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Reader Erik writes:

I’m one of the unlucky bastards who calls New Jersey home. Now, NJ gun law rants typically focus either on the state’s infamous hollow point ban or its may-issue — no-issue in practice — position on concealed carry permits. But I don’t know how many people know about NJ’s definition of a handgun or its mandatory sentencing statutes . . .

Recently, a close friend of mine was sentenced to a year in jail for simple possession of a spring airsoft gun. For those of you who do not know, an airsoft gun shoots 6mm pellets at around 300 feet per second and can only harm someone if hit in the eye. I would like to point out that my friend was not brandishing it in an illegal manner or using it in the commission of an illegal activity; he simply had it on his person.

Why, might you ask, was he sentenced to a year in jail? In the state of New Jersey, an airsoft gun is considered the same thing as a real firearm. NJSA 2C:39-5B states:

Any person who knowingly has in his possession any handgun, including any antique handgun, without first having obtained a permit to carry the same as provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4, is guilty of a crime of the third degree if the handgun is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person. Otherwise it is a crime of the second degree.

Additionally, gun offenses are almost always subject to the Graves Act which provides mandatory sentencing without the possibility of parole. I just wanted to share my story with the rest of the gun community. It’s a shame that my friend has to be locked up for a year for doing nothing wrong.


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  1. WOW ,, So much for justice! What does your Gov. Cristie have to say of such crap. I live in NH (Live Free or Die) but do live near the Iraq(Massachusetts). NJ is out of control!

  2. As an NJ gun owner, I’ve officially come to the conclusion that this state is a directly transplanted slice of the USSR. A truly eye opening “wtf” story for us all. And the sad thing is, NOBODY cares enough to get the laws here changed, even our governor.

      • Trust me, a totally pro-gun governor in NJ would be a sign of divine intervention. Plenty of the older gun owners jumped ship when they could and moved to PA or elsewhere decades ago. We’ve had this FID card system since the late 40’s and it’s only gotten worse. It’s hard to get the laws changed when even the NRA considers NJ a lost cause.

  3. Erik,

    I’m sorry to read about what your friend and you are going through because of the NJ police-nanny state laws.

    • Thanks, Aharon. I’m writing to him every day to try to keep his spirits up. I unfortunately cannot visit him, as the jail only allows family.

      It’s a shame that “possession of a handgun” will forever be on his record. Furthermore, I believe it’s a felony, so my friend will never have the legal ability to protect himself, even in his own home.

  4. This is where “jury nullification” is the last stop-gap measure. Any jury in the world should have unanimously balked at criminalizing the possession of a toy and acquitted the man. Now had the man used the toy and tried to pass it off as real in an armed robbery, that would be a different matter. But that doesn’t appear to be the case here.

    We need to start educating the masses on basic civics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Totally agree about jury nullification, but disagree that it’s the “last measure.” What’s the saying?… “Soap box, ballot box, jury box, cartridge box”

  5. Yep being a gun owner in NJ I know carrying my co2 powered pellet pistol would be bad b/c im pretty sure you have the go through all the same hoops as a hand gun (long gun purchase permit then pistol purchase permit)…. but I dont think the same for airsoft… its out of control here I cant wait to move out of this state!

  6. Just one more reason to eliminate “may issue” as an unconstutional, arbitrary, outrageous violation of Human rights, giving birth to this form of injustice under color of law.

  7. And I thought California was a crap place to live. The more I read about Jersey, the more I realize how much it sucks.

  8. I have one of the battery-powered, semi-auto Nerf rifles, and having taken it apart with a couple engineering buddies of mine, I’m pretty sure any of the Nerf pistols would count as handguns, even the pump actions. They just use springs, I believe, and the semi-autos use a spring/pneumatic combo, I think (been 6 months since we took it apart). I suppose it would really hinge on what counts as “bullets” or “missiles” and what the exact width of the darts are.

    Think of the kids! Criminal scum…

    • Sling shots are considered hand guns in NJ. I had a lever action pop gun when I was a kid (in NY) and used to plug up the barrel end with dirt. When you pulled the trigger out came the dirt. I’m sure that would be a mandatory sentence.
      About hizhoner, he did get Brian Aitkin (spelling) out of a 7+ year sentence because everyone shamed him into it. You should start a campaign, call Hannity or Imus and let them know, they have his ear sort of.

  9. Right on Ralph! Many people were wanting him to run for POTUS….thank goodness he declined. We already have a King…er…Emporer.

  10. I avoid the Democratic People’s Republic of New jersey. I don’t even drive through the state if I can avoid it.

  11. I had my first run-in with NJ “gun laws” when I was about 10 years old (a loooong time ago). A friend and I were on the shore of the local lake, shooting stones at tin cans bobbing in the water with our slingshots. I noticed a neighbor, who was sunning herself about 50 yards away, said nothing to us, but went into the house for a few minutes, then came back out.
    A few minutes later, the local police car (I think the town only had 1) pulled up and we were told that we were “breaking the law”. I thought the officer meant that somehow we were doing something unsafe, but he explained “You’re not allowed to even HAVE a slingshot”.
    We were allowed to throw the slingshots in the lake, and all was forgiven. Today, I expect we would have been handcuffed and booked as potential gangbangers. You know how it all works, slingshots are a gateway weapon for “assault weapons”.

