(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Annette Quijano, Gordon Johnson, Jamel Holley and Paul Moriarty sponsored to limit gun magazine capacity to 10 rounds was signed into law today by Gov. Murphy.
“Our nation is in the midst of a gun violence epidemic,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “Now, as we move into this new term with a new governor, we have a real chance to reduce the number of deaths by gun violence and protect our neighborhoods.”
The law (A-2761) bans firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Magazines capable of holding up to 15 rounds of ammunition currently are legal in New Jersey. California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and the District of Columbia all have 10-round limits on ammunition magazines for use with any firearm.
“The data show that a 10-round limit will reduce high-capacity magazines in the hands of criminals, and the time it takes to reload can help people escape or subdue the gunman, as happened in the Gabby Giffords shooting in Tuscan,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Moreover, these limits can save the lives of innocent victims and law enforcement officers confronted by someone wielding a gun. This is just good common sense.”
“During the Gabby Giffords shooting in Arizona, witnesses were able to subdue the gunman when he paused to reload,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Anything we can do make it more difficult to fire dozens of bullets in a short period of time is a good thing. This is a highly effective step we can take to save lives.”
“Law enforcement leaders from across the country have supported 10-round limits on magazine capacity,” said Holley (D-Union). “If law enforcement backs it, and it can improve public safety and save lives, then we should do it. This is gun safety.”
“This is quite simple – it can and will save lives,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “If we can do something reasonable that can save lives, then we should do it.”
Greenwald met with the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013 after their devastating losses. That year he introduced many gun safety bills, including lowering gun magazine capacity. It was vetoed by then-Gov. Chris Christie.
“Meeting the families of Sandy Hook was one of the most moving experiences of my 22 years of public service,” Greenwald said. “For these families, the single most important piece of legislation we could fight for is lowering magazine capacity. I refuse to let these families down, to look them in the eyes and tell them we are powerless – that their loved ones were a tragic but necessary, loss. No loss to gun violence is ever necessary.”
Specifically, the law revises the definition of a “large capacity ammunition magazine” to include any box, drum, tube, or other container capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The bill also designates a semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 10 rounds as a prohibited assault firearm.
Under the law, a person who legally owns a firearm with a fixed magazine capacity holding up to 15 rounds that is incapable of being modified to accommodate less rounds and was purchased on or before the bill’s effective date would be allowed to retain possession of that firearm – provided it is registered with a law enforcement agency.
To register the firearm, a person must produce a valid firearms purchaser identification card, permit to carry a handgun, or permit to purchase a handgun.
The information provided in the registration statement is to include: the name and address of the registrant; the number or numbers on the registrant’s firearms purchaser identification card, permit to carry a handgun, or permit to purchase a handgun; and the make, model, and serial number of the firearm being registered.
An heir or estate of an owner of a registered firearm would have 90 days after the owner’s death to dispose of the firearm.
The law also permits retired police officers authorized to possess and carry a handgun in this state to continue to possess and carry a magazine capable of holding up to 15 rounds.
In addition, the measure exempts from the 10 round limitation those semi-automatic rifles that have an attached tubular magazine and are capable of operating only with .22 caliber rim fire ammunition. This exemption would permit the sale and possession of a popular beginner gun, the Marlin Model 60, often referred to as the Boy Scout gun. These firearms are low caliber and the tubular magazine cannot be quickly reloaded.
The law also exempts large capacity ammunition magazines under the control of a federal firearms license holder and reconfigured to fire blank ammunition for motion pictures, television, or video productions.
The law is effective immediately, but allows for a 180-day grace period to transfer or voluntarily surrender a semi-automatic rifle or magazine that will be unlawful under the law.
A person will also have the option to render a semi-automatic rifle or magazine inoperable or permanently modify a magazine to accept 10 rounds or less.
Under the Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.13:54-1.2), a person may permanently alter a magazine so that it is excluded from the current legal definition of a “large capacity ammunition magazine.” An ammunition magazine, which has been temporarily blocked or modified, as by a piece of wood or a pin, is still considered to be a “large capacity ammunition magazine.”