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 magazine size restrictions (which currently allow magazines that hold 15 rounds) to limit them to 10 rounds max.

If you owned several magazines at the current legal limit, you will become a felon as soon as this bill is signed into law.

You will not receive notice that the law changed.  You can and will be charged if it’s found in your possession.
Sadly, this has happened before.  I wrote about it here: Just because I’m paranoid: addressing obstacles to gun control
It appears that no one heeded my advice.  This won’t end well for someone.

If you’d like to email your legislators, you can find a list of their email addresses here.
Dear Lawmakers,
We have been here before and we know what will happen.  In 1990, our legislature proscribed the “knowing” posession of “assault firearms”, defined as  “[a] semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding [fifteen] rounds.” N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1w(4).
In 1996, Joseph Pelleteri, an otherwise law-abiding NJ resident was tried and convicted of having an assault rifle, given to him by his local police department, prior to the ban going into effect.
In that decision, the Court noted: “When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his own peril“.
But when the legislature previously reduced the magazine count to 15, they included a provision that [p]ersons legally in possession of such firearms prior to the effective date of the statute could retain these weapons by obtaining the appropriate registration.
Without the ability to grandfather items that millions of NJ residents own legally, that come standard issue with legally purchased firearms, we will see an increasing number of shocked residents, thrown into the grinding gears of our criminal justice system.  Nor can we assume prosecutorial discretion may be offered because under our NJ AG directive and the Graves Act, our prosecutors do not even have the discretion to offer pre-trial intervention (PTI) to keep would-be offenders under this new legislation, out of prison.
This will harm our residents.  We need laws that protect citizens, not those that throw them in jeopardy.
Please reconsider the magazine limit ban, or in the alternative, include a provision to grandfather legally owned products from law-abiding citizens.

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