    • Nunchucks are illegal in my State, Arizona. Yeah, the “anything goes” State as far as firearms. Even a nazi with a dishonorably discharge like JT Ready can carry an AR15 around without any police involvment. But tie two pieces of metal pipe together with a chain, you go to tent city.

  12. JON Stewart demonstrated last night, quite clearly, that Christie is a hypocrite of the most dangerous political type and not fit to even be a dog catcher, much less walk the streets with honest folk. Just goes to show party affiliation means nothing. Once again we see that SCUM can walk any political path and get elected by telling enough lies.

  13. NJ is one State I will stay away from. I have relatives in Chicago and I like to spend time in California (beaches, wine, women…), but I would avoid these places if I could otherwise.

    Remember when that guy’s plane was rerouted to Newark while he was going to a competition and carrying his competition pistols with him? From what I remember, his guns got confiscated and he got probation time. Even with the best lawyers the NRA could send.

    Avoid NJ at all cost.

    • He should be able to get that overturned under the Firearms Owner Protection Act. In a nutshell you are allowed to transport a firearm through a state that forbids it as long as the firearm is legal at both ends, unloaded and cased during transport. The law was past in the late 80’s at a Federal level so it trumps NJ law.

      But you are right about avoiding NJ.

  14. If I was jailed for being in possession of a child’s toy, I would be mailing the white house for presidential pardon because of the pure ludicrosity of the charges.

  15. I escaped the People’s Demokratik Republik of New Jersey about 25 years ago. You can’t blame Gov. Christy for the B-B gun, sling shot, air soft laws as they have existed in Nj for DECADES. Some folks were building “Spud launchers” out of PVC pipe, a grill spark ignitor and using hair spray for propellent. Guess what? They are considered firearms as well. It’s been common practice all my life (I’m 56 years old) for folks to buy their pellet guns, CO2 supplies, slingshots, etc at the “Box” Mart in PA and then illegally smuggle them into NJ while trying to avoid the “Bridge trolls”. This time of year is a really bad time to try this as NJ also outlaws fireworks, which are readily available in PA at just about every retail store you can think of including the chain grocery stores. The NJ state police do spot inspections of vehicles coming from PA a lot before, during, and after July 4th for fireworks, liquor, cigarettes, and other contraband. so if you went to Walmart in PA and got a couple of bags of fireworks, 3 slingshots for the kids, a couple of CO2 powered B-B pistols, then stopped at a beer outlet for a few cases of cold Yuengling ale, a couple of cartons of cigarettes at $65 a pop vs, $85 in NJ and get caught in a spot check while on the interstate driving home cold sober and 1 mph under the limit with your “goodies”, you will be in a heap of trouble. Those of us that were born in NJ learned early on that we were not supposed to have any fun here (#1 state for toxic waste superfund sites, and home of the eternally burning tire fire), so don’t go and try bringing any fun with you from across the border, it tain’t allowed.

    • I’ve heard stories about State Police pulling people over and finding fireworks. I imagine that if one were to put fireworks in the trunk of his or her car, than he/she could refuse a search. They can only search your car with probable cause, such as a receipt or fireworks lying in plain view. Now, they may try to trick you by saying things like “it’ll make it easier for you” but that how they trick you into consenting to a search.

  16. Erik, I too live in NJ and feel your pain. One quick point, there is no “hollow point” ammo ban in the the Garden State as you suggest in paragraph one…just sayin…

  17. next they’ll be telling me that my custom spring pinball gun is illegal to lol
    [note: the pinball gun is a lie]

  18. Next they’ll be telling me that my spring loaded pinball gun that i made from an old arcade machine is illegal to carry too. lol.
    [note: the spring loaded pinball gun is a joke and does not exist for retail or otherwise]

  19. Great post Erik…

    We talked with Attorney Evan Nappen on Gun For Hire Radio a few weeks ago about another case just like this–he was successfully defending. your readers can hear the episode here.

    Like you, every week we bring truth to light about the lunacy of the gun laws, the failed anti-gun policies and trampling of our rights–and we have some fun doing it. Keep up the good work, we need more voices like yours.

    Sandy Berardi, Executive Producer, Gun For Hire Radio
    Gun For Hire Radio—the Voice of 1-Million New Jersey Gun Owners, is the Number-One rated talk show in the Nation. News, commentary, entertainment and education you won’t hear anywhere else. Listen, learn and laugh you’re ass off.

    • Thank you so much.

      I will do my best to gather as much information on this case. Unfortunately, all I can get is my friend’s version of the story and the record of him being in jail. I will get back to you as soon as possible.

  20. How can they say Airsoft guns are illegal when they sell it all over the boardwalk in Atlantic City without license needed? On top of that, I just recently bought two Airsoft guns and no license were required from me when I purchased them.

