazine capacity or type of ammunition permitted.
2. Unlike when on duty there are restrictions on carrying in certain government buildings or property.
3. In many states, private property owners (i.e. restaurants, stadiums etc.)can still prevent you from entering their establishment while armed.

Do yourself a favor – read the LEOSA and if you have any questions call the authorities in the state(s) you will be visiting. Better to spend some time researching upfront than doing time afterwards.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

2 thoughts on “Marine avoids jail term in N.J. gun conviction

  1. Whilst I have great empathy for my brother in arms, I don’t have much sympathy. All LEOs know that ignorence of the law is no defence. Sgt. Pompey should have checked the relevant law in N.J. before even thinking of packing for the trip. The NYC tri-state area is very well known to be harsh on people with in-state CCPs traveling to the area. Even in-state CCPs are not permitted in the conurbation areas. He should have checked with his employer to see if LEOSA was valid for MPs (at the time it was not. Only qualified active and retired federal and state, local LEOs were covered. He would have needed a valid LEOSA ID from his current employer, which he would have been turned down for (big red flag right there)! And if retired a ten year good discharge period, a LEOSA retired federal officer ID and a certificate proving a yearly six hour yearly refresher course to be valid. When I left the Marines, I joined up with a local sheriff’s department and served 15 years good behaviour discharge. I have my retired sheriff’s deputy ID card, a 5 year valid LEOSA ID card and a current LEOSA instructor qualified yearly CPD course card as well as my retired USMC ID showing good discharge. I also carry a belt shield that identifies me as relying on LEOSA. It is a federal looking, enameled shield that shows me to be a qualified retired police officer and the relevant laws. I carry a 10mm Glock 17C and one extra mag and a set of hinged handcuffs. I have carried in downtown NYC and been stopped by police once while walking into a Denny’s. All went well and was over in a few minutes. This marine should not have been carrying in a nightclub, which is a bar. Only on-duty LEO can carry in a place that earns 50% or more of Thier gross receipts from alcohol. Even a local CCP would have been arrested in such a place. The upshot of this is research, research, and more research!!!

    Too bad for this otherwise fine marine but he broke a very serious law. I’m glad he got a pardon, but he should have known better. It’s what responsible gun carry is all about.

    Semper fi!!

  2. Good article Tom. A few takaways for people to remember.

    Rules for concealed carry:

    Know the laws regarding when/where/how you can carry. Particularly any reciprocity laws for out of state carry.

    Don’t carry into areas that are off limits (especially those serving alcohol).

    Don’t tell other people you are with that you are carrying. No really DON’T TELL THEM. Reveal this fact only when required by law and to those people the law requires you to divulge it to.

    DO NOT allow someone to disarm you and brandish your weapon in public! (Remember the part about not telling anyone you have a gun on you?)

    As a Marine, and a LEO he should have had those rules down pat. This was a series of bad decisions from the get go. I am glad things finally got sorted out, but he could have saved himself a lot of time, money and grief, not to mention his career by doing his due diligence up front.

    I always give fellow LEOs the benefit of professional courtesy when I find them carrying in my jurisdiction provided they are not doing anything illegal and they have proper credentials. It helps knowing who my fellow sheepdogs are and it goes a long way towards building up relationships between agencies. But we do have to have be aware of what it is we are being trusted with by the public. We have to be smart, and know the laws inside and out. This profession has enough people second guessing our every move, act and motivation without feeding the fire by being dumb and/or lazy. Remember we all represent an honorable profession, and anything that tarnishes the badge for one of us, tarnishes it for us all.

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