Source: The Daily Journal -
Legislation introduced in the state assembly Monday saw another local politician seeking to protect antique gun collectors from prosecution under New Jersey gun laws, adding momentum to a growing movement against state gun statutes.
A bill introduced Monday by Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi would exempt antique firearms from the state’s gun laws, which have come under criticism in recent weeks following the arrest of a 72-year-old Port Elizabeth man for having an unloaded flintlock pistol in his car.
“Many people from a variety of backgrounds collect vintage guns for many reasons,” Fiocchi said in a news release. “Some enjoy trading and selling while others are history buffs who attend national gun shows looking for another ‘treasure.’ Regardless, collectors should not face criminal prosecution or prison for possessing or transporting such a firearm that poses no danger to public safety.”
The Fiocchi bill seeks to revise the definition of “antique firearm” in the state’s gun law, and would exempt the possession of such unloaded antique handguns from prosecution under the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, according to a news release issued by Fiocchi.
Under current law, an “antique firearm” is defined to include only rifles and shotguns, Fiocchi said. There is a separate definition for “antique handguns,” and the new measure would amend the law so there is one definition of “antique firearm,” including handguns.
Fiocchi is not the first lawmaker to respond following the November arrest of Gordon Van Gilder by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department for having an unloaded 300-year-old flintlock pistol in the glove compartment of his car.
Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande has stated that she plans to introduce a bill that would align state law with a federal statute exempting firearms manufactured before 1898.
The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office announced Wednesday that they dismissed charges against Van Gilder, who had by that point hired a lawyer and gained local and national attention for his case.
Though Fiocchi did not specifically address the Van Gilder incident in his news release, other lawmakers have been more direct in calling for change following Van Gilder’s arrest.