“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” goes the phrase often, and likely erroneously attributed to Thomas Jefferson. It’s most likely an abbreviated version of Ireland’s apparently dreamy John Philpot Curran‘s “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”
Whatever it’s provenance, the phrase is meant as a warning to the citizens of a free state to jealously guard and protect their freedoms against any government encroachment as the natural tendency of government is to slide toward tyranny. The state of New Jersey, bulwark of the American way and whatnot, has a different reading of things.
Lately it seems that it is the power of the state to regulate in absolute terms, with no regard to mitigating factors or mercy, the behavior of those unlucky enough to find themselves within it’s jurisdiction that New Jersey busies itself to jealously protect.
The current threat to our republic on the receiving end of The Garden State’s eternal vigilance is 72 year old retired English teacher, antique collector, and alleged illicit gun owner Gordon Van Gilder.
What is alleged is not whether he’s guilty of carrying a concealed weapon with out a permit. As to that, Van Gilder told National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke, “I did break the law – to my shock.” And according to the state’s archaic gun laws, he is correct. What is alleged is that the object he was carrying, a Queen Anne single shot flintlock pistol manufactured in Belgium circa 1760, would meet any modern definition of a weapon. But for having the antique in his possession, scofflaw Van Gilder is being charged with a second degree felony and faces a minimum of three and a half years if found guilty in a court of law. The maximum sentence is ten years, no doubt a comfort to the 72 year old. Continue reading