New Jersey Considers This to be an Assault Weapon

That’s a Marlin Model 60.

It’s a .22 caliber rimfire semi-auto.

It has a fixed tubular magazine.

It sells for in the neighborhood of $100.

That magazine holds 17 .22 Long Rifle cartridges. Or at least older models used to.

And if you possess one in New Jersey, it can get you five years in the slammer on a felony charge.

Commenting on “Two Rounds = “Assault Weapon” below, reader Pete linked to a heartwarming New Jersey Superior Court decision regarding the case of New Jersey v. Pelleteri (broken link updated 1/16/14). I’d never heard of this, even though it occurred in 1996 and I was really getting into the issue of gun rights starting in 1995. Here’s the basis of the case:

On May 30, 1990, our Legislature proscribed the “knowing” possession of “assault firearms.” N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5f. Persons legally in possession of such firearms prior to the effective date of the statute could retain these weapons by obtaining the appropriate registration. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-12. Included in the definition of “assault firearm” is “[a] semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding [fifteen] rounds.” N.J.S.R 2C:39-1w(4). Defendant was convicted of “knowingly” having in his possession an assault firearm, a semi-automatic rifle with a magazine capacity of seventeen cartridges.

Defendant, an expert marksman who at one point was employed as a firearms instructor, won a Marlin semi-automatic rifle in the late 1980’s by placing first in a police combat match. An avid gun collector, defendant placed the weapon in his safe. Defendant claimed that he neither inspected nor used the firearm. When 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. The owner’s manual indicated that the rifle could hold at least seventeen cartridges. Defendant claimed that he never read the manual. While conceding that he knew the rifle was a semi-automatic weapon, defendant contended that he was unaware that the firearm had a magazine capacity exceeding fifteen rounds.

Here’s the kicker:

When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his peril. In short, we view the statute as a regulatory measure in the interests of the public safety, premised on the thesis that one would hardly be surprised to learn that possession of such a highly dangerous offensive weapon is proscribed absent the requisite license.

I have not found the sentence Mr. Pelleteri received, but he could have gotten five years. He certainly lost his right to arms, as he was convicted of a felony. He was an expert marksman, a firearms instructor, and a collector. Now he cannot (legally) touch a firearm.

I. Am. Aghast.

A “highly dangerous offensive weapon”? It’s a .22 FOR CHRISSAKES! TWO WHOLE ROUNDS OVER THE LIMIT!

A fourteen round magazine capacity (that Marlin now makes) = perfectly safe, harmless little plinker.

But SIXTEEN rounds makes it “a highly dangerous offensive weapon.”

If it isn’t licensed.

Stick a fork in New Jersey, it’s done.

Will the last gun owner leaving New Jersey please turn off the lights?

I think Claire Wolfe’s admonition that it’s too early to shoot the bastards doesn’t hold for Jersey.

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