Now that it has passed the New Jersey Assembly, a new law intended to restrict the rights of gun owners heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie. It’s being billed as legislation to “restrict magazine size” in the Garden State.
The New Jersey state Assembly on Thursday sent Governor Chris Christie a gun control bill that would limit the capacity of gun ammunition magazines, but it was unclear whether the Republican governor would sign the measure into law…
The bill, approved in the Assembly by a 44-34 vote, would cut the maximum capacity of gun magazines to 10 from 15.
Gun control groups say it could save lives.
“No law abiding citizen needs 15-round magazines,” said Bryan Miller, executive director of the anti-violence group Heeding God’s Call.
As usual, you have to read the details of the bill to find out precisely how bad it is. (Unless you’re Nancy Pelosi, of course.) Even if you agree with the premise that limiting the magazine capacity of weapons will somehow improve matters – and I don’t – the effect of this bill would be far more reaching. Proponents would have you picturing things like massive, extended, banana shaped magazines protruding from the butt of Dirty Harry size hand cannons or drum shaped, street sweeper shotgun feeds. But the truth of the matter is that such a law would reach far, far deeper into the homes of many law abiding citizens.
The gun ban that has gone to New Jersey Governor Christie for signature has been described as a “gun magazine restriction“, but it bans numerous common sport and hunting rifles. The ban has no exemption for rifles with fixed magazines, including most common .22 rimfire rifles that are used for sport and small game hunting…and almost never used in crimes. Assembly Bill 2006 bans rifles that meet this definition: (4) A semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding  10 rounds . . .
The bracket and underline show the existing and proposed laws. There are no exemptions for grandfathering. Anyone who possesses such rifles after the ban goes into effect will be guilty of a felony. This has already happened at least once, when the owner of a .22 Marlin that he won at a police raffle was convicted for owning the firearm. The model owned was either the one pictured below a very similar Marlin. It is an “assault weapon” under current New Jersey law, as it has a magazine capacity of 17.
I still fondly remember my very first one. Unlike the Marlin model described above, it was a Remington bolt action .22 long rifle with a bottom feed six round magazine. (You could load it with seven if you filled the magazine and put one in the chamber, but it had an annoying tendency to occasionally jam after the first shot when you did that.) But the Marlin isn’t all that different and my older brother had one. It’s a great first gun for young hunters seeking small game and a reliable target shooting piece.
But for all the fine qualities described above, this is not a rifle which jumps to mind as the weapon of choice for a madman seeking to go on a mass shooting spree or other act of widespread criminal mayhem. To be clear, here.. this is not to say that the Marlin rimfire .22 long rifle isn’t a dangerous weapon. All guns are, and it needs to be treated with the same level of respect and safe handling practices. But with a small bullet, 30 to 40 grain charge and a muzzle velocity of well under 1,400 feet per second, it’s just not a powerful weapon and is really best for small game and target shooting. (And yes, before any of you experts chime in, people can and do take down deer with a .22, but you’ve got to be a really skilled marksman to do it, whereas a .30-30 or a .30-06 is a lot more forgiving and allows for a body shot.)
But back to the subject at hand, allowing this bill to go through is going to outlaw an entire class of weapons which nobody is blaming for widespread, criminal gun violence in the country. Governor Christie should squash this ill considered piece of legislation at once and send a clear message to his opponents. If passed, this will turn into a gun grab of epic proportions, far outside the ostensible stated purpose of the law.