“No one from the state was going to take my firearms without due process,” says Leonard Cottrell, after successfully staving off law enforcement and the courts from confiscating his firearms. Cottrell, an Iraq War veteran, was at work when he received a phone call from his wife. The cops were there, busting in to take his guns away. It all started after a casual conversation his son had at school.
Advertisement - story continues below
Police said their visit was sparked by a conversation that Leonard Cottrell Jr.’s 13-year-old son had had with another student at the school. Cottrell said he was told his son and the other student were discussing security being lax and what they would have to do to escape a school shooting at Millstone Middle School.
The conversation was overheard by another student, who went home and told his parents, and his mother panicked. The mom then contacted the school, which contacted the State Police, according to Cottrell.
The visit from the troopers came around 10 p.m. on June 14, 2018, Cottrell said, a day after Gov. Phil Murphy signed several gun enforcement bills into law.
After several hours, Cottrell said police agreed not to take the guns but to allow him to move them to another location while the investigation continued.
“They had admitted several times that my son made no threat to himself or other students or the school or anything like that,” he said.
Cottrell said he made it very clear to the police that he was “not going to willingly give up my constitutional rights where there’s no justifiable cause, no warrants, no nothing.”
The troopers searched his son’s room and found nothing, Cottrell said.
“To appease everybody, I had my firearms stored someplace else,” he said. “That way, during the course of the investigation, my son doesn’t have access to them and it’s on neutral ground and everything and everybody’s happy.”
“In the Garden State, the usual approach is to confiscate first and ask questions later, and victims of this approach often don’t know their rights. In this case, the victim pushed back and confiscation was avoided — but the circumstances surrounding the incident are outrageous. A student expressing concern over lack of security is not a reason to send police to the student’s home — but it might be a reason to send police to the school to keep students and teachers safe” said Scott L. Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs and a member of the NRA board of directors.
Cottrell, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who served three tours during “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” owns a shotgun and a pistol. He has all the correct permits to own the firearms, he said, and predominately uses the shotgun to hunt.
He said his wife allowed the officers to enter the home, and with her permission, they searched his son’s room — but they did not find any weapons, he said. The officers, he said, didn’t have a warrant but still wanted to take his guns. Cottrell wouldn’t let them.
“No one from the state was going to take my firearms without due process,” he said Thursday.
He said the attempted seizure resulted because of a new law Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law that makes it easier for police to confiscate guns when someone in the state poses a threat to themselves or 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 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Cottrell said the officers “danced around the issue” when he confronted them about the new law.
A New Jersey State Police spokesman declined to answer questions about whether this incident had anything to do with the new gun laws.
In an email, Sgt. First Class Jeff Flynn 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.”
To appease everybody, I had my firearms stored someplace else,” New Jersey gun owner and Army veteran Leonard Cottrell Jr. told New Jersey 101.5 after a June 14 visit from State Police,. “That way, during the course of the investigation, my son doesn’t have access to them and it’s on neutral ground and everything and everybody’s happy.”
Cottrell was recalling state troopers showing up at his door to confiscate firearms after his 13-year-old son was overheard discussing lax school safety with a friend.
Indoctrinated by a pervasive snitch culture — one that never seems to deter the blatantly obvious demonic nutjobs — the eavesdropping student told his parents, who told school administrators, who in turn called the cops. (Note “If you see something, say something” carries risks of its own – if you report the wrong person, you could end up smeared as a “hater.”)
“Cottrell said he made it very clear to the police that he was ‘not going to willingly give up my constitutional rights where there’s no justifiable cause, no warrants, no nothing,’” the report continued. Despite that, his home is now a “gun free zone” and that has been publicized by the media. He has, in fact, willingly ceded those rights, and by his own words in order to make authorities “happy.”
Before judging him for that, consider the environment that is New Jersey. Then consider the overwhelming force the state can bring to bear, and its predisposition to using it, especially if it’s to enforce citizen disarmament. It’s easy to anonymously declare “Molon Labe” on the internet. In meatspace, resistance is more effective when the aggressor doesn’t get to dictate the time and place, especially if that place is your home and you have family inside.
Appeasing gun-grabbers, generally couched as “compromise,” is impossible. It’s like throwing a scrap of flesh to a circling pack of jackals and expecting them to be sated and leave you alone — instead of sensing opportunity and fear, and moving in closer.