New Jersey Man Faces Felony Charge for Unloaded Flintlock Pistol

Another excellent video from National Rifle Association investigative reporter Ginny Simone.

“Beware of New Jersey,” warns Gordon VanGilder. The retired schoolteacher is the latest to fall victim to the Garden State’s gun laws — the 72-year-old is facing up to 10 years in prison for having an antique flintlock pistol in his car. In this exclusive report, his attorney notes that VanGilder is facing the same felony charge for his unloaded mid-1700s firearm as he would be for a loaded .44 Magnum. “This is overreach, for sure,” says VanGilder.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 56 comments… add one }
  • Michael Kane February 7, 2018, 6:16 pm

    I don’t believe it! I’d like to more than your highly biased say so before I waste any outrage. Even if “strictly true”, what is the rest of the story?

  • Bad Pinguin February 7, 2018, 11:38 am

    This is one of many reasons I am so glad I am not in that mentally ill state any longer, A .22 cal hollow point bullet is an automatic 1 year in jail.

  • David Telliho July 14, 2017, 6:59 am

    That dangerous weapon of mass destruction, is not a firearm. According to the BATF, it`s a curio. It is not even loaded unless pan is charged. W/cap&ball deadly assault weapons, is not loaded unless percussion cap is on nipple. This case is stupidity in a fine display.

    • Rich February 7, 2018, 4:47 am

      It’s a FLINTLOCK – no cap. THe equivalent would be a primed pan with the frizzen closed.

    • Jim Irwin February 7, 2018, 10:55 am

      Someone is showing his ignorance of federal firearms law definitions. The piece in question is NOT a curio, nor a firearm.
      A percussion, flint, or any other form of ignition other than modern primer is NOT a firearm, but IS an ANTIQUE….even if it was made today; therefore NOT subject to federal gun regulations.
      Any piece made before 1899, regardless if ignition style is an ANTIQUE; NOT A FIREARM.
      OTOH any “modern” cartridge piece (non NFA (machine guns or destructive devices)) made after 1898 and more than 50 years ago is a “curio and/or relic”… even early AR15s. Still subject to federal regs if made after 1898, but can be traded between folks with a C&R (or other) FFL.
      Of course, this Federal firearms law, not to be confused with any draconian state laws.

    • Ron Burdick Jr February 7, 2018, 10:34 pm

      Stupid but not stupidity, they know what they are doing. Any totalitarian regime would do it. Like the leader of our former regime said those who “…get bitter, they cling to their guns and their religion…” We resent our freedoms being taken, duh.

  • gary January 30, 2017, 7:02 pm

    Sounds like Christie talks a good game or doesn’t know what is going on under his hose, either way he is worthless.

  • Wes January 30, 2017, 10:02 am

    This is a very good example of following the rule……NEVER GIVE LEO’S YOUR PERMISSION TO DO ANYTHING!

  • Peter Helms September 16, 2016, 9:07 pm

    The STATE of NewJosey can masticate fecal matter

  • Ronhart September 16, 2016, 2:07 pm

    I was born and grew up in New Jersey in the 40s and 50s (not by choice). By the time I was 17 I was aware there was something strange and dangerous about the state, especially the distrust and contempt towards honest citizens. When I was 17 I asked my father to give his consent for me to join the Navy. My years as a sailor visiting southern Europe brought me to realize that New Jersey is a Gestapo dictatorship and I will never go back there. At 77 I am now seeing the same form of dictatorship in the liberal governments in many other states. I am a life member of the NRA and realize that the free ownership of firearms is the only way we can remain free.

  • BigR March 16, 2015, 5:24 pm

    I’ve been to Jersey many times, but never again! What a crock! I hope Christie runs in the Republican primaries, so I’ll get a chance to vote against him, and that includes my whole family’s votes. As somebody stated earlier, “He should have knocked his wife out cold in the elevator”, he would have a better chance of getting a slap on the wrist.

