Sunday, February 22, 2015

More Flintlock Persecution in New Jersey

from ssgmarkcr

This has finally surfaced in the big media outlets.  I have this vision of Christie doing a face-palm as he reads the morning paper and sees his state making a bigger reputation for itself. 

"A retired teacher is facing 10 years in prison and the loss of his state pension for possessing a flintlock pistol that may not have been fired since George Washington was alive, his attorney told on Wednesday."

“This is a Queen Anne flintlock, which is a very pretty gun," Nappen said. "The barrel looks like a cannon and it has a single shot – you have to actually untwist the barrel to load it – it’s pretty involved to even attempt to load it. But the craftsmanship is from the 1760s, and it’s just magnificent to think that every piece of it was handmade.”
But New Jersey law does not exempt antique firearms, said Nappen, who recently defended a Pennsylvania single mother who was pulled over just across the New Jersey border with a registered gun she carried for protection. In that case, Nappen helped his client avoid a 3-year mandatory minimum sentence only after widespread publicity including extensive coverage by Fox News led the state Attorney General's Office to drop the case."

“One of the undersheriffs said, ‘Well, let him go, it’s 250 years old,’" Van Gilder said. "But his boss, who is the sheriff, said, ‘No, we have to arrest him.’ Next morning, I am sleeping and hear pounding on the door, and four of them came and took me away with three or four sheriff’s cars -- I guess they didn’t have anything better to do with taxpayer money.”
“I was fingerprinted and I was chained by my legs to an ice cold bench. Apparently there must be a lot of drive-by flintlock shootings in North Jersey,” he quipped bitterly."

    So apparently, the officer on the scene applied some common sense and said take it home, and then they came for him the next day.  Looks like the Nappen law firm doesn't have to worry about having any lack of clients in the near future. 


  1. There are all sorts of ridiculous laws still on the books. That doesn't give a pass for breaking those laws. Ask the couple (heterosexual) in AK who got arrested for kissing in public. It's a legislators job to not only pass law, but review and eliminate outdated law. Common sense would tell a prosecutor to not prosecute, but you guys tell Mike he's wrong to use common sense with regard to gun laws.

  2. We've discussed many times here examples where the excercise of discretion is just fine when say, the Department of Justice is doing it when enforcing immigration laws on the books. Or how about marijuana law enforcement while it seems just fine with allowing two states to legalize it? Yet everyone then gets the vapors when a Sheriff comes out and says that he doesn't believe a law is Constitutional and enforcement won't be high on his priority list.
    All are examples of discretion in enforcement of laws as a way around waiting for the law to be changed. Why are some of these examples deemed to be ok, and not the others?
    I honestly don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a single state besides Jersey that even considers such items a firearm. Anyone out there know of any?
    Everyone has there own definition of common sense. And as evidenced by the expansion in individual freedoms, to include gun rights nationwide, common sense is prevailing generally. Unfortunately, some states aren't as progressive on this issue as others. All we can do is hold these examples up for all to see in hopes that common sense can take root there and changes can be made.

    1. "Yet everyone then gets the vapors when a Sheriff comes out and says that he doesn't believe a law is Constitutional and enforcement won't be high on his priority list."
      It's not a sheriff's (cops) call to decide which laws are constitutional, or not. He's supposed to uphold the law and arrest those who break the law. It's a judges job to decide constitutionality.
      A cop has to make judgment calls all the time, in favor of enforcing the law. It would be scary indeed if cops become street judges. It defeats the check and balance system of justice.
      In the case of the AK couple, the judge thew the case out and later that year the legislative body removed the "no kissing in public" law. That's the way it should work.

    2. Yo, "Peter"--how 'bout making up whatever it is you use for a mind. This:

      It's not a sheriff's (cops) call to decide which laws are constitutional, or not.

      Directly contradicts the very next paragraph:

      A cop has to make judgment calls all the time . . .

      That they do--letting speeders off with a warning, taking a teenager's joint away, instead of booking him for it, etc. Some cops still think of themselves as "peace officers," rather than jail-stuffers.

    3. Kurt, a judgement call in the field by a cop is not a constitutional decision. An order by the sheriff to his staff that a law is unconstitutional, is a different issue. I'm sure the distinction confuses you. Glad I could clear that up for you.

  3. Where are all the anti-gunners who tell us that the second amendment only applies to flintlocks? Why are they not rushing to this guy's defense?

    1. Actually, I never understood the distinction between modern guns and antique guns as far as the laws go. Black powder weapons can do the same kind of harm as a semi-auto and they should be treated the same. If NJ bans them, then that's the law and people need to adhere to it or be prepared to pay for their crimes.

    2. Mike: “Black powder weapons can do the same kind of harm as a semi-auto and they should be treated the same.”

      Are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me that you would change you tune so quickly after saying this not even two months ago:

      Mike (12/29/2014): “Well, let's look at it this way. The difference between communicating by writing with a quill pen and using e-mail is a lot smaller than the difference between bearing a flintlock and bearing an AK. Don't you agree?”

      Don’t you remember our big drawn out argument where you claimed the difference in technology between a flintlock and a semi-auto dwarfs the difference between quill and parchment vs. email?

