(PCM) 72-year old Gordon N. Van Gilder and his 22-year old traveling companion Adam Puttergill were pulled over for a minor traffic violation in Millville, New Jersey last November. During the ordeal both Van Gilder and Puttergill were arrested with one of the charges being a felony against Van Gilder for owning/possessing a 300-year old flintlock pistol that he had recently acquired at a local area pawn shop.
Van Gilder, who is planning to fight the charge, claims that police deputy Joshua Sheppard began screaming at both him and Puttergill and he that he demanded to search the vehicle. In his defense, Sheppard claims that Puttergill was driving on a suspended license and the pair were traveling in a high drug activity area, saying that Van Gilder admitted to being in the area to purchase drugs.
In addition to discovering the 300 year old pistol, police also found a broken scale and several empty small wax plastic bags. No actual drugs were found at the scene other than two prescription medication pills that were being carried by Puttergill, however it turns out they were actually his prescribed medication of an attention deficit disorder and he was simply just carrying them outside of the pill bottle. Puttergill was able to produce his doctor’s written prescription for the medication before a judge.
Van Gilder has not be charged with any drug related offenses, however the New Jersey court system says that the felony charge for the weapons possession will stick. If convicted Van Gilder could face up to ten years behind bars.
Van Gilder said he was cooperative with police on the scene and even told them about the antique gun in the glove compartment. The weapon which was created sometime in the 1700’s is so old that it would require the manual loading of actual gun powder and sphere shaped projectiles to actually even fire. The gun is considered to be a collectors item and an antique, so the fact that Van Gilder could be facing charges for having it in his possession is absolutely ludicrous. He truly feels that the police were just out to get him for some reason or another.
The state of New Jersey is one of the few states with some very outdated gun control laws and it strictly enforces gun registration and does not allow antique firearms to be exempt for the carry laws. New Jersey is basically saying there is not difference between an antique manual loading firearm and a modern day automatic weapon. The police say that Van Gilder did not have the proper paperwork in his possession to be carrying the firearm regardless of it’s age or intended use.
In fact, according to Policestateusa.com, we learned that the laws in New Jersey are so repressive when it comes to firearms that they criminalize guns that are powered by springs, compressed air, and even elastic bands. That being said, you could potentially be arrested in New Jersey for carrying a slingshot.
What do you think? Did the police have the right to search Van Gilder and Puttergill? Should Van Gilder have been charged for possessing an antique weapon?