  • Whomisit February 27, 2015, 9:04 am

    My Grandparents and my father lived in New Jersey most of their lives. They all left New Jersey. They were of Jewish heritage. They had to “pass” as Caucasian, because New Jersey was a hot bed of NAZI activity, and apparently still is. My Great Great Grandfather came from Germany as a child in the early 1800’s. He fought in the American Civil War in the Union Army. I’m sure he is spinning in his grave.

  • Eric February 25, 2015, 7:27 pm

    People who make laws that contradict the principles by which this country was founded, and in this case, contradict Federal law, should themselves be imprisoned. I am appalled that a Sheriff – an office created to protect the people from an overreaching government – would enforce such a thing, especially under these circumstances. The Sheriff, of all officials, should be standing up for this man’s rights! What a sad day this is, if these acts of tyrrany go unpunished, for the crime of the local government far overshadows the “wrongs” committed by the innocent.

  • Max Hoyle February 24, 2015, 6:14 pm

    Dthe assholes in new jersey even know that you can even send these guns thru the mail? New jersey, new york, con., mass, cali. all places that nothing would convince to to to, under any circumstances! Never! I know that I didn’t use capital letters on the names, they don’t deserve it! Lets vote them out of the USA! Everyone would be happy about it!

  • Tom G February 24, 2015, 5:09 pm

    I have to say that the NRA is really failing the people of New jersey and also the people who have to travel there for business or whatever. Why haven’t they called out the governor or the legislators on changing some of these outrageous laws.
    I thought the NRA was supposed to fight these types of laws.

  • D Hicks February 24, 2015, 1:54 pm

    Why did this happen??

  • robert p February 23, 2015, 9:08 pm

    We must remember the police exist to extract cash from the public. And we must remember Governor Christy of NJ is NJ CEO who wants to be President. Obama might be Democrat but Christ is Republican. So party is not the factor but the man himself. I avoid NJ at all costs, NY might be bad but not as bad as NJ. For those reasons, I do not travel whatsoever to the Northeast on vacation or anything else. I feel sorry for the people in that area and VanGilder has terrible decisions to make. It is a disgrace what the police put him thru. I grew up in New England but I will not set foot there again in this life. The police have laws they have to enforce (hence the term LEO) but I hope the arresting officer had remorse in doing his job.

    • Eric February 24, 2015, 5:47 am

      Since when is NY or NJ part of New England, that’s insulting. NJ must of succeeded from the USA and joined the AXIS powers. Disgrace.

  • Russ February 23, 2015, 5:57 pm

    “Don’t come to New Jersey, and don’t live here.”
    Great advice, Thanks.

  • BigR February 23, 2015, 1:16 pm

    He would have been better off knocking his wife out cold in an elevator!

  • Eric Holder February 23, 2015, 1:13 pm

    The motor vehicle code is so extensive that there is always a reason to make a stop. Once stopped you are an “investigatory detention”. During that time if other suspicious activities arise they can also be investigated. The courts always view an officers safety as paramount for the reason he is searching you and the car for weapons. All the laws and rights discussed mean zero. Why? Because you are depending on the officer who stopped you to tell the truth. This is a mistake. They will not intentionally say anything that they believe will help you. They lie everyday and perjure themselves and even when caught the courts do nothing to them. Remember they do not need a valid violation of the motor vehicle code to stop you. They can say that they had information from another crime and you fit the description or believed you looked like a person who was wanted. How about thought you were swerving and needed medical assistance or DUI? I know these things because I have seen it happen in Philadelphia. Cops stop a car and search a trunk and then the pistol was on a person and they never searched a trunk. Firearms investigators say a weapon was operable when in fact it was not. Yep they will even make a repair for the prosecution. A guy I worked with who was taking Prozac and carrying three guns with him on duty. He was actually involved in an off duty shooting with his service pistol and came to my house asking to watch the news after the fact. You may wonder what about me? I went to Internal Affairs and the FBI. The result was I loss my promotion to Detective, loss my job, pension, everything. These people are being paid and as long as they do not say anything against the department, they can do whatever they want.