      MikeB: “We're comparing AKs to flintlocks. The difference is huge. Whereas, the difference between communicating with words hand-written on a parchment using a quill pen and those printed on a computer screen is not all that great.”

    3. TS,

      Thank you for digging up one of the multitude of examples. Frankly, I was too exasperated to bother.

    4. Well done, TS. I was thinking the same thing (but apparently thinking it less politely).

    5. Yeah, that was a softball. Actually more like T-ball.

    6. TS, Of course I remember the big drawn out argument about AKs vs. flintlocks compared to quill pens and e-mail. You're really stretching things to try making this into a gotcha, and of course Kurt is right there with you.

      In this post I'm talking about gun control laws applying to antique guns, black-powder guns and modern semi-autos. In the other post we were talking about the incredible evolution that's taken place in firearms over 225 years and the increase in killing power compared to communications. There's no contradiction in any of it.

    7. MikeB: "There's no contradiction in any of it."

      Well... except when you said this:

      MikeB: "Black powder weapons can do the same kind of harm as a semi-auto and they should be treated the same."

    8. That doesn't contradict anything. I'm getting tired of the false gotcha comments.


  4. Here is an interesting item I came upon regarding this case that does put it in a different light in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how this will affect the case.

    MILLVILLE — The car stop that led to a 72-year-old former teacher to being charged with possession of a 300-year-old pistol was conducted because his vehicle was allegedly “acting suspiciously in a known drug area,” according to Cumberland County Sheriff Robert Austino.

    The sheriff said Gordon Van Gilder was a passenger in his vehicle, which was pulled over on Nov. 19, on 2nd Street. Van Gilder allegedly admitted that the reason they were in the area was to purchase drugs, according to Austino.

    “This is not just a case of the police picking on an elderly gun collector,” he said.

    When stopped, Austino said Van Gilder immediately told officers about the antique flintlock pistol in the glove compartment. The firearm was not loaded and was in what Austino called an envelope when Van Gilder turned it over to the officers.

    A search allegedly found used heroin bags in the vehicle, according to the sheriff. The driver of the vehicle — identified as Adam Puttergill, 21, of Maurice River Township — was allegedly found in possession of drugs and was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, according to Austino.

    However, Van Gilder was not charged with any drug offenses, just unlawful possession of a weapon, the sheriff said. The case is still in the complaint stage and no court dates are scheduled, according to the Cumberland County Criminal Case Management Office.

    The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment of the ongoing case.

  5. Here's an update. I wonder if the term "in the interest of justice" translates to "PR nightmare".

    "A retired teacher in Cumberland County, New Jersey, who was facing a minimum of 10 years in prison for a felony gun charge over a 300-year-old flintlock pistol has had the charges against him dropped, the county prosecutor announced Wednesday."

    "Nonetheless, after reviewing Van Gilder’s case, Webb-McCrae used her power of prosecutorial discretion to drop the charges against Van Gilder “in the interest of justice.” Nappen said he and his client are pleased with Webb-McCrae’s decision, commended her actions, and said he believes she used her position in a wise manner. “We’re glad that the mater has been resolved,” Nappen added, and also said he hopes the incident will highlight the need for antique firearms to be clearly excluded from the state law."

  6. Great news--reason is not completely dead, even in New Jersey, apparently:

    Cumberland County prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae announced that she will use prosecutorial discretion to decline to prosecute Gordon Van Gilder. She offered no further comment on the matter.

    I imagine his gun is gone forever, so this is still a heinous atrocity, but the situation has improved dramatically.

    1. Gone forever? No. Probably sitting on a shelf in the Chief's basement, or the basement of some other collector in the department.

    2. Kurt's got quite an imagination. There is nothing in the story to indicate that. In fact, what I read is the law doesn't even consider that antique gun a firearm, so why would anyone think it would be confiscated is beyond me.

    3. Kurt's got quite an imagination.

      Thanks, I guess, but no such imagination is needed to spot the probability that Mr. Van Gilder will never get his gun back.

      In fact, what I read is the law doesn't even consider that antique gun a firearm . . .

      U.S. federal law does not, but in New Jersey, it's an "antique firearm:

      "Antique firearm" means any firearm, which is incapable of being fired or discharged, or which does not fire fixed ammunition regardless of the date of manufacture, or was manufactured before 1898,for which cartridge ammunition is not commercially available, and is possessed as a curiosity or ornament or for its historical significance or value.

      Besides, if it were not a firearm, why would it require a prosecutor capable of seeing reason (something one doesn't want to have to count on, particularly in New Jersey), to drop the felony firearms possession charge?

    4. Mike,

      They declined to press charges--they didn't declare him innocent. Do they return drugs to someone they decline to prosecute? Kurt and I were operating under the assumption that the police would probably treat it like any other contraband which, in my experience, means that anything illegal to own gets destroyed and other things either get used by members of the department or sold at auction (depending on how corrupt the department is).

      Add to that the tales of people's travails when trying to get guns back from the police when the police have NO justification for keeping them and Kurt's speculation suddenly becomes quite understandable.