Category Archives: Gun Control

Slate’s MJS slides down the slippery slope

Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to NY’s gun laws in NY State Rifle & Pistol, et al. v. New York, NY, et al.

Here’s the Question Presented:

Whether the City’s ban on transporting a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is consistent with the Second Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel.

Question Presented is available on the Supreme Court website here:

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The Citizen In Peril

I once lent my car to a friend for a week and it wound up getting towed.  He parked it in a legal spot and several days later, they changed the sign over the car.  My friend never got a notice that they were changing the sign, but off the car went to the impound lot.

There’s no shortage of public opinion on what should be done when it comes to the issue of gun control.  Yesterday, a set of bills were signed into law by the governor (with a lawsuit promptly filed).

But one of them, the 10 round magazine limit, will have unintended consequences due to the lack of notification to citizens and possibly the Graves Act.  The public should be aware of this before it becomes effective and the law should be updated.

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When the State treats non-residents with preferential treatment

Here, in NJ, law abiding gun owners sometimes find themselves in the crosshairs of the criminal justice system for having hyper-technical infractions of an amazingly complex set of laws.  As if the situation wasn’t worthy of attention for that fact alone, memoranda such as the Graves Act memo promulgated by the State Attorney General’s office remove relief valves such as pre-trial intervention, leaving nothing but prison terms remaining for people that make simple mistakes.

A couple of years ago, some high profile cases from out-of-state caused the AG to revise their Graves act memorandum.  In the 2014 Graves Act Clarification memo, NJ stated:

Recent events have focused public attention on how prosecutors exercise discretion in cases where a resident of another state brings into New Jersey a firearm that had been acquired lawfully and that could be carried lawfully by that visitor in the visitor’s home jurisdiction.  Under current New Jersey law, these otherwise law-abiding persons are subject not only to arrest, prosecution and conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm, but also to enhanced punishment – a mandatory minimum State Prison sentence – under the “Graves Act”.

It calls such this “neither necessary nor appropriate”.

Quite right.

But NJ is now considering changes to the laws that affect residents.  One of them in particular will change the Continue reading

Just Because I’m Paranoid: Addressing Obstacles to Gun Control

The story of Joseph Pelleteri and others like him creates one of the biggest obstacles to “commons sense” gun legislation — the fear that otherwise law-abiding citizens will be snared in a law enforcement nightmare.  It is that fear, embodied in the prosecutions of people attempting to navigate a labyrinthine system of regulations that dooms most gun control measures.

Imagine winning a brand new sports car with a V8 engine in a contest hosted by your local police department.  You keep the car in your garage, never driving it, and one day while the cops are at your home on an unrelated issue, they arrest you.  V8s you are informed were made illegal in the time between winning the car and today.  You find it a bit absurd, after all, since the same police arresting you were the ones that gave you the car.  You’re less amused when you find out you’re sentenced to jail for many years.

This sounds absurd.  Surely, no one would change a law and then arrest you for breaking it.  But for Joseph Pelleteri, it was no joking matter.

Pelleteri, an expert marksman who was once employed as a firearms instructor, won a contest hosted by a police department.  He received, from the police, a legal Marlin semi-automatic rifle that held 17 rounds of ammunition.  Several years later, the State of New Jersey amended N.J.S.A  2C:39-1(w)(4) dealing with firearms and because his rifle held more than 15 rounds, Mr. Pelleteri’s rifle was subject to the “assault firearm” ban enacted in 1990.  The decision in his case says that “[w]hen the police recovered the gun from defendant’s residence in December 1993, it still had the manufacturer’s tags and the owner’s manual attached to the trigger guard.”

To be clear, Mr. Pelleteri wasn’t a criminal before he received this rifle from a police department.  There is no indication that he had committed a crime to bring the attention of the police upon him (it is unclear in the record why police were at his home).  By all accounts, he was an upstanding, law-abiding member of society, and this rifle, capable of holding 17 rounds was perfectly legal when a police officer gave it to Mr. Pelleteri in the 1980s.  But now, it would now be the cause of his incarceration. Continue reading