Flintlock from 1700s could land elderly NJ man in prison


Fox News:

Flintlock from 1700s could land elderly NJ man in prison

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 FoxNews.com on Wednesday.In a case that underscores the Garden State’s strict gun laws, Gordon Van Gilder, a retired English teacher and collector of historical items, has been charged with criminal possession of a handgun and faces up to 10 years in prison. If the 72-year-old is convicted, the charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3.5 years and the pension Van Gilder earned as an educator could be revoked, penalties attorney Evan Nappen called “outrageous.”

“It’s crazy," Nappen told FoxNews.com. "The gun was unloaded and strictly possessed as a historical relic. We’re hoping the prosecutor will exercise discretion and dismiss his case.”
“Apparently there must be a lot of drive-by flintlock shootings in North Jersey.”
- Gordon Van Gilder
Van Gilder readily acknowledged the unloaded gun was in his glove compartment and wrapped in cloth when he was pulled over for a traffic violation in Cumberland County in November 2014, according to Nappen. He had recently bought the gun and was planning to add it to his collection of antiques, which includes other old firearms, the lawyer said.

“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.



New Jersey over the last 30 years became tough with owning guns. It is very advisable to learn as much as possible before doing anything with guns. He should have done some research first.



If it was wrapped in cloth in the glove box how did the police discover it? Did he allow them to search his vehicle? Did he volunteer information because he thought that he had nothing to hide? The law is of course terrible, but I’m more interested in how he got himself into the situation where the police were able to know he was violating the law.


Common sense is also important. I hope the prosecutor realizes this is harmless.


This is crazy.

The weapon is as likely to blow the shooter’s hands off as to kill anybody.

Meanwhile, the law does nothing to address the real issue of firearm violence.



Id like to hear more about the cop who determined this was criminal…I think he may be a problem.


Get with Chris Christie!


Some places obligate citizens to immediately disclose to an officer if a gun is within the vehicle during a traffic stop. There are some places in which this law has been revoked, but the officers don’t always seem to remember it. So to save themselves some trouble people may still continue to disclose such information during a traffic stop. Failure to disclose this information where required can result in charges of it’s own.


He told them it was there. They were pulled over because it was a high crime area. This story is a year old. nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2015/02/former_teacher_charged_with_possession_of_antique.html


Untrue. They are as safe as modern guns, if handled properly.:wink:

Agree with the rest:thumbsup:


You would really trust a weapon that 250+ years old? Would you fire it?


As already noted, this is a year old story. Charges were dropped.


Sure would (after examining it closely, of course). I have fired a 100+ year old shotgun. :slight_smile:


They’d have a cow if they saw my 1750s blunderbuss.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.