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NJ gun laws deny retired officers’ rights to carry

The state statute currently excludes campus officers

By PoliceOne Staff

NEWARK, N.J. — Retired officers are often denied the right to carry due to some confusing legislation, The Star-Ledger reported.

The state statute 2C:39-6 currently lists those eligible for the right to carry as  federal, state, county or municipal officers, sheriff's officers, corrections officers, park police and county prosecutor investigators. It also includes any former “full-time member of a state law enforcement agency.”

In 1997, Gov. Christie Whitman signed a law that permitted retired officers to carry concealed firearms. This was due to demands for increased public safety after the 1995 murder of retired Hanover Township police chief John Deventer.

One of the responding officers who pursued Deventer’s killer was John Kotchkowski. The 55-year-old officer retired in 2011 as a highly decorated police sergeant with the University of Medicine and Dentistry. However, upon his golden years, Kotchkowski found himself denied the right to carry. The reason stated — because he was a campus cop.

“It's made me feel like my whole career was a sham, like they're saying I wasn't a real cop,” John Kotchkowski told the publication.

Attorney Thomas Roughneen, who represents Kotchkowski and 48 other retired officers is helping their make their case.

“How are UMDNJ police not a state law enforcement agency?” Roughneen told the news site. “By that logic, that makes the entire Rutgers police force – which is one of the largest in the state – ineligible. And that flies in the face of the intent of the law, which is to increase public safety."

In addition, Kotchkowski is an active shooter instructor at the Essex County Police Academy, certified by the FBI and Homeland Security. Under the current statute, retired officers must be range-certified twice a year to keep their permit.

“I'm training guys who have a permit when I don't," Kotchkowski told the news site. 

Ironically, 49 other states have reciprocal agreements, so a retired campus officer from another state can carry in New Jersey, but those who spent their careers serving their local campus community cannot.

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