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PA Bill Number: HB440

Title: In criminal history record information, further providing for expungement, for petition for limited access, for clean slate limited access and for ...

Description: In criminal history record information, further providing for expungement, for petition for limited access, for clean slate limited access and f ...

Last Action: Re-reported as committed

Last Action Date: Oct 20, 2020

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Federal court upholds NJ ban on large-capacity gun magazines :: 09/05/2020

For a second time, a federal appeals court has shot down a New Jersey gun club's attempt to have the state's ban on large-capacity magazines declared unconstitutional. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit again upheld a 2018 New Jersey law that banned magazines with 10 rounds or more of ammunition. The appellate panel agreed with the District Court ruling that the ban was a "reasonable" gun regulation enacted in response to mass shootings, and did not violate the citizen's right to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

In a ruling handed down this week, the appeals court agreed with the earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan that the law “does not prohibit the possession of the quintessential self-defense weapon, the handgun,” nor does it “effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend" themselves. All it does is lower the number of bullets in the magazine, the court said. 

In addition, the appellate panel upheld previous rulings that the ban did not violate Fifth Amendment protection against unlawful taking of property, or the 14th Amendment that says no citizen can be deprived of "life, liberty or property" without due process. 

The law has been challenged by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is based in Sussex County. The group filed suit the day that Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill in June 2018, but failed to convince Sheridan and has subsequently lost two rounds of appeals.

The association did not respond to an email seeking comment on Friday. 

Banning large-capacity magazines is considered one way to limit the carnage in mass shootings, although the appellate court ruling noted there is little hard evidence to support that approach. The theory goes that a shooter with a smaller magazine would have to pause and reload – thus giving victims time to escape, or bystanders an opportunity to intervene and stop the shooter. 

Gun-control groups see the ruling as a victory for common sense restrictions. 

“The courts have overwhelmingly upheld gun safety laws, including sensible restrictions on large-capacity magazines," said Eric Tirschwell, the litigation director of Everytown for Gun Safety. "As the Third Circuit reaffirmed, the Constitution leaves broad room for states to pass reasonable laws to protect their residents."

Richard Cowen covers Superior Court in Passaic County for For unlimited access to the most important news from criminal trials to local lawsuits and insightful analysis, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


Twitter: @richardcowen123