By: José Niño
New Jersey is among the most anti-gun states in the United States. A series of sweeping gun control bills passed last summer demonstrated how hostile towards the Second Amendment the New Jersey political class is. One of the laws that was passed in this instance was under the pretext of prohibiting firearms with no serial numbers.
Evan Nappen of AmmoLand observed that this law effectively banned large swathes of handguns, hunting firearms, military surplus guns, rifles, shotguns, handguns, hunting guns, and target shooting guns. In addition, the law banned powder guns, air guns, antique guns, BB guns, black powder guns, and practically all muzzleloaders.
Specifically, the law prohibits all firearms with a “…firearm frame or firearm receiver …which is not imprinted with a serial number registered with a federally licensed manufacturer…” In this context, the term “firearm frame or firearm receiver” refers to “the part of a firearm that provides housing for the internal components,” as Nappen noted.
For any firearm to be deemed legal in New Jersey, it must currently meet the following two criteria set forth by this law:
1) The firearm must be imprinted with a serial number; and
2) The serial number must be registered with a federally licensed manufacturer.
Under the requirements set forth by the law, the following firearms are currently prohibited in New Jersey:
1) All pre-1968 rifles, shotguns, and handguns without serial numbers.
2) All modern rifles, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers with serial numbers, but are not registered with a federally licensed manufacturer. This would include most modern imported rifles, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers, plus foreign firearms, and military surplus firearms from countries around the world, if these companies were not federally licensed manufacturers.
3) All BB guns without serial numbers. New Jersey includes BB guns/air guns in its legal definition of a “firearm.”
4) All BB guns with serial numbers but are not registered with a federally licensed manufacturer. This would include most BB guns made, because there is no federal firearms manufacturing license required to make BB guns.
5) All muzzleloading/black powder firearms without serial numbers. New Jersey includes black powder guns in its legal definition of “firearm.”
6) All muzzleloading/black powder firearms with serial numbers but are not registered with a federally licensed manufacturer. This would include most muzzleloading/black powder firearms made and/or imported because there is no federal firearms manufacturing license required to make or import muzzleloading/black powder firearms.
7) All antique firearms without serial numbers. Antique firearms are “firearms” under New Jersey law.
8) All antique firearms with serial numbers but are not registered with a federally licensed manufacturer. This would include most antique firearms because a federal firearms manufacturing license did not even exist at the time the antique firearms were manufactured.
The penalties for breaking this new law are stiff, which holds true for most New Jersey gun control laws. Individuals who violate this law could face the following the penalties:
1) Under N.J.S. 2C:39-3 n. possession of a banned firearm is a crime of the Third Degree which carries a maximum of five (5) years in State Prison and a $15,000 fine.
2) Under N.J.S. 2C:39-9 k. & n. purchase, transport, shipping, selling, or disposing of a banned firearm is a crime of the Second Degree which carries a maximum of ten (10) years in State Prison and a $150,000 fine.
Most gun control laws are poorly written. And that’s not by coincidence. The pro-gun control crowd wants to ensure that their gun grabs span a large scope of firearms. On top of that, gun control proponents will market their power grabs as innocuous reforms, while the actual text of the legislation tells us a completely different story.
Pro-Second Amendment journalist David Codrea sounded off against New Jersey’s latest gun grab:
“In its mania to disarm citizens predisposed to comply with the law, New Jersey’s ban of all unserialized firearms is indefensible even using means test standards. It has no chance of passing Bruen’s text, history. and tradition test, but then again, Democrats may not need it to.”
Codrea believes there is a long game in play with regards to this gun control measure:
“They’re playing a longer game. The objective here, and for other states enacting their own bans and restrictions, is to continually harass and deplete hard-won resources from “gun rights” groups dependent on modest supporter donations, while prohibitionist states enjoy virtually unlimited tax plunder to drag cases on for years. If they regain the White House, they’ll have the power to appoint more apparatchik judges, especially to the Supreme Court, and overturn Bruen.”
Dudley Brown, the president of the National Association for Gun Rights, expressed similar disgust with New Jersey’s latest gun grab:
“The National Association for Gun Rights opposes this heinous state government overreach by the gun control mob in New Jersey. A five year prison sentence and fifteen thousand dollar fine for owning a shotgun your grandpa bought you for bird hunting in 1967 is outrageous. The wording on this law is so broad and vague, we don’t even know how many people it impacts. And that’s not even mentioning the thousands of kid’s BB gun owners who are now criminals according to this law.”
Such legislation passing in New Jersey is unsurprising. It’s ranked in 49th place according to Guns & Ammo magazine’s best states for gun owners rankings. The Garden State is a thoroughly hostile jurisdiction to the right to bear arms. At this point, litigation and nullification of state laws by red counties in the state are the only ways to stave off the political class’s anti-gun onslaught.