New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- Shortly after the 23rd of February 2021 a youtube video with audio-only started to circulate in the New Jersey firearm-related social media pages. In the video, an impassioned, and a to-the-point speech was delivered to the Freehold New Jersey town council by a citizen that has been waiting on the sidelines for the town to approve his Firearm Identification Card application.
In the state of New Jersey, one must first obtain a Firearm Identification Card (read permission slip) in order to purchase a long gun. Several 2nd Amendment advocates in the state and AmmoLand News tried to make contact with the individual. The person’s plea was also broadcasted in a recent episode of the prominent 2nd Amendment podcast, Gun For Hire Radio.
We finally got a chance to talk with Avi Rachlin, the individual in question, and his story goes from par for course infringement to perhaps bizarre draconian retaliation…
Mr. Rachlin’s story starts out in October 2020 when he applied for a Firearms Identification Card. Per correspondence from Rachlin, it is noted that his references returned their statements on October 24, 2020, Freehold Police Department allegedly received his fingerprints on November 7, 2020 and the state background check was completed on November 11, 2020. Fast forward to January 15, 2021, when Avi took to writing Mayor Cook of Freehold. In his correspondence, Rachlin was following up with the chief executive of the town, after getting no relief from reaching out to the Freehold Police Department.
This timeline is of particular importance, as from November 11th to January 15th, Freehold exhausted the statutory 30 days they have to approve or deny Rachlin’s application.
This story is a common one in the Garden State with many towns and municipalities delaying the issuance of firearm-related paperwork. This problem is so prevalent, the state is now subject to a new lawsuit attacking the permitting scheme/scam as unconstitutional in the Kendrick v. Grewal case. Jurisdictions and towns that have been traditionally hostile towards the Second Amendment are further leaning on the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for not processing firearms licenses.
Rachlin’s situation is not unique in Freehold. Another citizen commenting under a condition of anonymity told AmmoLand News that he has been waiting since November 2020 for his paperwork to be processed. The individual is already a New Jersey gun owner, with an SBI number (in the system), and has a Firearm Identification Card already issued by Freehold Police Department. For this individual, the delay in permitting has now become moot, as he has decided to move out of state to where there are less draconian restrictions on his rights as a gun owner and as a parent.
Not being deterred by several attempts to amicably get an answer to the questions on the delays on his paperwork, Rachlin decided to attend a town council meeting on February 23rd, 2021, the content of the circulated video. In the meeting, he addressed the council about his concerns and charged the town’s leadership with following through with looking into why it is taking so long to process his request.
One of the things that Rachlin thought might be holding up his paperwork was his admission that he sought outpatient care from a therapist about seven years ago, whom he was under their care for about four years. When filling out the paperwork for his Firearm Identification Card, he noted this. The fact that Rachlin saw a mental health professional does not outright disqualify him from firearm ownership.
After the meeting, Avi said he did make contact with the Chief of Police and he was told his application was approved. However a day or two later Rachlin states the Chief retracted his statement and told him he needed to present the department with a doctor’s note indicating he was of sound mental health. Having a report with his former therapist, he returned to them and received a letter which he submitted to Freehold PD, noting there was nothing in his mental health background that should disqualify him from owning a firearm.
Chief George K. Baumann rejected the letter from the same therapist whose care Rachlin was under, stating that he needed to see a “…clinical psychologist.”
In 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for mental health professionals is through the roof. In order to get an appointment with such a physician would require Rachlin to wait many weeks if not longer and pay a hefty price, with one quote coming in at around $2,500.00. The mere fact that the person who delivered care to Rachlin noting he was of sound health should have been enough. Is there something more going on here in this curious case?
Rachlin conducted a records release from the County Adjuster, allegedly the custodian of potential documentation concerning the ineligibility to purchase a firearm due to a mental health issue. The adjuster responded stating that “..THERE IS NO RECORD OF IN THE MONMOUTH COUNTY [NJ] ADJUSTERS OFFICE, BASED ON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED TO MY OFFICE FOR AVI RACHLIN…”
Armed with this information Rachlin returned to Freehold New Jersey Township townhall for another meeting. This was his 2nd time addressing the council and wanted answers yet again.
In closing, Rachlin stated “…If you feel confident that me having an FID Card is a public safety issue, then deny my permit now. Take your name, reputation, and sign on the dotted line next to the rejection box on my application.”
After Rachlin’s 2nd visit to the townhall, they finally listened to him. Shortly after delivering his speech to the council, he received a notice that he is being denied his Firearm Identification Card.
I reached out to Chief Baumann and when asked about Mr. Rachlin’s application he stated
“We are just following the guidelines set forth with New Jersey’s firearm permitting regulations.”
Chief Baumann did state due to confidentiality issues, he cannot really comment on the situation and we need to get the information directly from Mr. Rachlin. I took the opportunity to press Chief Baumann a little more and asked:
Avi did apply for his permit in October and here we are now, with him only getting his denial last week. This is clearly beyond the 30 day statutory obligation you have to approve or deny the paperwork, do you have a comment on that?
Without hesitation, Baumann said “I do not.”
What is or is not going on with Avi Rachlin’s paperwork, the history of his application, and further the status of his denial leaves more questions than answers. Is Rachlin being punished for pushing back against the tyrannical machine of New Jersey anti-freedom politics, embarrassing the council, mayor, and chief of police, or is this a business as usual denial? AmmoLand News does not have any personal connection to Rachlin in order to vouch for him and commenting on his denial would be haphazard. However, this is a developing story that AmmoLand News will continue to follow, as Rachlin intends on appealing his denial through the New Jersey Superior Court.
The one thing that is 100% factual and can be proved is that the Freehold Police Department did not process the paperwork within the time limits set forth in New Jersey law.
At a minimum, they should have to atone for that – especially with Chief Baumann’s “I do not” have a comment on the delay statement.
Is Freehold New Jersey withholding freedom? You can decide on your own.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .