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According to NBC10, New Jersey police have arrested—yes arrested—a seven-year-old for wielding a NERF-style toy dart gun in elementary school. Hammonton, NJ police began an investigation into “suspicious activity” after being alerted by school officials. Police then arrested the urchin and charged him/her with possessing an imitation firearm in or on an education institution; a misdemeanor charge. How’s that, you ask? Let’s look at the relevant Garden State statutes, starting with 2C:39-1 . . .


f.”Firearm” means any handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, automatic or semi-automatic rifle, or any gun, device or instrument in the nature of a weapon from which may be fired or ejected any solid projectable ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet, or any gas, vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances. It shall also include, without limitation, any firearm which 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.

By the above definition, a fart could be considered a firearm if its originator used it to cause someone to avert their attention, slip and harm themselves. More realistically, the above language includes air guns, paintball guns, airsoft guns, and toy dart guns. It appears the great state of NJ has a thing against firearms, whether they’re firearms or not.

Be that as it may, why did the school call the police and have one of their own students victimized by overzealous law enforcement? What fear gripped these grown-ups so tightly that they felt the need for armed soldiers of the local municipality? The tipping point: the child “fired” the toy gun.

I’m guessing the child was charged under NJS 2C:39-1, which considers an imitation firearm an “object or device reasonably capable of being mistaken for a firearm.” The state must also prove intent. In short, the seven-year-old had to intend to have others mistake the NERF-style gat for a real firearm. That is going to be a tough one to sell to any jury, even in New Jersey.

So what do we have here? A school that calls the police to solve minor disciplinary problems with students. Police that arrest seven-year-old children and charge them for bringing a toy to school. A DA who reasoned that it would be proper to prosecute a child for bringing a toy to school.

NBC10 reports that “no one was hurt” by this incident. Only the rule of law, common sense and simple human compassion.

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  1. All you had to do was mention New Jersey, and we all knew it would involve something stupid. This kid is screwed because the juries in NJ are full of MORONS. You just have to look back at what they did to that poor guy trying to legally transport his legally owned guns. He was convicted by these fools and sent to prison. The NJ Gov. used a little common sense and released the poor guy, but he’s still got a record. NJ’s state motto should be “HOME OF FOOLS AND IDIOTS”. (gun lovers and NRA members excluded)

  2. NJ is tough on guns, even if they are fake. Poloticians again screwing everybody but their pals. Sen. Lautenberg and his ilk have been in office far to long. We New Jerseians have grown to lazy or to submissive and we continue to elect the very morons who have been screwing us. Whether it’s taxes, insurance or our very right to lawfuly defend our families. This is known as the Pay to Play state, after all. Unfortunately after paying out so much we can’t pay to play.

  3. Residents of NJ, you need to pay more attention to what your legislators are doing. 2C:39-1 is a law that leaves much too much to the interpretation of law enforcement and school officials. Now a child has been terrorized by his school because of the paranoia and irrational fear of anything that even smacks of gun. Shame on the school, and shame on law enforcement!

  4. Welcome to the where the BS rhetoric of ‘getting tough on crime’ hits the road.

    Between ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘performance based policing’ this kind of crap happens every day across the country.

    In my metro there’s a cop in every public school. ‘Natch, if your kid gets into a fight they are no longer sent to the principals office, forced to shake hands and do some detention. Nope, they are arrested and booked. They now have a permanent juve record, which regardless of what you may believe, is never fully expunged, and will haunt your child for the rest of their life.

    Bonus points, the kid learns at an early age that LEOs are their enemy.

    Talk about setting them up for success…

  5. Thats NJ!! The most rediculous gun laws in the nation. Everyone knows it and knowone does anything about it. Our elected officials are scared to do the right thing. The elected officials in the rest of America have changed with the times since 1996 and did the right changes. Jersey just sat on their butt, not going to change the gun laws. New Jersey has sutch a bad impression on the rest of the country for several reasons, this is just one big example. The only elected official that has actually made a difference with the people of NJ in mind for the future is Christie. He is making the tough decisions that NJ needs; the past people they just were looking out for the next term elections. Thats very apparent now, looking back.

    • Christie appointed a liberal, anti-gun AG (Paula Dow), who is actively defending NJ’s may-issue carry law in Federal court. Her first month in office, she filed a motion to dismiss the Federal court challenge to the One Gun a Month law. And, she expanded the assault weapons ban to include 2 new guns. Christie is NO friend to gun owners.

      He’s not even much of a conservative. Under the old liberal guv (Corzine), we had a school funding formula that funneled ~55% of state aid (which is supposed to be distributed equally among ALL students in the state) to 31 of 581 school districts (all Democratic political machine towns/cities), leaving 45% to be divided up among the remaining 550 districts. Under Christie? Now those same 31 districts receive 60+% of the state aid. He refuses to join the lawsuit against Obamacare (but has no problem defending unconstitutional gun laws, apparently), and he’s kept us in the only cap-and-trade scheme in the country.

      Don’t misunderstand, Christie was a much better choice than Corzine, but if the state conservatives had backed Steve Lonegan, NJ would already be in much better shape than we are.

  6. i am ashamed that i am from nj. what a bunch of morons and idiots running the schools, teachers, principals, police department, all of them total idiots. i feel so sorry for this child and his family. i would sue the pants off of school, teacher, principal, and police department and take on the superintendant of this school as well. you are all a disgrace. it’s a damn toy you idiots. a damn toy. what moronic fools, i just can’t get over this.

  7. Wow, this is so dangerous! Carful, or the nerf gun might fire a dart which couldnt even kill a fly!

  8. I am a former prosecutor of Essex County and once had the position of downgrading or dismissing out right charges of an indictable nature. This would have been one I would have dismissed and lectured the arresting officer on appropriate use of police descretion. The facts underlying the arrest is a matter that could be handled by school authority. The situation does not appear to be a matter that the legislative intent was attempting to address. If the decision to arrest was dictated by a superior, he/she should be demoted or retrained in leadership. I don’t believe the last sentenc in the above article because, New Jersey do not have DA’s. New Jersey top law enforcement officers are called Prosecutors.

  9. 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 tthe 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 said “You’re not allowed to even HAVE slingshots”.
    We were allowed to throw the sligshots in the lake, and all was forgiven. Today, I expect we would have been handcuffed and booked as potential gangbangers. You know, slingshots are a gateway weapon for “assault weapons”.

    • You were a victim at an early age. It’s called Misandry. Nobody really likes to talk about it. It’s the elephant in the room. And it’s really Huge. Especially in today’s schools.

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