Resident James Cap, a quadriplegic after a spinal cord injury in 1979, was granted permission in Superior Court on Nov. 10 to obtain a permit to carry a firearm provided it is locked in a safe when not being used and another licensed person works with him when he uses it.
”I am very happy and elated,” Mr. Cap said of the resolution to the appeal. “It has been a two-and-a-half year wait. I felt discriminated against.”
According to Borough Attorney Francis Linnus, Judge John Pursel, sitting in Somerville, approved the permit so long as the two conditions are met, both of which the Manville Police Department was unable to impose when Mr. Cap first applied for an application — and why he was initially denied, according to police.
Mr. Linnus said under the law, only a judge can impose conditions.
”Mr. Cap was denied the permit because, without the conditions, it could be a safety issue,” Mr. Linnus said. “The Police Department couldn’t legally impose the conditions so the permit was denied. Only a judge could do it.”
The conditions the borough initially had wanted to impose were approved by the court and by consent, Mr. Linnus said.
Mr. Linnus said in order to own a firearm, Mr. Cap must keep it secured in a gun safe only he can open when he is not hunting, traveling with the firearm or in the same room. In addition, Mr. Cap must have another person with a valid permit controlling the firearm since he cannot do it himself.
”The only issue was safety,” Mr. Linnus said. “The borough has been vindicated.”
Mr. Cap first filled out an application for a firearms purchaser identification card in May 2007, but did not receive the rejection until December 2008, said his attorney, Edward Kopelson.
The action in court was taken in response to Mr. Cap’s appeal of the Manville Police Department’s 2008 decision to reject his request for a permit, which Mr. Linnus said was done because the department could not legally impose the conditions.
”The borough is vindicated in the action it took,” he said. “The conditions are there for public safety.”
In using the firearm, Mr. Cap, who cannot hold the firearm on his own, will use apparatus mounted to his wheelchair, which can hold a rifle and a crossbow, and allow him to move it side to side and up and down. The apparatus also has a sip-and-puff control, which is connected to an electronic trigger.
”Of course, someone has to put the rifle on the mount for him,” Mr. Kopelson said. “He clearly needs an assistant to carry the firearm and put it on the wheelchair. He can’t go hunting by himself.”
According to Mr. Kopelson, Mr. Cap, who was a hunter before his accident, discovered the device while searching the Internet, immediately purchased one and went to the Police Department to request a permit to carry a firearm, but eventually was denied.
Although Mr. Cap did receive his permit Nov. 12, Mr. Kopelson said he has an unlawful discrimination suit pending against the borough and Police Department, based on the permit denial. At this point, Mr. Kopelson said, he does not know if the suit that was filed in May 2009 will go before a judge or be settled.
By Audrey Levine, Staff Writer