Two days after Governor Jon Corzine took office, the Superintendent of State Police issued a letter to New Jersey firearms dealers that appears to turn honest gun owners who possess temporarily blocked large capacity magazines into criminals with no apparent means of complying with the law.
The letter, dated January 19, is an attempt to unilaterally reverse the Department of Law and Public Safety's policy -- in effect for more than 8 years -- allowing possession of large capacity magazines that have been temporarily blocked. The letter prohibits gun dealers from selling the blocked magazines and restates a requirement that they report the disposition of any large capacity magazines to the State Police within 48 hours
"This is the worst kind of policy making – thoughtless, secretive, and outside of public scrutiny,” said Scott Bach, President of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs and a member of the NRA Board of Directors.
New Jersey law prohibits the manufacture, sale, transport, possession or disposal of magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition. But at least two prior declaratory rulings from the Department of Law and Public Safety specifically excepted temporarily blocked magazines from these prohibitions. For nearly a decade, thousands of buyers and sellers have relied on these rulings.
The new letter is an apparent attempt to circumvent required procedure to effect a rules change. The Superintendent tried in 2002 to amend the Administrative Code on this issue, but the amendment failed due to overwhelming opposition from gun owners. What could not be obtained through proper procedure has now been enacted unilaterally through bureaucratic decree with no notice or hearing.
The new letter appears to instantly turn those already in possession of temporarily blocked large capacity magazines into criminals with no means of complying with the law. Even transportation and disposal of such magazines is prohibited by law, and permanently blocking the magazines could be deemed evidence tampering.
"The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs intends to vigorously challenge this action,” said Bach.