Iraq War Vet Fights Seizure of Guns in Millstone, NJ
Leonard Cottrell Jr. fought on the front lines in the Iraq War. Now, he feels like he is fighting on the frontlines at home in New Jersey for the right to bear arms. Cottrell recently told the media that he was working at Wawa on June 14 when he got a call from his wife around 9:30 p.m. to let him know that two police officers from the New Jersey State Police’s Hamilton station were at the doorstep of his Millstone home. The troopers, who patrol this sprawling Monmouth County township, were there because Cottrell’s 13-year-old son had reportedly made a comment at school about the Millstone Middle School’s security. The police officers who were now at Cottrell’s home wanted to confiscate his firearms as part of the investigation into Cottrell’s son.
Cottrell, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who served three tours during “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” legally owns a shotgun and a pistol. He possesses all the correct permits and predominantly uses the shotgun to hunt. He reported that his wife allowed the NJ police officers to enter the home; with her permission, they searched his son’s room but did not find any firearms. However, the police did locate firearms in different areas of the house. When the police sought to seize the firearms, Cottrell refused and stated that “no one from the state was going to take my firearms without due process.”
According to Cottrell, the attempted seizure by New Jersey police stemmed from a new law that NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed. The law makes it easier for police to confiscate guns when someone in the state allegedly poses a threat to themselves or to others. The law is part of a broader statewide effort to make New Jersey’s gun laws even tougher amid the national outcry for more gun control in the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Ultimately, Cottrell was allowed to keep possession of his legally owned firearms. Sergeant First Class Jeff Flynn issued a statement about the Millstone gun possession case and said, “Troopers responded to Mr. Cottrell’s residence in reference to the report of a possible school threat. Based on their investigation, it was determined that Mr. Cottrell’s weapons did not need to be seized.” Cottrell stated that he was able to work out a deal with the officers to remove the guns from his house and keep them outside until the investigation concluded. However, his son was not allowed to return to school and was barred from attending graduation, he said.
Strict Gun Laws in New Jersey
In New Jersey, a person’s firearms permit alongside their firearms can be forfeited for any of the following reasons:
- The person who has been convicted of any crime.
- The owner is deemed a drug-dependent person.
- The owner is considered a habitual drunkard.
- The owner is confined for a mental disorder.
- The owner suffers from a physical or mental disease which would make it unsafe for him to handle a firearm.
- The owner is subject to a restraining order.
- The owner is named on a terrorist watch list.
- The owner poses a public safety threat.
If you have been charged with a gun-related offense or had your firearms confiscated in New Jersey, you need to speak with an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney immediately. Contact the Tormey Law Firm today for help.