In an exclusive interview with Personal Liberty Digest™, attorney Evan Nappen, the author of three books and a nationally recognized authority on firearm laws, discussed how New Jersey police and a social worker attempted to gain unConstitutional access to Shawn Moore’s home and ways that Americans can protect themselves in similar circumstances.
Personal Liberty: Do you think what happened to Mr. Moore and his family was the result of the ongoing national demonization of gun owners?
Nappen: Really, what is going on now is a culture clash. Not that many years ago, a young boy having a .22 rifle wouldn’t have been considered a big deal by anyone.
Could you give us an idea of what you advised Mr. Moore to do and what other Americans should do if they find themselves in a similar situation?
I told him, and what I would tell your readers, is that you have rights. On the back of my business cards I have an acronym that is a good one to remember any time you are confronted by the police: SAC. “S” stands for “silent”— you have 5th Amendment protections that mean you do not have to give any kind of statement to police. Next, “A” stands for “ask”: If the police are holding you in any way or demanding a statement, ask for an attorney immediately. The “C” stands for “consent”: Simply, do not consent to anything without the permission of your attorney.
In Moore’s situation, it was pretty simple: They [police and DYFS] had no warrant, so they had no right to enter the house. One of the most precious protections in the 4th Amendment is that of the home. Do not consent to letting police enter your home without a warrant.
There are some exceptions to this, like if police were involved in hot pursuit and a suspect entered a house. But that doesn’t apply here.
What might have happened if Mr. Moore had been less knowledgeable of his rights and had let the police in?
Well, once you let the camel’s nose in, who knows what they may try to contrive.
People often say, “Well, if you have nothing to hide.” But that’s just not how it works. We have due process in this country and it is not the obligation of the citizen to justify why the government doesn’t have the right to search his home. Rather, the government is charged with justifying why a search is necessary and obtaining the proper warrant.
One of the things they said they needed to do was to look at the guns in Moore’s safe and make sure they are properly registered; they told me this on the phone that night. Well, in New Jersey there is no gun registration requirement that would apply.
If he had let them do as they wished, it wouldn’t have surprised me for him to have had all of his guns confiscated for “safekeeping” — whatever that means — and we’d be fighting now to get them back.
Do you think the ordeal would’ve happened if the boy had been holding a gun that wasn’t of the “scary” black variety?
I can’t speculate as to whether this anonymous concerned citizen would have made the same call if the gun had a brown stock. But I do think we’ve gotten to a point where common sense is uncommon.
What is your opinion of the gun laws in New Jersey?
I think it is the most anti-gun State. If not the most, it ranks right alongside States like California that have extremely strict gun laws.
But there are no laws on the books barring people under the age of 18 from being involved in shooting sports under adult supervision?
Here’s the deal: As long as you’re under the supervision of a parent or guardian, you’re good to go shooting and hunting in New Jersey. So you’re right, there are no laws barring parents from teaching their children to be safe and responsible gun owners.
Practicing law for more than two decades, Nappen has dedicated his life to fighting for gun rights and honest sportsmen. He is the author of The New Jersey Gun Law Guide; Nappen II: New Jersey Gun, Knife, and Weapon Law; Nappen On New Jersey Gun Law; and The Declaration. He has as also penned numerous articles appearing in American Handgunner Magazine, Blue Book of Gun Values, NSSF Range Report, Tactical Gear Magazine, American Gunsmith Magazine, The New Gun Week, BLADE Magazine, Sporting Knives, Knives Annual, and Harper’s Magazine. Between writing books and magazine articles, the attorney wrote and produced the DVD “Gun Control – Out Of Control: How Gun Laws Make Honest Citizens Criminals.” Visit his website here.