In Jersey, A Flintlock Pistol Can Get You A 10-Year Jail Sentence

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Feb 16, 2015 5:45 PM
In Jersey, A Flintlock Pistol Can Get You A 10-Year Jail Sentence

Where is there any justice in locking up a 72-year-old man for up to 10 years for having an antique flintlock pistol? I’m sure in the Garden State authorities can find frivolous reasons, but there really isn’t any justification for such a prosecutorial overreach.

NRA News’ Ginny Simone ventured into New Jersey to speak with Gordon VanGilder, public enemy No. 1 in Cumberland County. VanGilder is a retired teacher whose career spanned 34 years. He’s an admirer of 18th century artifacts and historical memorabilia and bought the pistol to go with his collection. The pistol featured in Simone’s report is approaching its 300-year anniversary.

Simone reported that Gordon was arrested last November while heading home after lunch. A Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled over Gordon for a traffic violation, but wanted to search his car. Upon discovering a flintlock pistol in the glove compartment, VanGilder said that another deputy wanted to let him go since he knew the firearm was an antique. The Sheriff disagreed. VanGilder was arrested the following morning, and faces up to ten years in prison; three and a half to five years of that sentence must be served before parole can be considered.

To make things more absurd, the prosecutor in the case told VanGilder’s lawyer­–Evan Nappen–who’s in the video; that ballistics test will be run on the firearm.

This case will impact Gordon’s pension as a New Jersey educator, his ability to vote, and his reputation. He will be a convicted felon if the State of New Jersey is successful in their crusade against him.

While Gordon noted that he was probably in violation of the law, he wasn’t if he was going by the federal statute, which exempts such a class of firearms. The conflict between state and federal laws is a constitutional question. Maybe this case will settle that egregious discrepancy.

Yeah, New Jersey is still one of the worst states in the country.