Garden State Gun Control Tyranny Imposed on Citizens Beyond their Borders

Dustin Reininger
Dustin Reininger


By Jeff Knox

Manassas, VA, -( Dustin Reininger is serving a five-year sentence with a three-year minimum before he's eligible for parole. His crime? Pulling off the highway to get some rest during a long drive.

Reininger, a veteran of both the Army and the Air Force, and a former police officer, was moving from Maine back to Texas, but only made it as far as New Jersey. He got tired and parked behind a building in Readington Township, New Jersey, . Had he held out for another 20 minutes, there wouldn’t be a story about Dustin Reininger because he wouldn’t have had a problem in Pennsylvania, but he was tired so he stopped in New Jersey.

Police found him asleep in his SUV early that morning. Reininger just wanted to move on down the road, but officers thought something in the back seat looked like a gun case and considered that probable cause for a search. They found several rifles, shotguns, and handguns, as well as hollow point bullets, and a “standard-capacity” magazine.

Of course, all of that is perfectly legal in Maine and in Texas – or even 24 miles up the road in Pennsylvania – but it’s not legal in New Jersey without a permit. Federal law provides safe passage for someone transporting guns through a restrictive jurisdiction, but the jury didn’t get to hear about that law. An appeals court panel said that law didn’t apply because it specifies that the guns should be locked in the trunk, and Reininger’s SUV didn’t have a trunk.

They also ruled that officers were justified in searching Reininger’s car because they recognized the gun cases as evidence of a crime. The case could go to the State Supreme Court, but I wouldn’t make any bets on the chances of a new trial.

Dustin Reininger’s life has been destroyed simply because he innocently possessed his legally owned guns in the wrong place at the wrong time. A minimum of 3 years in a New Jersey prison is no cake walk. Reininger will, for the rest of his life, have to mark “Yes” on job applications asking if he’s ever been convicted of a felony, and he is barred from ever owning firearms again. So much for his career in law enforcement.

This is what gun control laws do. They turn innocent people into criminals, destroying lives, while protecting no one.

A spokesman for the NJ Attorney General’s office told the AP that the office was “gratified that the court accepted our arguments that none of the issues had any legal merit, or provided a basis to upset the defendant's conviction.”

It doesn’t matter to the police or the politicians or the Attorney General that this guy wasn’t hurting anyone, or that he wasn’t planning to hurt anyone. All that matters to them is that they caught and convicted someone who was in technical violation of their hoplophobic gun laws. And unfortunately, this is an attitude that is prevalent in too many police departments and AG’s offices around the country.

Reininger’s story is not unique, it just happens to be a recent, and particularly egregious, example of something we’ve been seeing routinely for over 40 years.

The other side of the coin is just as bad. While gun laws routinely ensnare the innocent, they are just as routinely dismissed in prosecuting serious career criminals. Some gun laws can’t even be enforced against criminals. For instance, a convicted felon cannot be prosecuted for failing to register his illegal weapon because doing so would be self-incriminating. So we end up with serious, violent criminals released back on the street, while harmless people like Dustin Reininger are zealously prosecuted for technical violations – and the prosecution is “gratified.”

The stories of people unjustly prosecuted – and persecuted – in the name of gun control would fill a book. The history is clear; no matter how innocuous or “common sense” a gun law might seem, once it goes into force it is inevitably used to harass and abuse gun owners.

That’s just one of the reasons gun owners opposed the recent Manchin-Toomey proposal to extend background checks to private sales. Among the very troubling provisions in that proposal, the most obvious danger is the requirement that even transactions involving concealed carry permit holders – who are exempt from background checks, in most states, – would have been required to go through a dealer. The only reason to do that is to create a permanent record of the transaction – registration – something gun owners oppose for very good reasons.

Gun control is not about guns, it’s about control. History shows that gun laws always end up being used to harass and persecute regular gun owners. Gun owners have every reason to expect that any law that can be used to abuse them will be used to abuse them.

Are gun owners paranoid because we believe gun control laws threaten us?

Dustin Reininger is serving a five-year sentence with a three-year minimum before he's eligible for parole because he pulled off the highway to get some rest during a long drive. If we are paranoid, it’s because we need to be.

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The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit:

  • 40 thoughts on “Garden State Gun Control Tyranny Imposed on Citizens Beyond their Borders

    1. I will never drive through or purchase anything from an anti gun state. Until the voters in New Jersey rid themselves of the Weinberg, Lautenberg. Barney Frank type Marxist scum, they should be boycotted at all levels.

    2. The leftist media sucks, but so does one that leaves out several known facts. Like the loaded gun in his glove box, him not going to his own trial even though he knew when and where it would be, and also the new charges he picked up in Texas when he was apprehended by lying about being out on bail.