  • james February 23, 2015, 1:09 pm

    Get a bunch of the “BIOHAZARD” decals and put em on your windows, with a disclaimer in large print “WARNING: OCCUPANT IS BEING TREATED FOR T.B., SMALL POX, SARS or any airborne infectious disease. That should keep them at bay.

  • gym February 23, 2015, 12:05 pm

    Imagine this Governor becoming President, what a screw over that would be. He sounds like he declared Marshall Law there.

  • XV700C February 23, 2015, 11:25 am

    And Governor Christy of NJ wants to be President. And a Republican at that in charge of a literal police state. Wow! Bad news anyway you look at it. Maybe that is why their state police look similar to WWI I storm troopers.

  • Michael Felter February 23, 2015, 11:08 am

    Lets face it we are not free any more,,people come from other country’s, and say WOW,,for a free country you have alot of law’s,, And we also have people telling us what words we can say and not,,,we can’t say the N word anymoe ,,but they can say CRACKER or any other thing they can think of and its OK. In South Carolina we can’t break up…or smash up water melons anymore,,,every body want’s to tell you what to do,,,and how,,,here in South Carolina the state is putting millions into a BLACK or AFRICAN MUSEUM,,,,I have been in other MUSEUMS all around the United Stare’s they have large sections with AFRICAN ,artifacts,,,,some body tell me I’m wrong,,,,

    • mattitiude February 23, 2015, 1:24 pm

      I’m curious…why can’t you in SC break up/smash watermelons??? What are the consequences of destroying said watermelons?

    • Harlan February 23, 2015, 1:59 pm

      So SC even has segregated museum’s…

    • ejharb March 21, 2015, 3:05 am

      My wife was born in the Soviet union during the Brezhnev era.I showed her the constitution and she said it is fascinating document but we don’t follow it. Says so much.

  • Gary February 23, 2015, 10:18 am

    The North East States really suck. Don’t know how people live there, I thought Il. was the assh*&e of the world, guess I’m wrong. Hope He sues the hell of of them. If anyone should go to jail it’s the leaders of NJ, traitors all of them.

  • Bill Searcher February 23, 2015, 9:43 am

    Building on my previous comment, mightn’t the officer consider the 8 1/2×11 printed statement as reasonable suspicion?

  • Bill Searcher February 23, 2015, 9:39 am

    Al’s printed statement, the part saying: “However, I do not consent to any searches whatsoever. (See: 4th Amendment and Fruit of The Poisonous Tree Doctrine, in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. U.S.)” sounds like it would be a refusal to allow a search, which would, based on Al’s previous post, allow them to summon a K9 unit.

    Am I misunderstanding something?

    • tom G February 24, 2015, 4:22 pm

      I thought the same thing
      PS New jersey sucks

      • Fake George Washington crossing the Delaware River into NJ April 28, 2017, 12:03 pm

        I think NJ is quaint. Stupid, but quaint.

        I went into a gun shop there one time. The owner and three cops in the store were freaked I knew so much about firearms. I thought I was going to get arrested. (I live in the Intermountain west.)

        They weren’t into casually discussing the pros and cons of cal. .40S&W versus 9mm. In the same jurisdiction, I gave my girlfriend a picture I had taken of her at my house holding an AK. They really freaked about that and she was a police dispatcher.

  • JGTinNJ February 23, 2015, 9:05 am

    Be aware of one thing when exercising your rights. Police use their instincts, their instincts are often correct and a person they stop is up to no good. Sometimes they are wrong. If a person starts evoking his or her rights from the start, the officer’s instinct will immediately signal “Guilty – of something”, and your life will be made miserable. The only way we can change the situation is to train far more people to exercise the rights we have from the beginning of an encounter. This is against our instincts. Unless we have been brought up in an area in which we acquired a lot of street smarts most of us want to be cooperative, help the person doing a necessary job, and be on our way. I have seen this duality at work many times, in other areas of interaction with government or even large institutions. For you an encounter is a rare event and you want to help. For the other the encounter is a routine they have experienced many times and they know well from experience and training what they can get away with.

