A 72-year-old, retired New Jersey school teacher is facing a felony gun charge after he was caught last year traveling with an unloaded, antique pistol in his glove compartment.
TheBlaze reports Gordon Van Gilder could now end up in prison.
Van Gilder told NRA News, in a video published on YouTube, that he and his wife were returning home from having lunch in November when he was pulled over by a deputy from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Van Gilder said the deputy demanded that he be allowed to search the vehicle.
“They were trying hard to nail me,” he said. “I don’t know why. I don’t get it.”
Van Gilder said he told the officer he had the antique gun in his glove box. It was unloaded and wrapped in a cloth, he said.
Police let him go home that day, but four deputies showed up at his door the next morning to arrest him.
“Here I am a retired teacher coming out of his house, in handcuffs,” Van Gilder said of the morning he was arrested. “Who had a flintlock pistol and now I am charged as a felon. It’s unbelievable. It’s outrageous. It’s an insult to decent people.”
Van Gilder said he owned the pistol because he likes to collect artifacts from the 18th century.
New Jersey attorney, Evan Nappen, who is an expert in the state’s gun laws, explains in the video that handgun laws in the state extend even to antique firearms. Under the law, the nearly 300-year-old, single shot pistol Van Gilder was caught with is treated the same as a .44 magnum, Nappen said.
The retired teacher could face up to 10 years in prison. The law he is charged with violating carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three and a half to five years, Nappen said.
If convicted of the felony, Van Gilder fears he could even lose his pension. But, he said, he is determined to fight the charge.
“I think I can win this and if I don’t my heart is lost for all of America,” he said. “It’s the loss of our history and our tradition.”