In December 2018 a law came into effect that stripped New Jersey citizens not only of their Second Amendment right but also violated property rights without compensation. Governor Phil “The Bill of Rights is Above my Paygrade” Murphy probably was as giddy as can be when he signed into law a bill that lowered the amount of rounds a magazine could hold from 15 down to 10. There were only a few options available for people that possessed such items; render them inoperable and destroy them, move them out of the state, have them stored at one of the few approved storage locations in New Jersey for the long haul, permanently alter them to only accept 10 rounds, or they could have turned them into the police.
The law on its face is beyond unconstitutional. For starters, magazines that hold ammunition up to 15 rounds are in common use, so this goes directly against Heller. Heck, magazines that hold up to 30 rounds are in common use, but that is a digression. And second, there was no compensation offered, not even via one of the state’s famously illegal gun buyback programs that they have hosted in the past (there are zero statutes in New Jersey law that allow for a “gun buyback” program, ergo they are all illegal). As soon as the law came into effect, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC) swiftly filed suit.
The gun owning citizens of New Jersey did make their position quite clear to anti-freedom Murphy. Through a FOIA request that AmmoLand News obtained from New Jersey, covering the number of magazines that were turned into the police, that sum amounted to zero:
SGT Kristina Pados of the New Jersey State Police responded to our FOIA request. She confirmed what our sources inside the New Jersey Police told us. The gun owners of New Jersey have surrendered no magazines.
To further add insult to Murphy’s injury, it was reported that New Jersey citizens have been standing by for such a challenge since before the law was enacted:
“Thousands and thousands” of large-capacity magazines are stored currently at GunSitters in Whippany, where gun owners have handed over their large-capacity magazines, taking advantage of the storage option as litigation plays out, Rebels said. Some have turned over more than 100 magazines, which are held in a 3,000-square-foot steel vault.
The case, ANJRPC v. Grewal has been sitting on the sidelines since a Third Circuit appeals decision found the law to be a “reasonable” restriction. That is until April 26th when ANJRPC appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of The United States. This effort is one of many that are flooding to the high court. In light of the justices granting certiorari to NYSRPA v. Corlett, which broke earlier this week, perhaps the chances of more cases involving the Second Amendment will too.
From the petition:
Under recent amendments to New Jersey law, an ordinary law-abiding citizen is prohibited from possessing a firearm magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, even though such magazines are widely owned and come standard issue for handguns and long guns typically owned for self defense. New Jersey’s new law does not stop at banning the purchase of such magazines prospectively; it applies retrospectively to treat any non-compliant magazine as contraband no matter how long, lawfully, or safely it has been possessed. The law is thus unconstitutional twice over. This Court in District of Columbia v. Heller held that the Second Amendment protects arms that are “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes,” 554 U.S. 570, 625 (2008), which concededly describes the magazines here to a T. And dispossessing citizens of lawfully acquired property without just compensation effects an impermissible physical taking.
I reached out to Scott Bach, the Executive Director of ANJRPC and this is what he had to say:
“New Jersey is ground zero for gun-hating bureaucrats, who are more focused on stopping gun rights than gun crime. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear this case, it could herald a new era where Garden State lawmakers are finally forced to respect and follow the Second Amendment.”
As with any legal challenge, there is yet a long road ahead for New Jersey gun owners. For now though, New Jersey citizens shall remain at a disadvantage to the criminal element…”But I committed that crime with a ten round magazine”, so said no criminal ever. The potential for gun owners to gain relief on this matter could be quite high though. To parrot Bach, New Jersey may be forced to respect the Second Amendment, at which time “thousands and thousands” of standard capacity magazines will be returned to their lawful owners.