    • Eric February 25, 2015, 7:55 pm

      Sadly, this is not always the case. My experience w/ police (and the Sheriff) has been, by and large, positive. But 15% (or so) of the time, there’s always that one, gung-ho, gonna-get-me-a-criminal kinda guy that’s looking for an excuse to take someone down.
      Example: several years ago, I was doing field tests for Motorola in north central Texas. Two of us arrived at 5 a.m. in a park. There was a locked gate. We had been given a key by the management office. We had been out in the field unloading r.f. equipment about 15 minutes, when in rushed a cop, through the gate, lights and siren blaring, right up to our car. He jumped out, screamed at us to get our hands up, while holding us at gun point. When he questioned us, we politely told him who we were, and reminded him we had opened the gate with a key. We were wearing ties, slacks, … all the business clothing. He didn’t care. He made us stand in his headlights while he searched our vehicle without permission. Perhaps he had experienced some gang/drug activity in the area; however, our rights were very much violated. He held us there for over an hour before he was eventually “called off” by his superiors. I probably could have sued the department for that episode, but didn’t want to have Motorola breathing down my neck.

      In other words, not every officer of the law is a good representation of the protector of citizens. As in this case, when the law protects the abusers more than the law-abiding, there is something fundamentally wrong going on uphill.

  • Dar February 23, 2015, 9:01 am

    After reading this article, I will never visit the state of new jersey, not even to visit family or friends. This law is draconian, and as far as I’m concerned, a violation not only of the 2nd amendment, but also a persons civil rights against search and seziure. It’s obvious the politicans that make these laws and the police that enforce them to this extreme are incapable of using the brains God gave them. or in this case, didn’t give them.

  • TERRY HOBBS' MISSOURI; February 23, 2015, 8:53 am


  • mick Laurence February 23, 2015, 7:59 am

    Great article,. I travel to/thru New Jersey quite often on my way to Bloombergville(NY)
    Good to know how to handle a potential situation


  • Al February 18, 2015, 12:03 pm

    Here is an addendum to my post I feel will be helpful. It is from (Keeping police at a fishbowl distance):

    I am exercising my right to remain silent. (See: Miranda v. Arizona)
    Do not attempt to question me. I will not respond. (See: 5th Amendment)
    I will show you my driver’s license (and registration) and proof of insurance, upon demand.
    However, I do not consent to any searches whatsoever. (See: 4th Amendment and Fruit of The Poisonous Tree Doctrine, in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. U.S.)
    Do not detain or delay me when you lack Plain View, Probable Cause, or Reasonable Suspicion grounds. Let me know when I am free to go.

    Print the above on an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper to carry in your car and display in your window.

    • Tom February 23, 2015, 6:52 am

      I printed Al’s addenum, trimmed it and placed it with my drivers license.

    • Walter White February 23, 2015, 8:24 am

      The most important things to say, politely, but if need be, repeatedly are;
      1.) “Am I free to go?” If so politely and slowly leave.
      2.) “I wish to have council present when I speak to you.”

      You have to give them your name and address. You are not required to have ID unless you’re driving, of course.
      Walter White (criminal defense attorney for 38 years)

  • John February 17, 2015, 8:00 pm

    He’s lucky that he didn’t have black powder in his car. Imagine the charges he would face for that. I’m sure they would liken him to the unibomber. This is absolutely insane. I bet the cop gets a gold star on his locker. So much for freedom . How can the people in New Jersey put up with this crap? They all can’t be liberals, are they?

  • John February 17, 2015, 7:59 pm

    He’s lucky that he didn’t have black powder in his car. Imagine the charges he would face for that. I’m sure they would liken him to the unibomber. This is absolutely insane. I bet the cop gets a gold star on his locker. So much for freedom . How can the people in New Jersey put up with this crap? They all can’t be liberals, are they?

