BELLEVUE, WA – The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today is reminding New Jersey that it is “still part of the United States, not a police state,” over the case of retired teacher Gordon Van Gilder who faces ten years in prison for possession of an unloaded, antique flintlock pistol during a traffic stop.
Published reports say Van Gilder was stopped in November, and advised the officer that he had the nearly-250-year-old pistol in his glove box. The next morning, he was arrested at his house by several police officers.
“This case underscores the vicious nature of gun law enforcement in New Jersey,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “Why anyone would still call this the Garden State is a mystery. It’s more of a weed patch of Draconian laws designed to criminalize gun ownership and frighten law-abiding citizens from exercising their constitutional rights.”
Van Gilder’s attorney is Evan Nappen, the same gun law expert who also represented Philadelphia nurse Shaneen Allen last year after she was arrested for unlawful possession of a handgun she legally owned in Pennsylvania, and was licensed to carry.
The retired teacher is a collector of historic artifacts from the 1700s, and the pistol is part of that endeavor. While it is a relic, for purposes of prosecution, it’s being considered the same as a modern firearm, Gottlieb said.
“New Jersey was the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights,” he noted, “and apparently the last state to recognize it.
“What is so appalling about this case,” Gottlieb added, “is that anybody else would look at Van Gilder’s pistol as a valuable piece of American history. I guess only in a New Jersey prosecutor’s office is such an heirloom considered a dangerous crime implement. For a man of Gordon Van Gilder’s stature and experience as an educator to face what could amount to a life sentence in prison for having such a pistol in his car is not merely unthinkable, it broaches the irrational.”