    3. Yeah… I’m certainly NOT an apologist for the NJ Police Corporation, but I’m pretty certain there’s a Paul Harvey here… What’s the rest of the story Mr. Knox…

    4. So what if he had 23 guns? He was moving. It is not legal in the USA to own an unlimited number of guns legally. So how many guns he had is a moot point here. Sleeping in a car in the middle of a relatively poor economic time doesn’t make someone a criminal either.

    5. Other than making an example of a law abiding citizen what kind of justice is this and how does it serve to protect the people of the state of New Jersey?

    6. I remain greatful that I live in Texas. Nothing against the people of NJ, but why do they tolerate such a tyrannical state government? Screw the bastards.

    7. This state sucks for gun owners. We make up 12% of the population but the recipient class drowns our voices out. The NRA does little for us here, but the state affiliate fights for us. I think we need to mobilize gun owners from both NJ and out of state because the cancer spreads.

    8. Another victory for the “Criminal Justice Complex”. Another job in Law Enforcement: two million imprisoned and counting; jail-keepers of the world.

    9. Since his vehicle did not have a trunk, this would make his gun case the trunk. You can’t put it in the trunk if it doesn’t have one. Sounds like a case that could be thrown out as he did everything he could to follow the law. He couldn’t invent a trunk.

    10. This is such a stupid cop story. The only thing I can figure out is that somehow Bloomberg closed all the donut shops in Jersey!

    11. So as far as the amount of weapons and as the press so often describes as an “arsenal”; just where in our Constitution and Bill of Rights does it spell out the limit on our 2nd Amend. right to own as many and the type of firearms… dosen’t. An just how is a law abiding citizen supposed to move these legal weapons from Maine to Texas? I hope someone will come forward with the resources to take this to the Supreme Court of the U.S. to squash these criminal Jersey zealots.

    12. fkUthatsmyname, according to the supreme court a cops job is not even to protect citizens but only to enforce laws. Since he was a police officer I wonder how many peoples lives, families and careers he destroyed while enforcing “for profit only” laws. That’s why most police forces only hire people straight out of college with average to below average intelligence and no life experience what so ever that are easily brainwashed into enforcing bogus laws. Karma always seems to make its way back around.

    13. @ Larry, are you in more information than everyone else on this case as it does not mention anything about the amount of weapons found and there location to his availability other than they were in a case. It also did not mention anything about a hand gun being loaded but if he registered in another state then I could understand it being loaded. On a second subject you stated they did have a warrant, could you please advise as to where the warrant was issued from and if possible, by whom was it issued.

    14. Hey fkUthatsmyname, according to the supreme court a cops only job is to enforce laws. Not even protect citizens, just enforce laws. This guy was a police officer and I’m betting he has ruined quite a few lives enforcing “for profit only” laws himself. Karma is a bitch.

    15. I was stationed in New Jersey, once upon a time, while serving in the USAF. I was happy to leave there, and have no desire to ever go back. In fact, there isn’t an amount of money that could be waved at me to get me to go back. I’d rather live as a poor man in a Free State than to live as a rich man in New Jersey.

    16. Bill, After he was detained because he said he had no guns yet they saw at least one on the seat, his vehicle was impounded. From the report:

      “After the vehicle was towed to headquarters, police got a search warrant and discovered 23 rifles, five of which are classified as assault rifles, and three handguns, one of which was loaded, as well as numerous magazines and ammunition.”

    17. Just doesn’t seem to jive, as the story was told. I am a gun owner and user, but I am tired of half stories and inaccurate information coming from both sides of the issue. I am 66 years old and have had guns since age 10, shooting and hunting used to be enjoyable to me. Stop the darn paranoia on both sides. If restrictive laws were passed vote don’t run around like a chicken with your head chopped off. I am pretty sure liberals will be looking for jobs soon for a variety of reasons.

    18. @Larry n Lisa: No they did not have a warrant, read the story. They used probable cause since they claim to have spotted gun cases in the back seat. Their is a difference between probable cause and actually waiting for a warrant.

    19. “….was moving from Maine back to Texas”
      This is exactly why good folks moved to Texas and are moving here by the thousands every week. We don’t make laws to catch and punish good folks. We arrest, convict and severely punish bad guys. And we execute the extremely bad guys. So when you have had enough of your Jersey thugs, Chicago mob, D.C. criminals, L.A. La Raza racist drug gangs just pack up and hang your signs “Gone To Texas” like Sam Houston, William Travis, and David Crockett. And……..
      ….WE DO REMEMBER THE ALAMO and the tyranny of dictatorship government you patriots have put in power.

