Retired Assistant Prosecutor/DAG is Not a “Retired Law Enforcement Officer” Entitled to a Gun Permit

In re Denial of Application of Giles W. Casaleggio for a Retired Law Enforcement Officer Handgun Permit, 420 N.J. Super. 121 (App. Div. 2011).  Giles Casaleggio retired from a career in which he served as an Assistant County Prosecutor and as a Deputy Attorney General.  While employed in those capacities, he was allowed to and did carry a handgun, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(a)(4), which permits such persons to carry guns as long as they receive adequate training pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(j).  When he retired, he sought a permit to carry a gun under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(l).  That section permits retired “law enforcement officers” to carry a weapon.  The Law Division denied his application.  The Appellate Division affirmed, in an opinion by Judge Graves.

Though a prosecutor helps enforce the law, the Legislature did not contemplate that they would fall within the definition of retired “law enforcement officers,” the panel concluded.  Judge Graves cited legislative history showing that the Legislature was targeting “retired police officer[s]” instead.  Prosecutors and deputy attorneys general are not “police officers.”  Judge Graves also found persuasive the fact that active prosecutors and DAG’s are permitted to carry guns under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(a)(4) while “these same positions are not enumerated under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(l).”

The panel found its conclusion consistent with “the restrictive nature of the State’s gun control policy.”  Under that policy, exemptions from gun statutes “should be strictly construed to better effectuate the policy of gun control.”

Finally, Judge Graves rejected Casaleggio’s argument that he was entitled to a gun permit under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, 18 U.S.C. §§926B, 926C (“LEOSA”).  N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(l) refers to LEOSA as one basis for a gun permit.  But again looking at legislative history, the panel found that “the reference to LEOSA in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6(l) does not encompass retired assistant prosecutors or deputy attorneys general.  Rather, it is intended to accommodate retired law enforcement officers from out of state who have relocated to New Jersey.”