BY JEN CALANTONE
After a two-and-a-half-year legal battle — and 30 years of longing — Jamie Cap, a Manville resident, is now permitted to have and fire a gun.
Unlike most who are not allowed to purchase firearms, Cap has never been convicted of a felony or diagnosed with mental illness. Instead, the 46-year-old was rendered quadriplegic after being tackled during a high school football game. Cap is physically unable to hold a gun or pull a trigger.
But he missed the thrill of hunting and firing a weapon — something he said he started in his youth. After some research, he found that there was technology that would allow him to experience shooting again.
The only way a person can buy a gun in New Jersey is to have a firearms purchaser identification card, according to state law. Cap first applied for the ID in May 2007. He waited until December 2008, to find that he had been rejected.
"I believe he was denied because they felt, 'What, are you kidding me?' and just rejected him because of the fact he was in a wheelchair," Cap's attorney, Ed Kopelson told the Associated Press. Kopelson is a quadriplegic who specializes in disability cases.
He filed the suit in April 2009 through the Somerset Superior Court, claiming that the borough of Manville police department and Chief Mark Peltack discriminated against him and denied him of his second amendment rights.
But the police chief and the department said they were just erring on the side of caution. New Jersey law says a police chief can deny an ID card application if there was any possible threat to public welfare or safety, The Star-Ledger reported.
With the help of some advanced technology and a friend, Cap can now use a 12-gauge shotgun, equipped with a battery-powered machine that is mounted to his wheelchair. He fires the gun through a breathing tube.
The Superior Court permitted Cap to have the ID card, but only if he keeps his guns in a safe location. The guns must be transported, unloaded and cleaned with someone who has or is eligible for a firearms ID, the AP reported.
"I hope you enjoy the use of your firearm," Superior Court Judge John Pursel told Cap.
Of course, Cap was thrilled with this eventual outcome.
"I'm so happy. When you find you can do something again after 30 years, you can't put a price on that. Some people think it's nothing, but try being paralyzed for 30 years and then come talk to me," he said to the AP.