A desperate father has been banned from seeing his young son for four years after he was found with an unloaded gun he legally owned in the back of his car among his possessions as he moved house.
Brian Aitken was arrested in 2009 as he was moving back from Colorado to New Jersey to be near his child after a divorce. He was later convicted of possessing a gun and sentenced to seven years' prison.
Now the New York University graduate and digital media entrepreneur is using a crowdfunding website to raise funds so he can write a book about his ordeal and hopefully be reunited with his little boy.
The saga began when Aitken's mother called 911 after he arrived with his possessions piled high at her house in New Jersey, but she didn't complete the call. The police arrived regardless and after questioning her she explained that she was concerned for Aitken's welfare following his divorce.
The officers then called Aitken, who by that stage had left, and coerced him to return. When he arrived, the officers searched his car and found three locked, unloaded handguns in the trunk. He was then arrested.
In his trial, Aitken explained he was in the process of moving from Colorado to New Jersey, which is an accepted exemption under the state's law. He even called the New Jersey State Police before he set off and asked them how to transport his firearms.
'I did exactly what they told me to do,' he said.
The jury asked if they could take the exemption into account but the judge refused. The father was convicted and sentenced to seven years prison.
Because of a change in the law a year prior that upped possession of a firearm from a Fourth Degree Felony to a Second Degree Felony, he was also deemed unfit to see his son.
'After I was indicted of a victimless and violentless charge, with no prior criminal record, a family judge interpreted the charge to mean that I was a violent criminal with access to firearms and that fathers who own guns pose a threat to their children,' he told Ammoland.
Although Governor Chris Christie commuted Aitken's sentence after he had spent four months, and his 27th birthday, in prison, his saga continues.
He is still labeled a felon and therefore cannot own a gun, cannot vote, and cannot travel overseas because his passport was revoked.
More importantly, he is still unable to see his son, who is now five years old, because he cannot meet the harsh restrictions the judge placed on him.
Aitken's attorney described the case as a 'perfect storm of injustice,' to Crowdfund Insider
He now travels around the U.S. raising awareness about what happened to him and the huge ramifications it has had on his life. His story has also been covered in print, online and TV media.
In his latest push, he is raising funds on crowdfunding website Indiegogo to write a book about his experience and to be able to take his case to the Supreme Court.
With a week left in the campaign he has surpassed his initial $20,000 goal but is hoping to double that.
On his campaign page he writes: 'Until my case is resolved I can't vote or pass a background check. It's next to impossible to get a credit card or even sign a lease for an apartment. I can't leave the country and I can't see my son. Clearing my name is the first step towards getting my life back... and I can't do it without your help.'