A Judge in New York tossed charges against William Nolan, who faced up to 15 years in prison for possession of two Mossberg Shockwaves. After careful consideration, a New York Supreme Court judge decided that the Shockwave falls outside of New York’s complex firearm laws.
Nolan, 57, was arrested and charged with possessing unlicensed weapons in December 2018. He had “up to” two Shockwaves and at least one stun gun.
Attorneys at Tilem & Associates, a pro-Second Amendment law firm, successfully argued that New York’s licensing scheme does not apply to the Shockwave, as it doesn’t meet the state’s legal definition of a shotgun or handgun.
“While I am terribly upset that a man who lawfully possessed legally purchased firearms was indicted and spent the last two years of his life facing a 15-year prison sentence, I am deeply gratified that once Tilem & Associates got involved in the case, we were able to quickly get these charges dismissed.” said attorney Peter Tilem.
New York law requires special permits in order to own short-barreled shotguns, which are any shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches long. Because the Shockwave has a 14-inch barrel, Nolan was charged with illegal weapons possession.
However, the law defines a shotgun as a weapon meant to be fired from the shoulder. Since the Shockwave has a bird’s head grip, it can’t be shouldered at all. It also fails to qualify as a handgun in New York, because users need to use two hands to fire it, and it’s not a rifle due to its smoothbore.
Tilem argued that even the investigators refrained from calling it a shotgun in their reports, instead describing it as an “other weapon.”
“It is my hope that prosecutors will think twice before charging law abiding individuals with simple possession of firearms,” said Tilem. “This case, along with so many others, demonstrates the injustices caused by complex, opaque, and confusing gun control statutes that even law enforcement and prosecutors do not understand.”
“In the meantime, note that the judge’s decision in the Nolan case is not precedent for the entire state of New York,” said Bearing Arms’ Cam Edwards. “Nolan’s charges were tossed out, but overzealous law enforcement and prosecutors may still go after other New Yorkers that have a Shockwave that hasn’t been registered.”
Nolan, a former police detective with internal affairs, retired in 2005. He was investigated in 2018 after allegedly sending cryptic emails to former colleagues. After supposedly refusing to cooperate with a cease-and-desist letter, the police intervened.
Investigators secured a warrant to search Nolan’s home in Staten Island in December, when the first news broke that they arrested him for possession of two shotguns, two stun guns, and a number of “high-capacity” magazines. He initially faced weapons possession charges and resisting arrest.
Nolan later disputed the description of events publicly making the rounds. He said he never made any strange or threatening statements to anyone at any time, by email or in person.
Instead, he said that the investigation was a result of complaints Nolan filed against police personnel who refused to open a harassment case involving Nolan and another citizen.
Nolan later filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD for the raid, alleging the police lacked probable cause.
According to the complaint, Nolan was undercover in several cases that investigated active duty, former and retired officers of the NYPD involved in illegal gun sales and drug trafficking, and that he has since faced harassment and fallout from fellow members of NYPD.