BY SCOTT L. BACH
New Jersey --(Ammoland.com)-NEW JERSEY already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, including an “assault” firearms ban and ammunition magazine limits. Gun owners are subjected to extensive criminal and mental health background checks, fingerprinting, fees and waits as long as eight months for permits.
Then, they’re forced to navigate a tangled web of regulations, under threat of 10-year jail sentences, for “crimes” like stopping for food, fuel or medical treatment while traveling to the range.
Don’t believe it? Just ask Governor Christie, who in 2010 commuted the seven-year prison sentence of entrepreneur Brian Aitken, convicted of transporting legal firearms while relocating to the Garden State. That’s just how it is for New Jersey’s million law-abiding gun owners.
With groups like the Brady Center and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence rating New Jersey as having the second-most restrictive gun laws nationwide, you’ve got to wonder just what more our legislators want to accomplish with their recent dump of 42 of the most extreme, intrusive and over-the-top gun bills ever seen in the Garden State.
One bill (A-3676) seems to presume that all of New Jersey’s gun owners are mentally ill, and forces them to have a psychological evaluation and Orwellian home inspection to keep their guns. Another (A-3664) obliterates self-defense by effectively banning firearms whose magazines hold more than five rounds of ammunition (think home invasion by a gang of heavily armed thugs while the state forces you to fumble in the dark changing magazines to save your family).
Yet another (A-3688) mandates submission of a privacy-invading list of everyone living in homes with firearms. And another (A-3659) pretends to ban a single type of firearm costing up to $10,000 and used mostly by wealthy competitors, yet it surreptitiously bans common shotguns, rifles and handguns.
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, we need meaningful proposals to keep our schools safe and to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. We don’t need a witch hunt that demonizes all who exercise their constitutional rights, or gun bans that won’t prevent another tragedy but will interfere with self defense.
Some legislators fail to realize that though you can ban hardware, you can’t ban evil. Those bent on doing evil will never be deterred just because one particular type of tool is unavailable. That is one of the great fallacies of gun control.
Another is the notion that criminals and madmen will even follow new laws. The only ones affected by gun laws are the honest citizens who follow them, who are left vulnerable to the criminals and madmen who don’t.
I am frequently asked why anyone needs ammunition magazines holding more than a few rounds. The answer is: for the same reasons that police do – they might encounter multiple assailants. Home invaders travel in packs, and they don’t follow magazine limits.
Victims shouldn’t have their hands tied by the state when defending their family in an emergency. When seconds count in a home invasion, the police are minutes away. And if the police show up late or never show up at all, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held they are not accountable, because their duty is owed to society as a whole, not to individual citizens.
You’re on your own
So the clear message is that you’re on your own in an emergency.
I’m also asked why anyone needs a semiautomatic firearm, and the answer is the same. But the issue is moot in the Garden State anyway, where most semiautos with a military appearance are already banned.
New Jersey currently has all the restrictions a gun controller could ever want. New laws like those being proposed won’t prevent another tragedy.
Instead of piling on more laws demonizing firearms and their owners, politicians need to enforce existing laws and find real solutions to the issues of school safety and keeping firearms from the mentally ill.
Scott L. Bach is executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs and an NRA board member. He is a former member of law enforcement and is licensed to practice law in four states.