Saturday, December 22, 2018

New Jersey Law Reverses Ban on Tube Fed .22 Rifles

On June 13, 2018, the New Jersey Legislature ratcheted down its already dubious ban on standard capacity magazines of more than 15 rounds. The new infringement banned possession of standard capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds. The law was immediately challenged in court.

On 5 December, 2018, a three judge panel of the Third Circuit ruled the law was Constitutional, because the Second Amendment is a second rate right in the Bill of Rights.

The previous law in New Jersey had banned semi-auto .22 rimfire rifles with tubular magazines that held more than 15 rounds.  It was enacted in 1990.

The 1990 law effectively banned numbers of common .22 rimfire hunting rifles in New Jersey. Those included many Marlin model 60 versions, .22 short versions of the Browning semi-auto, Remington 552 rifles, Remington 550 rifles, and any other .22 rimfire with a tubular magazine that holds more than 15 rounds of .22 ammunition.

The law was not a paper tiger. In 1993, Joseph Pelleteri had one of the Marlin .22 rifles that he had won in a contest at a police department. The magazine held 17 rounds of .22 Long Rifle. He was convicted of illegal possession of an assault weapon. He appealed. The appeals court upheld his conviction.
The Judge presiding over his case refused to even inform the jury that Mr. Pelleteri claimed he never read the owners manual and had no idea that the rifle was subject to the "assault firearms" ban and the appellate division affirmed the decision: "Defendant's failure to inspect the weapon or read the owner's manual to determine whether it fell within the statutory definition was unreasonable as a matter of law. We find no error in the trial judge's refusal to submit the issue to the jury."

In 2018, banning .22 rifles with tubular magazines that held over 10 rounds would turn huge numbers of owners of .22 rifles into felons, overnight. It never bothered the New Jersey legislature before.

Someone with a little bit of knowledge managed to insert a change in the law that makes sense.

Instead of continuing the ban on .22 rimfire semi-autos that can hold 15 rounds or more, they removed the magazine limit for .22 rimfire semi-autos with tubular magazines. Here is the new law. From (bold added):

(4) A semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding [15] 10 rounds. “ Assault firearm” shall not include a semi-automatic rifle which has an attached tubular device and which is capable of operating only with .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.
 y.  "Large capacity ammunition magazine" means a box, drum, tube or other container which is capable of holding more than [15] 10 rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously and directly therefrom into a semi-automatic firearm. The term shall not include an attached tubular device which is capable of holding only .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.

The law effectively repealed the 1990 ban on numerous .22 sporting rifles.

It is too late for Mr. Pelleteri and others. They won't get back their lost freedom, tens of thousands in legal costs, or their right to keep and bear arms. For 28 years, from 1990 to 2018, gun owners in New Jersey have been victimized by a silly law passed by an ignorant legislature.

The current law is being appealed to the Supreme Court. There is a small chance the court will take the case (grant certiorari).

If they do, there is a good chance they will rule the whole massive infringements of the New Jersey magazine bans as unconstitutional.

That is what should happen. In the last ten years, since the McDonald decision, the Supreme Court has declined to grant review to at least 88 Second Amendment cases, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.  The Court only accepts about 80 cases each year, about one percent of the cases filed for Supreme Court review.

Maybe the Court will grant a writ of certiorari for the New Jersey case. It is not the way to bet.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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