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10 Years In Prison For Owning This 250-Year-Old Flintlock Gun?

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antique pistolA retired school teacher is facing as much as a 10-year prison sentence because he had an unloaded 250-year-old antique pistol in his car.

Four sheriff deputies took 72-year-old Gordon Van Gilder from his home in handcuffs because of the incident, even though Van Gilder voluntarily told the police he had the pistol.

“Beware of New Jersey, don’t come here, don’t live here,” Van Gilder told NRA News.

Van Gilder was arrested and charged with a felony because he was carrying a pistol without a permit. New Jersey’s gun control laws have no exemptions for antique weapons. Van Gilder bought the pistol to add to his collection of 18th century objects.

“I’m charged with a felony that could ruin my life,” Van Gilder said. “That could hurt my pension that I spent 34 years acquiring. I couldn’t vote now.”

His attorney was just as appalled.

“He’s facing up to 10 years in state prison with a minimum of mandatory three and a half to five years, no chance of parole, because New Jersey’s modern handgun law includes antique handguns,” Van Gilder’s attorney, Evan F. Nappen, told NRA News.

Nappen noted that antique firearms are exempt from federal gun control laws.

Arrested for Owning a Collector’s Item

“Apparently there must be a lot of drive-by flintlock shootings in North Jersey to account for the fear the state has of ancient collectible pistols,” Van Gilder said.

How To Hide Your Guns, And Other Off-Grid Caches…

Van Gilder’s nightmare began when a Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled him over on a minor traffic infraction in November 2014. The deputy asked Van Gilder what he had in the car, and Van Gilder mentioned the gun. The deputy let Van Gilder go, but the next day sheriff deputies came to his house and arrested him.

The weapon Van Gilder was arrested for carrying is a flintlock, a single shot black-powder weapon that can take a full minute to load. To load the weapon you have to take off the barrel and then use a special rod to ram a ball and powder into it. The pistol is similar to the weapons used in the American Revolution. The flintlock is so hard to load that it is designed to use as a club, making it a lousy self-defense weapon.

Nappen said a prosecutor had told him the sheriff’s department is doing ballistics testing on the pistol in an effort to determine if it was used in any crimes. A firearms expert interviewed by the NRA’s Ginny Simone called the testing a waste of time. Ballistics tests do not work on flintlocks because they do not have a rifled barrel which leaves marks for testing.

Story continues below the video

Not the Only One

Simply carrying a pistol can be considered a felony in New Jersey. In 2013, single mother Shaneen Allen was held in jail for 40 days in Atlantic County, New Jersey, because she was carrying a pistol for which she had a Pennsylvania concealed weapons permit that was not valid in New Jersey, as Off The Grid News reported.

Carrying any pistol without a permit is a second degree felony in New Jersey. The law makes no exemptions for antiques or non-working weaponry.

Not surprisingly, Van Gilder wants to leave New Jersey. He is not alone; moving company United Van Lines reported that more people are leaving New Jersey than any other state.

The Van Gilder Legal Defense Fund has raised $3,315 for Van Gilder’s Defense at Visit his page here.

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