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NJ criminalizes 10+ round ‘high capacity’ magazines today

An M16 rifle and loaded magazines lay stacked on the flight deck of the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) during small arms qualification training. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin V. Cunningham/U.S. Navy)
December 11, 2018
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New Jersey citizens who possess firearm magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition will be violating state law starting Tuesday.

In June, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a “high capacity” magazine ban that mandates anyone in possession of 10+ round magazines is required to surrender them, transfer them to someone who is licensed to possess them, or modify the magazines to limit their capacity to just 10 rounds, The Washington Free Beacon reported Saturday.

The 180-day deadline set by the law expires Tuesday at midnight, meaning anyone who failed to get rid of their “high capacity” magazines will be violating the law.

Anyone caught in possession of this now-illegal item is subject to arrest and prosecution, and may face up to 18 months imprisonment and fines of up to $10,000.

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Active duty military personnel and retired police officers are granted some exceptions under the law, but the ban applies to veterans, Conservative Review reported.

The law was challenged in court by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. However, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the law was not in violation of the Constitution.

In a two-to-one ruling, the judges decided that the interest of public safety did not impede the Second Amendment, or the Fifth or 14th Amendments, which the plaintiffs had argued.

“New Jersey’s law reasonably fits the State’s interest in public safety and does not unconstitutionally burden the Second Amendment’s right to self-defense in the home,” the court ruled, according to The Hill.

“The law also does not violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause because it does not require gun owners to surrender their magazines but instead allows them to retain modified magazines or register firearms that have magazines that cannot be modified,” the court continued.

“Finally, because retired law enforcement officers have training and experience that makes them different from ordinary citizens, the law’s exemption that permits them to possess magazines that can hold more than ten rounds does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause,” the court concluded.

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While the law is now freely in effect, it’s not clear how authorities plan to handle confiscation of the illegal items.

New Jersey State Police Lt. Theodore Schafer said, “We will enforce the law of the state. That’s our plan.”

Shafer, nor the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, would provide any additional information on confiscation plans or procedures.

Trump-appointed Judge Stephanos Bibas dissented from the ruling on grounds that there was insufficient proof that the law did not violated the Second Amendment.

“The Second Amendment is an equal part of the Bill of Rights,” Bibas wrote. “And the Supreme Court has repeatedly told us not to treat it differently. So, we must apply strict scrutiny to protect people’s core right to defend themselves and their families in their homes. That means holding the government to a demanding burden of proof. Here, the government has offered no concrete evidence that magazine restrictions have saved or will save potential victims. Nor has it made any showing of tailoring.”

Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, said the organization plans to further fight the decision and the law, which he calls unconstitutional.

“This decision is plainly wrong and upholds New Jersey’s unconstitutional law turning one million honest citizens into felons for keeping property obtained legally that could be used for defending their lives. The decision will be further appealed,” Bach said.

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