Carol Bowne knew her best shot at defending herself from a violent ex was a gun, and not a piece of paper. And it was paperwork that left her unprotected when Michael Eitel showed up at her New Jersey home last week and stabbed her to death, say Second Amendment advocates, who charge local police routinely sit on firearms applications they are supposed to rule on within 30 days.
Bowne, 39, had a restraining order against Eitel when he killed her in her driveway last Wednesday, but she was still waiting for Berlin Township Police Chief Leonard Check to approve the gun permit she had applied for on April 21. Tragically, she had gone to the township police department just two days before her death to check on the status of her languishing application. In another indication of her fear of Eitel, Bowne had recently installed surveillance cameras around her home, and the equipment recorded the 45-year-old ex-con attacking her as she arrived home and got out of her car.
"She should have been granted that permit in a timely matter, especially given her status as a domestic violence victim," said Evan Nappen, a New Jersey-based attorney who specializes in Second Amendment cases.
New Jersey's gun laws are among the nation's strictest, but law-abiding citizens are eligible to purchase and possess handguns after filling out forms available at their local police stations, submitting to a background check on any possible criminal history or mental health issues, giving fingerprints and paying a fee. Once those steps are taken, local police conduct a 14-point investigation and the chief is supposed to approve or deny for cause within 30 days.