New Jersey's Ammo Law Would Destroy Legacies To Go After Chris Christie

Some of the fondest memories I have of my teen years were the weekends I’d spend at my friend Randy’s house, and it wasn’t just because his mom fed us chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast.

Randy’s family lived on a farm perched on Highway 43 south of Greenville, NC. Behind the old farmhouse there were acres of farmland, intersected with blocks of hardwood forest that did a pretty good imitation of a jungle, along with numerous drainage canals and creeks.

Randy’s father would give us a brick of .22LR (500 rounds) and send us out for the day, and we’d go out to plink dirt clods, rats, tree stumps, and other targets of opportunity. My memories are beginning to fade a bit, but I do distinctly remember that one of the rifles we used was a beautiful specimen of a Belgian Browning SA-22.

Browning SA-22 Grade Iv
Browning SA-22

Though I haven’t fired one since the 1980s, the timeless design first manufactured in 1914 remains one of my all-time favorite firearms. They’re also a favorite of collectors as well, with variants of the Belgian-made rifles going for thousands of dollars.

It is also effectively an “assault weapon” according to New Jersey’s borderline-insane politicians.

A legal restriction on the number of cartridges a gun can hold, a proposal that has bounced around the State House for more than a year, has just one hurdle left before it lands on Governor Christie’s desk.

A Senate committee cleared the bill Monday after a hearing that saw gun control supporters and opponents of firearm restrictions make the same emotional arguments they’ve used since the debate over magazine capacity restrictions began.

But the politics behind the bill have shifted, following the changing priorities of the state’s top lawmakers.

Christie, who is positioning himself for a presidential run in 2016 and has boasted that he never has to face New Jersey voters again, is noncommittal on the magazine limit. But he faces intense pressure from firearm supporters around the country – including in key primary states like Iowa – to reject any new gun restrictions.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, meanwhile, has done an about-face on the measure. When some Democrats first pushed it last year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, Sweeney refused to post the bill for a vote. But after he won reelection in November, Sweeney met with the parents of Sandy Hook victims and became a staunch supporter of the measure. Sweeney is one of several Democrats eyeing a run for governor in 2017.

If it becomes law, the bill would mean that gun magazines in New Jersey could hold only 10 rounds of ammunition, down from the current 15-round limit. It’s a restriction that supporters say will help save lives in mass shootings by forcing attackers to change magazines more frequently, giving people more time to escape. Opponents argue it’s tantamount to confiscation of their weapons.

As PolitickerNJ notes:

This bill (S-993) would reduce the lawful maximum capacity of ammunition magazines in New Jersey to 10 rounds. It would also designate a semiautomatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 10 rounds as a prohibited firearm.

Yes, this law was specifically—if not vindictively—crafted to criminalize the ownership of classic tube-fed sporting rifles used by generations of New Jerseyians who have learned to shoot with these rimfire .22s, and who hunted squirrels and rabbits with them, and sometimes passed the same rifle down from great-grandfather, to grandfather, to son, to grandson.

Because of this poorly written, (or perhaps intentionally spiteful) legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate President Pro Tempore Nia H. Gill, this legacy is threatened with being terminated, and these firearms are to be considered contraband under a blatantly ex post facto law. This would seem to be a clear violation of clause 1 of Article ISection 10 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads:

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

New Jersey’s spiteful anti-gun politicians simply don’t seem to care that their law is unconstitutional.

New Jersey’s vindictive anti-liberty politicians don’t care that they are destroying legacies, or memories, or that the firearms they are banning are rarely, if ever used in any sort of crime. Nor do they care in the slightest that these classic firearms cannot remotely be considered “assault weapons” by even their twisted definitions that warp reality itself into unrecognizable shapes.

No, they mean to ban the Browning SA-22, because it was designed in 1914 to have an 11-round magazine.

Likewise, these politicians intend to make similar rifle, the Marlin/Glenfield Model 60, a crime to own, even if you’ve owned it and used it legally for decades.

The Model 60 has been in continuous production since 1960, and more than 11 million of these made in the past 64 years. It is said to be the most commonly-owned rifle of its kind in the world. The 17-14-round capacity of the slow-to-load tube-fed magazine apparently makes it the weapon of choice for terrorists and mass murderers in the minds of New Jersey’s legislative bullies.

marlin model 60
Marlin Model 60

The Remington 552, manufactured since President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration, is likewise targeted by the poorly written, vindictive, and unconstitutional law that targets sportsmen, hunters, target shooters and families attempting to pass along a cherished heritage.

The “I like Ike”-era rifle has manufactured for 67 years with a tube-fed magazine that holds 15 .22LR cartridges.

Remington 552
Remington 552

The worst part about the bill is that even the legislators proposing the bill know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it won’t save any lives. Criminals rarely use rifles of any time for crimes, much less tube-fed rimfire classics such as these.

* * *

An honest politician (if there ever was such a thing) going by crime data would recognize the fact that magazine capacit iys rarely an issue in any sort of gun crime, where the average number of shots (by criminals or police) is just several rounds with officers firing about 3.6 rounds, and criminals firing 3 rounds. Magazine capacity is simply not an issue in most kinds of shooting, including most mass shootings.

While some of the anti-gun Sandy Hook Elementary parents have exploited the tragedy to attack the civil rights of gun owners across the country, the unquestionable reality of the matter is that Adam Lanza’s rampage would have been just as deadly with a firearm using 10-round magazines, eight-round en-bloc clips, or a 5-round stripper clips. Frankly, he might have killed as many with single-shot rifle.  The sad reality is that Lanza had more than five agonizing minutes to target two classrooms of defenseless children and teachers. He had plenty of time, and swapped out magazines after expending just some of them.

Dropping New Jersey’s magazine capacity limit would have made no difference in a Sandy Hook-type attack, just as it wouldn’t have made a difference at Virginia Tech, where Seung-Hui Cho carried out an even more deadly attack with two pistols. One pistol used 15 round magazines, the current New Jersey capacity limit.  The other used magazines with a capacity of ten rounds, the proposed “new” limit.

sweeney gill weinburg
(Left to right) New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney,  Senate President Pro Tempore Nia H. Gill, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg

Perhaps the worse part of this travesty of justice is that there are indications that the proposed legislation has nothing at all to do with stopping crime or, saving lives, but everything to do with the worse kind of base, crass party politics that have become the norm in this nation.

New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, is thought to be eyeing a 2016 Presidential campaign.

New Jersey’s disreputable Democratic trio of Sweeney, Weinberg, and Gill are thought to have pushed this law in order to put it on Christie’s desk as a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” choice.

Christie will have the choice of either signing it, and earning the displeasure of most gun owners in the Republican primaries,  or vetoing it, where the decision would be used against him by the Democrat nominee (and a complicit mainstream media) in the general election if he should emerge from the Republican primaries as the nominee.

The Democratic Party fears that if Christie emerges from the primary process as the Republican nominee, that he   a very strong contender for the votes of independents and moderates that Democrats are counting on to carry their eventual nominee into the White House in 2016.

This legislation isn’t about stopping the next mass shooting.

It’s all about stopping Chris Christie.