Technicality in NJ law prevents retired cops from carrying concealed weapon

NJ Police
Picture via the Newark Star-Ledger.

New Jersey’s restrictive and confusing gun laws are preventing some retired law enforcement officers from carrying guns.

John Kotchkowski, 55, and Robert Dunsmuir, 48, a pair of retired officers who worked for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, were rejected in their bid to get concealed carry permits because a law on the books doesn’t specifically name campus police as eligible, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

“There seems to be discrepancy in whether [state] university police are viewed as working for a state agency,” the pair’s attorney Thomas Roughneen told the Star-Ledger.

The law, signed in 1997 by then-Gov. Christie Whitman, allowed for retired police officers to carry weapons to increase public safety but it didn’t specifically include campus police, according to the Star-Ledger.

The intent was to enhance public safety in an increasingly dangerous world. The catalyst was the 1995 murder of John Deventer, a retired Hanover Township police chief, who was shot in Newark’s Fairmount cemetery when he interceded in the carjacking of an elderly couple.

Which leads to Irony No. 1. One of the officers who chased the killers was John Kotchkowski, then a young University Hospital cop.

Kotchkowski, now 55, went on to become a highly decorated University Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey police sergeant. But when he retired in 2011, he was denied a right-to-carry permit.

“It’s made me feel like my whole career was a sham, like they’re saying I wasn’t a real cop,” Kotchkowski told the Star-Ledger.

Kotchkowski appealed the decision but lost even as other retired campus police were successful in their appeals.

The officers believed they were a part of a state agency but the N.J. State Police contend that is not clear in the wording of the law.

“How are UMDNJ police not a state law enforcement agency?” Roughneen rhetorically asked the Star-Ledger. “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.”


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