Friday, April 11, 2008

Read It And Weep

Gun enthusiast, 84, avoids jail time

"An 84-year-old man who kept nearly 500 guns, 800 pounds of gunpowder and 75,000 rounds of ammunition at his Ridgefield home pleaded guilty Tuesday to creating a community hazard.

Sherwin Raymond had rejected plea offers since his arrest in 2005 and insisted that his stash of rifles and pistols was nothing more than that of a gun enthusiast.

On Tuesday, however, after jurors were picked for his trial in state Superior Court in Hackensack, Raymond took a plea deal that requires him to serve up to five years' probation.

Instead of getting his guns back, Raymond also agreed to have a dealer sell them and turn over the proceeds.

"I feel it's a practical resolution for Mr. Raymond," Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Marybel Ramirez said. "The state doesn't take any pleasure in prosecuting an elderly man, but if you break the law, you will be prosecuted."

Raymond admitted in court that he kept gunpowder in his garage, where static could have sparked an explosion and a fire in the neighborhood.

"I am pleased that the police did a great job and we were able to save the community from a possibly catastrophic explosion," Ramirez said.

Responding to a series of questions from Ramirez and defense lawyer Richard Gilbert, Raymond also admitted that he possessed a large-capacity magazine that could carry up to 30 bullets. It is illegal under state law to own a firearm magazine that carries more than 15 rounds.

Had he been convicted in a trial, Raymond would have faced up to 10 years in prison.

Raymond, however, was not charged with possession of the guns, most of which were not registered. There is no clear legislation or case law that requires the weapons to be registered, prosecutors said."

The storm troopers did their job, the pig prosecutor did hers, and the good people of New Jersey can sleep well in their beds tonight because this hardened criminal has been taken down.

I'm envious of Mr. Raymond's stash, but certainly not of his choice in places to live. Even though there was a time, long ago in his youth, where New Jersey was free, and home is where the heart is.

Just not the guns.

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