ATF’s Form 4473, the required background check form for purchasing a firearm, includes a litany of questions to which the prospective purchaser affirms, on penalty of felony, that they have answered honestly. When 65-year-old Charles Castelluzzo answered the third question, which asks whether one has ever been convicted of a felony, his “no” answer landed him in court.
According to the Shore Daily News:
“…Castelluzzo testified that he thought a 1980 charge of possession of cocaine was a misdemeanor and was dismissed because he was a first-time drug offender who said he did what he was told to do more than 30 years ago. He quit using drugs, did community service, and the police in New Jersey gave him his guns back, which had been confiscated because of the charge.”
Castelluzzo’s confusion regarding that four decade-old charge resulted because New Jersey simply lists charges by degree and his possession charge was “a third-degree.” It’s also more than a little interesting that his firearms were returned to him by one of the most heavily gun-controlled states in the country. I wasn’t able to find more information about this aspect of the story, unfortunately.
At any rate, again from the story at the Shore Daily News:
…Judge W. Revell Lewis III said the defendant was convicted of a felony. “New Jersey does have a first offender statute that was not applied in this case,” the judge said. “The problem I have is intent. I believe that Mr. Castelluzzo may have been mistaken about whether or not he” was a felon. “I can understand why you would be confused about this … Now you know sir. Never apply again for a firearm because if you come back again you are going to be found guilty.”
Or, you know, perhaps a 40-year-old drug possession charge (for cocaine in the 80s, mind you), the only apparent ding on Castelluzzo’s 65-year record, shouldn’t be upheld as a reason to deny him his natural, civil, and allegedly Constitutionally-protected basic human right of self-defense.