New Jersey has become one of the gun-grabbiest states in our wonderful union, with Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy proposing massive taxes on firearms and signing one of those now-ubiquitous “red flag” laws that allow guns to be seized in the total absence of due process, among other fun pieces of legislation that thumb their nose at that whole “… shall not be infringed” part of the Second Amendment.
Now, because of a Dec. 5 ruling by the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, any New Jerseyan with a “high-capacity magazine” that holds over 10 rounds would have to turn tit in to the state or destroy it, according to Reason.
Residents of the Garden State were previously limited to 15-round magazines, but a new spate of gun laws passed in June of 2017 and signed by Gov. Murphy reduced that by five.
The law “required owners of ‘large capacity magazines’ (LCMs) to surrender them to the state, render them inoperable, modify them so they cannot hold more than 10 rounds, or sell them to authorized owners (such as retired police officers, who are exempt from the ban) by December 10,” Reason’s Jacob Sullum reported on Dec. 20.
So, how is that working out?
Gun-centric site AmmoLand decided to do a little poking around.
“AmmoLand reached out to several local police departments in New Jersey to see how they plan on enforcing the ban and what the turn in numbers have been? Much like the New Jersey State Police, none of these departments have a concrete plan on how to proactively enforce the ban and none had a single report of magazines turned over.”
While the New Jersey State Police wouldn’t officially comment on how many magazines were turned in, two anonymous sources within the NJSP told AmmoLand “they both do not know of any magazines turned over to their agency and doubted that any were turned in.”
Sullum “also contacted the state police, where Sgt. Jeff Flynn told me they have received ‘zero’ LCMs. Flynn said I should address any other questions about the law to the Attorney General’s Office, which I did. Leland Moore, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said I should talk to the state police.”
“We do not have information on how many LCMs have been received by local police in the hundreds of municipalities across NJ,” Moore said in an email interview, according to Sullum. “That’s not something we track.”
Indeed, it doesn’t seem like the police are terribly interested in enforcing Gov. Murphy’slaw.
AmmoLand’s sources within the New Jersey State Police said they hadn’t received any guidance from the attorney general’s office regarding enforcement of the law and that discussions among law enforcement officers seem to indicate they’ll only invoke the law against individuals charged with other crimes.
Of course, it’s difficult to imagine any state having the resources available to track these magazine owners down, which means that this law does nothing to stop gun crime. If this remains the policy of the state attorney general and the police, charges will only be filed after a crime is committed — which rather negates the point, doesn’t it?
The other possibility, which is equally unappealing, is that it could be used as a bludgeon to trump up charges against someone who committed a minor offense — Sullum even floated a traffic violation — but was otherwise a responsible gun owner. Again, this does nothing to stop gun violence.
It’s worth pointing out, as both writers did, that there’s a lot we don’t know. We don’t know how many of these LCMs were in circulation in New Jersey, although John Crump at Ammoland noted that “(t)he standard magazine for an AR-15 holds 30 rounds. Glock 19s, which is the most popular pistol in the United States, holds 15 rounds.” So, one might assume there are quite a few of them in the Garden State.
We also don’t know how many gun owners destroyed them on their own or were simply unaware of the law. After all, if you’re not up on these things and have a Glock 19 you keep locked away for self protection and maybe take to the range a few times a year, what would you know?
However, it’s safe to say that with not a single confirmed case of an LCM being turned into a police department, at least some of this had to do with gun owners who understand “shall not be infringed” means “shall not be infringed.“