Up in arms over gun: Replica rifle has Brooklyn man at odds with cops
Like America's first soldiers at the Battle of Brooklyn, Michael Littlejohn is fighting for his right to bear arms.
The Revolutionary War buff charges the Bloomberg administration with tyranny for trying to seize his handmade flintlock rifle a dead ringer for the weapon once used against the redcoats.
"This is the last legal gun that you can have without registration in New York," Littlejohn said. "And yet Mayor Bloomberg is driven crazy by my flintlock gun - the one that won the American Revolution."
Littlejohn fired the first shot when he hired a Tennessee blacksmith to recreate the vintage rifle. It arrived at his Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, apartment in June - followed quickly by city cops.
Police claim it's illegal for Littlejohn to keep the flintlock without a gun license.
Littlejohn, 50, cites the earliest American patriots as his inspiration while refusing to surrender his firearm or apply for a license.
The social worker is also clinging to a little-known exemption in the city's strict gun laws.
The loophole allows license-free ownership of "antique firearms" defined as rifles that require the bullet and gunpowder to be loaded separately.
Littlejohn's rifle appears to fit the bill.
Loading the weapon, he explains, is a multistep process that takes several pokes with a ramrod and up to a minute to complete.
To fire, the rifle relies on a sharpened piece of flint that produces a spark when the trigger is pulled. That point is moot, Littlejohn says: He doesn't own gunpowder or bullets.
That's not enough to make the NYPD retreat.
The cops visited Littlejohn's apartment and sat down this month with the Tennessee blacksmith who forged the rifle.
The lead detective on the case told Littlejohn's lawyer that he had orders "from higher-ups" to pursue the case, according to an e-mail the lawyer sent to Littlejohn.
Littlejohn's interest in the Revolutionary War dates to his childhood. He grew up playing tag outside the upstate Newburgh house used in 1782-83 as Gen. George Washington's headquarters.
As an adult, he joined in Colonial American reenactments in Virginia and Georgia.
The NYPD learned about Littlejohn's $825 rifle when he left a receipt inside a Staples copy center, prompting a call to the cops.
Cops aren't threatening to arrest Littlejohn yet. Lawyer Joyce David, who represented Littlejohn until it became too expensive, says her ex-client could wind up with a summons.
A police source says the war could end peacefully if Littlejohn applied for a permit with the NYPD handgun license division.
Littlejohn would rather fight. The Brooklynite says he's willing to sue for his rifle rights.