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Here’s how NJ residents are hiding thousands of banned gun magazines instead of turning them in

From left to right: Mini-30 magazine [20 round], AK-47 magazine [30 round], SKS stripper clip [10 round] with alternating Wolf and Silver Bear ammunition, and SKS detachable magazine [30 round]. (Public Domain Pictures/Released)
September 08, 2019

New Jersey’s “large-capacity” magazine ban hasn’t resulted in lawmakers’ desired effect as no magazines have been turned over and the state’s residents are reportedly hiding the banned magazines.

When the magazine ban went into effect in December of last year, state officials encouraged individuals to hand in their magazines, but residents have taken to stashing them in a massive vault instead of handing them in, according to NJ.com.

A New Jersey State Police spokesman told NJ.com that not a single large-capacity magazine has been turned in in the nine months the law has been in effect.

The law, which bans magazines with more than a 10-round capacity, does permit owners of the banned magazines to hand them over to law enforcement, modify them to only hold the permitted number of rounds, sell them to authorized owners or store them with an authorized company.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the magazines had to be banned, claiming they are used “disproportionately used in mass shootings.”

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The law instates penalties for up to a $10,000 and an up to 18 months in prison on individuals found in possession of the banned magazines.

According to Eric Rebels, a local gun-rights activist, some gun owners have opted to bury their magazines in their backyard or set them behind sheetrock in their garages, despite the risk from these penalties.

Rebels said owners have also turned to his business, GunSitters, a firearms storage company that is permitted by the law to store the otherwise banned magazines.

“Thousands and thousands,” of the banned magazines have been brought to the company, based in Whippany, according to Rebels. The company charges $1.25 a month per magazine.

Theresa Napolitano, an attorney who has stored several magazines with the business told NJ.com she resented the law, but saw an alternative that didn’t put her at odds with the law.

As a single mother, Napolitano said she feel’s safer having them at home. “I want to follow the law, even though I don’t agree with it,” she said.

The law is also facing challenges from local gun rights organizations.

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Scott Bach, the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs which is challenging the law, said he understands why no owners have turned over the banned items.

“Why would you turn in property you paid money for when a government has banned it when there is a lawsuit challenging,” Bach said, acknowledging the magazine owners would still likely have to wait at least a few years before being able to possess the magazines again.

Federal judges have already struck down appeals against similar magazine bans in the past, but Bach said his organization is prepared to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs’ legal efforts are funded in-part by around 20 percent of proceeds from GunSitter’s storage fees.

Rebels said his business will give customers the option to modify or sell their magazines if the lawsuit fails to stop the ban.

It remains to be seen if owners who have opted to hide their magazines will eventually turn them over if the ban remains in place.