A U.S. District Judge last week refused to issue an injunction halting enforcement of New Jersey’s new ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
Enacted in June by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy after a multi-year push by state lawmakers, the new law reduces the legal maximum capacity of detachable magazines in the state from 15 to 10 rounds. Second Amendment advocates filed an immediate legal challenge to the ban, set to take effect in December, and last week lost the first round of their fight.
Judge Peter G. Sheridan, a 2006 appointment to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, acknowledged that magazines holding more than ten rounds are in common use and, therefore, entitled to Constitutional protection to a degree, citing the fact that some 133 million such magazines are in circulation. “In sum, based on the record presented, New Jersey’s ban on magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds implicates Second Amendment protections,” said Sheridan.
However, he found that the new law places only a “minimal burden” on lawful gun owners. “The new law imposes no new restrictions on the quantity of firearms, magazines or bullets an individual may possess,” said Sheridan. “It merely limits the total capacity of a single magazine. A gun owner preparing to fire more than ten bullets in self-defense can legally purchase multiple magazines and fill them with ten bullets each.”
Rebuffing a contention from the gun rights advocates that the state’s magazine ban violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment which states that private property can’t be taken for public use without compensation, Sheridan noted that magazine owners can convert their devices to accept 10 or fewer rounds, making them compliant, and thus legal to keep.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal characterized the ruling from Sheridan as a “Big win for public safety!”
Meanwhile, the lawsuit, filed by the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs against the state, is far from over and the NRA state affiliate has already appealed the decision to the U.S. 3rd Circuit.
“We ask that gun owners continue to be patient while we pursue every available procedure to halt enforcement of the new law,” said the ANJRPC in a statement. “Gun owners who choose to hold onto their magazines until then should be prepared to take immediate action with their magazines prior to the December 10 compliance deadline, if necessary.”