New Jersey gun laws: felony for possession of antique flintlock

Gordon VanGilder, a 72 year old retired schoolteacher, now faces felony charges for possessing a 225 year old flintlock pistol, which he says he told a sheriff’s deputy about during a routine traffic stop. [NRA YouTube] More: Charles Cooke, Scott Greenfield (current New Jersey law specifically prohibits possession of antique firearms, a provision one lawmaker there would like to fix). For more on the tender mercies of New Jersey gun control laws, see our coverage of the Brian Aitken case.


  • Move to Ohio we will put your gun on a pedestal.
    And if you need help with money for your defense let us know we will send it.
    I went to New Jersey on business once and will never do business there again.
    This is where it all started why are they going back ward. Maybe they want what we were fighting against when this country was made.

    • Dont forget to vote Chris Christie……

  • Wow, I’m disgusted by this for you. It’s obviously a ‘collectible’ item never intended to be fired. While it may be in good condition, i wouldn’t personally recommend firing the weapon just for safety reasons. It was wrapped up, with no ammunition, not loaded, cop didn’t even really know what it was, and they’re coming after this man. This abuse of the law by government is what really enrages people. Some sections of government are so out of touch with reality, more concerned about what other countries and peoples think of us, than they are concerned with doing what is right by it’s citizens.

    You should move, along with everyone else that feels that local gov’t is persecuting them. I feel bad that you have to fight such a ‘bullshit’ charge, but when these politicians get on a kick about something, the only thing you can do is fight back. I wish you all the luck in the world on this, it’s time Americans started taking back this country and this is how it’s done, one step at a time.

  • That’s what happens when you try and do the right thing he didn’t have to tell the deputy about it and it’s an antique and the only reason he’s facing any charges at all is because his second amendment rights have been violated by the very people that have sworn to protect those rights … Sounds like greed to me an item like that has great value and won’t be destroyed but sold to purchase more weaponry for the sheriffs office so they can continue to terrorize the citizens within their jurisdiction. Contrary to popular belief it is no longer innocent until proven guilty you are guilty until you spend tens of thousands of dollars proving your own innocence. Which only benefits your accusers in the end.

  • Thanks to Young Americans for Liberty for highlighting this post on social media, bringing thousands of viewers.

  • Also, here’s an appalling epilogue to the Brian Aitken story: although public outrage led to Aitken’s release from prison and the reversal of much of the firearms case against him, “the State of New Jersey still won’t let me see my son unless I’m supervised by a police officer inside of a court house. My son turned seven in February and I haven’t been allowed to see him in six years.” More details:

  • It wasn’t that long ago that one could buy a cap and ball pistol or revolver without any sort of permit in NJ. I don’t know when the law changed.

    The legislative intent of the so called Graves Act, which mandates mandatory prison terms for carrying a handgun, was to crack down on armed muggings. Senator Frank Graves, was a old style political boss from the Paterson/Passaic area of North Jersey. I close friend of mine drafted the bill for Graves as a Committee Aide. Graves wanted to show how tough on crime he was at the time but had a poor understanding of the consequences of the his bills enactment. Even Graves would have balked at this application of his law.

    I believe that the legislature recently passed a law to deal with lawful CCW holders from other states who stray into New Jersey unwittingly. A great many people in Pennsylvania have CCW’s and are at risk of absent-mindedly straying into the People’s Republic of New Jersey.

    One thing about this case seems odd to me. Sheriff’s Deputies didn’t typically perform traffic stops as a matter of practice. They do have the power. I’m wondering why they did in this case. Too bad the old gent chose to give permission for the search. I doubt the Sheriff’s Department had antique sniffing hounds!

    In any case, as a matter of prosecutorial policy, it seems that any excuse to prosecute “Gun Crime” is enough. Why any self-respecting person continues to live in New Jersey is a real question.

  • An honest man he should have refused a search and he should have stated he is taking the antique gun to the repair shop..we travel to Nantucket each year.. We will take the long way around New Jersey. Gov Christie should step in.