  • Al February 17, 2015, 5:49 pm

    Here’s what you can expect in NJ: If you get pulled over, the trooper will ask permission to search your car.
    Your best response is do not acknowledge or answer. Give them all your documents: Driver’s license, insurance card, registration; but do not otherwise engage. Ask if you are under arrest, and if you are free to leave. If they need your permission it’s because they have no probably cause. Anything found is “Fruit of a Poisoned Tree” in legal parlance. If you refuse to allow the search, your refusal allows him to go to the next step: He will call a K-9 unit. They will run the dog on your car (making sure to scratch your paint) and the handler will tap your vehicle: That will cause the dog to false alert: Now they can use anything they find against you – as they have the legal window dressing of a (false) positive K-9 alert. DO NOT GIVE PERMISSION – AND DO NOT REFUSE. Ask if you are under arrest and if you are free to leave. They can’t get as K-9 search unless you first give them your refusal and they cannot search you unless you give them your permission. If you give them neither, they can only proceed with an illegal search that will be thrown out of court.

    Among the things you can go to prison for: A “billy” (that’s any stick of wood, tire thumper, or even a breaker bar); a hollow-point bullet (‘dumm-dumm bullet law’), a slingshot, air rifle, BB gun (all are considered “firearms”). If you have cash on your person in any amount, they can take it as presumed profits of a drug deal (even without an arrest or conviction they keep the cash). Do not answer any questions. Do not engage. Do not give permission. Do not refuse permission. Let them give you a summons. Go off on your merry way – consider yourself lucky. Better yet, when you plan your next trip on MapQuest, click and drag the route away from New Jersey completely – it’s really that bad.

    • LFT February 23, 2015, 7:11 am

      Thanks Al for the excellent advice! Keep your mouth shut and don’t be intimidated to talk to these ‘storm troopers’ hanging on to the government’s teats. Instead of ‘serving and protecting’ the populate they ‘harass and intimidate’.

    • Paul Lewis February 23, 2015, 9:09 am

      It said the firearm was in his car and unloaded. It almost sounds like it was in the drivers compartment with him. If the weapon is in the trunk, unloaded, does that make a difference? If not, I will never go to New Jersey! I would get in a lot of trouble. I own an M1 Garand. I can only imagine how that would go over.

      • Rob February 23, 2015, 11:45 am

        IMHO, In NJ you can transport a securely wrapped unloaded firearm in a non-passenger compartment (trunk), unlocked. If accessible (SUV) then must be in locked case. You can legally transport if you are going TO or FROM a shooting range, gun shop, gunsmith, etc. IF you stop for lunch on the way you could have a problem. IF you forget to take your gun out of your trunk when you go to store later, you could really have a problem. Do yourself a favor (and save lots of money), stay out of NJ, or know the laws, comply to the letter, and cooperate with cops. They’re not out to get you unless you piss them off. Stand up for your rights if you want, but get your checkbook ready if you do. I know it’s not right….just trying to help.

      • Fake George Washington crossing the Delaware River into NJ April 28, 2017, 12:11 pm

        Mere possession of a firearm (without a permit that is impossible to get), no matter where it is, is a felony. I am aware of one occasion where police found a couple of disassembled firearms in the truck of someone’s car. Off to jail for mandatory 8 years. Probably maximum security…

    • James Chandler February 23, 2015, 10:23 am

      Where can we donate money to his defense. Come to Ohio, we will fix you up with a place to live.

    • john milligan February 23, 2015, 11:56 am

      sounds like a parallel of nazi germany or the soviet union. i remember spiro, does the constitution not apply to nj?

    • Winston February 25, 2015, 6:12 pm

      Best to stay out of that state- period. Don’t fly there, don’t drive there. If you live there, move out.

  • Slim February 17, 2015, 1:58 pm

    All I can say is thank God I live in the south.

    • Daniel Stewart February 23, 2015, 10:49 am

      I’ve been to Jersey, all I can say is that ISIS and the Taliban can have it. Obama can retire there with his ISIS friends.

      • Eric Holder February 23, 2015, 12:40 pm

        That was really funny! Bad back and a lot of pain today but you put a smile on my face. Thanks. LMAO

    • john February 24, 2015, 1:14 pm

      well if you run you ask for it

    • Winston February 25, 2015, 6:09 pm

      Don’t forget to vote for GOP Big Noy Chris Christie. LOL. What a corrupt state.

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