    20. Eddie Buchanan- It is absolutely NOT the job of the police to enforce heinous laws regardless who is “elected”. It IS their SWORN duty to uphold the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic; and this, sir, is in absolute contradiction with the 2nd amendment. I am glad to see you would resign before enforcing such a law, and I know several ex-LEO that have done just that. And I salute them and respect the integrity they have shown by doing so. This whole thing has gone too far. They need to rev up the gun laws, because it’s obvious to me and every other REAL thinking American Patriot that they aren’t after the criminal element at all- WE are all staring down the barrel of the biggest war machine in the history of the world. If you or someone you know is a cop, how about a friendly reminder that the oath they took upon themselves isn’t some ceremonial BS, it is a matter of freedom for them, for us, and for everyone.

    21. OK Sure he’s all cleaned up nice here but he didn’t ‘just stop for a nap’. He had 23 long guns, 3 pistols (one loaded) and a lot of ammo in his vehicle. He lied to police when they first asked him but then they saw some within reach on the back seat! Were he truly responsible all guns would have been locked, cased, covered, and out of reach. He also took his nap behind a BANK (not in a rest area, WalMart, etc.) How to draw attention to yourself! He also has been arrested for violence and threats against his wife. Don’t get me wrong, I agree these laws are used often against the wrong people but this guy isn’t who you’d put on your ‘responsible gun owners’ poster.

    22. I am just outraged!!! this man is a servant of our country; a mitiltary man AND a law enforcement agent. For him to be treated like a criminal and a terrorist simply baffles and disturbs my patriotic essence… our politicians should be ashamed of themselves for this disastrous treatment of this citizen; then we treat guys like the BOSTON BOMBERS to a military funeral and his brother is tried as a citizen when HE is actually a terrorist!!!
      this is DUMBFOUNDING!!!

    23. These New Jersey NAZIS MUST BE REMOVED!
      Until they are, I suggest everyone that can, leave and spread the word to boycott New Jersey and all it’s commerce. The only thing these fascists will understand is loss of business and tax revenue!

    24. I find two person’s of neglegence here. One with the person telling the story by playing on sympathy of the public with his poor me slant on a story of neglegence and the other person by not being a responcible person and knowing the laws of each state he was passing through. He could have had trigger locks on the weapons and had the weapons in one locked container or he could have gone to a gun shop or dealer and had them ship all his weapons to him at his new address. (a dealer or gun shop owner can do this) or the dealer could have shipped his ammunition.
      I kived in N.J. and have traveled through that state for 60 plus years and never had problems with the law when I did my home work and followed each states law.

    25. My only question is who was this man’s lawyer and why did the lawyer lose this case. As a proud NRA member, I would like to see some of our yearly dues set aside in a legal fund. To not only defend victims like this, but counter sue for millions. That’s about the only way we are going to stop this harassment. With over 5 million members strong, surely the NRA can afford it.

    26. James, why are you attacking the police for enforcing laws made by politicians elected by the people? And your room temperature comment makes no sense. Most people who shoot cops have something major to hide and traffic enforcement is a very effective means of crime prevention. Besides, it’s the officer’s job to enforce both heinous crimes and not so heinous crimes.

    27. When are people of New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Californication, and other states going to rise up against tyranny and either vote or force these socialist communists out of office? People can organize a flash mob dance, surely they can organize a rebellion.

    28. To be clear, a concealed carry permit holder in Florida does have to go through a background check on firearms purchased from an FFL. Private sales do not require a background check in Florida.

    29. I can relate. I was put through the same thing in 2003 in The PRNJ. They ruined my life. In 2014 I will be able to get it expunged. My crime. Possession of a hazardous controlled substance. A box of ammunition.

    30. Take a look at this “convict’s” face. I’m sure you will see just the same as I did that he is a man who MUST be not only watched, but STOPPED. And, boy! Are’nt the policemen proud! What horrible dangers they must have encountered appoaching, overpowering and apphrending such a Big Al Capone-type, ex-military MAN.
      Is is any wonder that from time to time a policeman, approaching a person who they have just stopped for rolling through a semi-rural stop light, or some other hienious crime, is instantly brought to room temperature? I’m NOT advicating that that be done…just pointing out one of the reasons for it’s occurrence.
      And, they we have the super sharp law school grad…who is not bright enough to get hired by an established law firm…who shows the Court he was “gratified” by his own incompetence and in spite of it “won” the case and was instrumental in removing this monumental threat to society from the streets of rural Reininger TOWNSHIP, New Jersey. Well done, “boys”…and I DO emphasize BOYS.

    31. I sm so glad I moved out of that cess pit in 2007 when I did. On one occasion I had to meet with the chief of police in Hackensack, even though I had purchased other firearms, to justify my purchase. Fortunately, I had ANJRPC to guide me, along with some other good firearm owning folk, and challenged his questioning me. I know how Reininger felt though. As I was leaving NJ, I had quite a number of firearms in the back of my SUV and was praying to make it to the PA border. I knew if I could just make it there, I’d be home free, even though everything I owned was NJ legal. (Just didn’t want the hassle or to bother my friends.) Now, I’m in TX and loving it. I can shoot in George Bush Park (Houston) and it’s NORMAL!

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