Retired New Jersey teacher Gordon Van Gilder is out of trouble with Cumberland County prosecutors, but his time in the spotlight may just be warming up, now that felony charges against him for possessing an unloaded, antique flintlock pistol during a traffic stop have been dropped.
According to the Daily Journal, Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae decided to exercise “prosecutorial discretion to dismiss.” But she added a caveat that “the public should be forewarned about the prescriptions against possessing a firearm – even an antique – in a vehicle.”
Second Amendment activists might call that a cheap shot by the prosecutor, since the Garden State is known for prosecuting gun owners under what many consider Draconian statutes. Earlier this week, the Second Amendment Foundation announced that it is financially supporting a lawsuit filed by an Andover man who is fighting to get a concealed carry permit. New Jersey authorities rarely grant such permits.
Update: Van Gilder’s attorney, gun law specialist Evan Nappen, has released this statement to Examiner: “My retired, 72-year-old client, who suffers from severe arthritis, a heart condition, and is a cancer survivor, was charged with a gun possession felony in which he faced up to 10 years in State prison with 3.5 to 5 years minimum mandatory no chance of parole. At his age, facing a felony charge was not on his bucket list. He is very pleased and relieved to have the charge dismissed.
“I would commend the Prosecutor,” Nappen added, “for exercising her discretion in this matter and dismissing the charge. There are now legislators in New Jersey who have filed bills to fix this problem and remove ‘antique handgun’ from being treated the same as a modern handgun. This is necessary, however, in the big picture all New Jersey gun laws need to be reformed because they systematically turn law abiding citizens into criminals.”
At the same time Van Gilder was being let off the hook, a lawyer representing St. Louis, Missouri Police Chief Sam Dotson was arguing before that state’s Supreme Court that Amendment 5, passed last year by Show Me State voters should be set aside. That amendment strengthens the rights of Missouri gun owners, but it also allegedly opens a Pandora’s Box that allows convicted felons to fight prosecution for possessing firearms.
Attorney Chuck Hatfield, who also represents Rebecca Morgan with the state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, argued to the court that the ballot summary for the amendment was “misleading.” He also contended that the summary did not accurately explain the amendment.
BULLETIN: The Kansas City Star is reporting that Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich died today in St. Louis from what may have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was re-elected last November and was planning to run for governor. Further details will be reported when available.
Missouri Amendment 5 was passed by 60.95 percent of the voters. Interestingly, Dotson’s challenge is not being panned by gun prohibitionists as an attempt to overturn the “will of the people,” as is a federal court challenge in Washington against Initiative 594, an 18-page gun control measure passed in November by just over 59 percent.
Opponents of the Missouri amendment have argued that convicted felons can use it as a defense against criminal charges of firearm possession by a felon. St. Louis Public Radio looked at that issue in a report last week.
Ballotpedia has a lengthy post of the amendment, which it says, “established the unalienable right of citizens to keep and bear arms, ammunition and accessories associated with the normal functioning of such arms, for the purpose of defense of one’s person, family, home and property.
“Additionally,” Ballotpedia added, “it removed the exception to the former constitutional right to bear arms that explicitly stated it could not be used to justify the wearing of concealed weapons. The amendment allowed the state to limit the possession of arms by convicted felons and those adjudged as mentally ill. Previously, citizens had the right to bear arms in defense of home, person and property, but the right was not considered ‘unalienable’.”
URGENT: Hornady today issued an appeal to shooters to contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) over its proposal to ban popular M855 ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.”
“The decision continues Obama’s use of his executive authority to impose gun control restrictions and bypass Congress,” the Hornady alert states. The company provided a sample letter for people to use in opposing the proposed ban. Hornady also provided the following contact information:
Fax: (202) 648-9741.
Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments.
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