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Guns returned to man who pleaded to sub-felony crime

Some ill-conceived comments by a former airport worker about shooting President Obama led to the man serving 30 days in jail and a ruling that he had to give up his collection of 70 guns. But the court of appeals in the man's home state recently ruled that there was no legal reason to seize the man's collection and that he was not a threat to the president.

The man worked as a security guard at a New Jersey airport in 2009. The day before Obama was scheduled to land at the airport for a visit, the man was overheard remarking that it would be easy to shoot the president and making racist comments.

He was charged with making terroristic threats and weapons crimes, but later agreed to plead guilty to harassment and was incarcerated for 30 days.

As in Pennsylvania, New Jersey residents convicted of a felony are not allowed to possess firearms. The man in this case is an avid hunter who owned 70 guns, all of which were legally purchased for which he had the proper permits. But the harassment charge to which the man pleaded guilty is not a felony.

Still, a judge ruled in 2010 that the man must give up his gun collection, citing terrorism concerns in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "We live in a very different time," he judge wrote. "We don't engage in certain conduct involving words or acts that can be interpreted as threats to our elected officials."

The man appealed, and on May 22 the appellate court reversed the ruling. The panel of judges noted that two mental health professionals found that the man was not a threat to Obama or any other elected officials. They ordered that the man have his guns returned to him.

Source: Huffington Post, "New Jersey Man Accused Of Talking About Shooting Obama Can Get Guns Back," May 22, 2012

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