  21. I think its funny how ppl really still stand for the national anthem at events. The national anthem, a song about FREEDOM in a country where possessing a TOY is a FELONY? Exactly what are americans definition of freedom? Because the overwhelming majority truly believe they are free! This is not the vision George Washington had for this country and if he were to see what it had become specifically NJ I assume he would order these NAZIS hung! I can guarantee if you conducted a search of every member of the NJ legislatures home you would find a firearm in every one because “laws” are for YOU not them. and do you really expect them to feel secure without the means to protect themselves and their family inside their own home? The murder by gun rate in NJ is still 2.8 per 100k residents and to give this perspective californias is 3.4. So in a sense the very wise law makers is this state have made law biding residents SITTING DUCKS for criminals who dont give a F–K about the gun laws and are going to posses a gun and commit gun crime anyway. … Very ironic how in countries not considered free by americans such as Russia or maybe Ukraine surely do NOT have a policy to lock up its citizens for possessing an airsoft gun. Rename this country.. its not america

  22. i lived in nj my hole life.i can not wait to leave this garbage of a state.i work for the state and it is so bad if anyone knew what was going on.honestly this state should sink into the is sad what it has all the politicans and government hope your day comes for you with your lying cheating robbing people you are.i know many.its embarrasing.4 more years and im out of this shit hole state.

  23. as far as christty goes who signs my little paycheck hes dirt and the rest of them in that office.i could be here all nite the true theifs they are.sorry nj.i enjoyed growing up back in the day here,but now this state is total russia ussr in the 80s in usa nj.goodbye nj sink in the water with the government.

  24. new law in nj from christty,if you flush twice and wipe once you pay and extra tax.its called the toliet paper tax.6 cents goes into there pocket on that second flush.they will have gps and cameras installed on your toliet.i work for nj government i hate them all.just here for my shitty paycheck and to watch the higher ups clean house and fill there pockets.just hiding pictures txtes email to whistle blow.hope it puts this state into the junkyard

  25. If Gov. Christie really cared about crime and public safety he would shutdown the guy scamming US Soldiers at the scam fake military store located near F Dix. The guy running that place is a criminal and a scam artist who was caught posing as a US Army Major when he was never intbe military. The crooks name is Carmine L Annunziata and his fraudulent phony military store is called Joint Base Uniform Equipt Center JBUEC in Wrightstown. That scammer wants soldiers to believe that his scam store is part of the military but it is NOT part of the military. He is only looking to scam soldiers by selling fake goods while claiming he’s military or DOD. Soldiers and Airsoft players stay away from this criminal and don’t give him your personal information credit cards or money.

  26. by what measure do these stoned justice officials assume an airsoft spring pistol, a gun well under the projectile speed of what urban arenas consider to be able to cause harm (350 fps, spring pistols generally have trouble reaching 300) ,can be declared a weapon that has “sufficient force to injure a person.” Also, didn’t airsoft used to be used in training because they (the government) agreed it was not harmful (at least I hope they assumed that). Did no attorney bring that up?

    These morons are not even capable of reading their own laws. Is there something I’m missing here? Some elusive other law I don’t know about, or is this what NJ is like?

    btw I still live in NJ, unfortunately

  27. I left the psycho state of NJ over 10 years ago largely due to its’ oppressive Gestapo like laws relating to LEGAL firearm ownership.Illegal firearm ownership is a whole other story because criminals do not abide by the huge number of existing laws relating to firearm sales and ownership.
    Anyway, to learn there are laws regarding airsoft gun carry just substantiates the lunacy prevalent in NJ,which at one time was maybe, the best state in the USA.KEY WORDS-At one time,a long,long time ago.
    But thanks to the destructive, politician, boobs who run and have run NJ they ruined it-bad gun laws,state income tax,sales tax first 5 then 6 then 7 who knows what percent,very very high real estate taxes and more gun deaths in Newark now than in many years! BTW no gun stores in Newark-hmm,wonder how the criminals get their guns,maybe ILLEGALLY?

  28. this doesn’t make sense. You need a gun permit to buy a bb gun (which fires metal pellets or round bb balls) but not to buy an airsoft gun. I specifically asked this of a retailer.

    If I was carrying it on my person, different story, many look like real guns especially if you remove the bright colored tip. I could see that being a problem. The key thing I would ask is, if he was going to a target range or a friend’s house or an airsoft playing field, was it on his person or in a box or something in his car? I would not carry one on my person if transporting it just because it could be mistaken for a real gun. But as far as I know, the “treated as a gun” is for bb guns not airsoft. I would be very curious how this occurred and for the details.

    It sounds to me like the poor guy got screwed.

    For the record I don’t think that either bb guns or airsoft should be treated the same as a firearm, but again, far as I know, for airsoft it isn’t.

    Then again we all know the anti-gun people would outlaw squirt pistols if they could so who knows.

  29. Thank you for posting this. I’ve been trying to get my boys to get rid of their Airsoft guns for years (because the pellets congregate in the pool filter). Now I have a solid reason to turn them back in where we bought them- and I don’t even have to be the mean mom.


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