AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

New Jersey AG Cleans Up Sloppy Work of Legislators on ‘Ghost Guns’ with an Assist from Gun Owners

New Jersey is on the front lines of the battle for the Second Amendment. Work and fights that have been raging on for decades have found a broken levy influx of victories come through in a post NYSRPA v. Bruen world. While we’ve suffered some minor setbacks with a partial stay on a federal injunction against the so-called “carry-killer” law, which ironically keeps prohibitions on the carrying of firearms on the site of the Battle of Monmouth from the Revolutionary War still alive, we’ve gained so much ground. On the frontline defending the people from the liberty squishing policies of New Jersey’s ruling class is the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. Through negotiations, ANJRPC was able to broker a historic issuance of guidelines from Attorney General Platkin concerning so-called “ghost guns.”

Towards the beginning of last month, I reported on a situation that was brought to the gun owning community’s attention in New Jersey. A couple of laws that were enacted by Governor Phil Murphy were intended to prohibit the possession and transportation of what the government bodies refer to as ghost guns. Specifically, the intent of the laws in question were to outlaw the home manufacture of firearms, whether via 3D printing or by the use of an 80% lower.

When I reached out to the Attorney General’s office about this matter, asking about the intent of the laws and how they would be enforced, they said they had no comment. The problem with the way the laws were written was that they outlawed not only the intended home manufactured firearms but a whole host of other firearms and other items New Jersey defines as firearms. Any “NSN,” no serial number firearm that are pre-1968 would have been outlawed, as well as a whole host of other guns that were imported, are muzzleloaders, and even most BB/pellet guns.

ANJRPC worked closely with the Attorney General’s office and give them credit where credit is due, as they have released guidelines concerning the enforcement of the sloppily written law by the legislature.

June 30, 2023. The New Jersey Attorney General has issued new guidelines clarifying that the severe unintended consequences of New Jersey’s “ghost gun” law do not apply to millions of commonly-owned firearms, including bb guns, air guns, antique guns, pre-1968 firearms, and certain imported firearms.

The guidelines were issued after extensive discussion between ANJRPC and representatives of the Attorney General’s office. The discussions were led by attorney Dan Schmutter with input from attorney Evan Nappen.

Click here to see a copy of the new guidelines.

This development represents an extremely significant moment for New Jersey gun owners. The Attorney General has explicitly taken steps to limit the harsh unintended consequences of anti-gun lawmakers’ absurdly-crafted and ill-conceived legislation from last year.

Even limited by these guidelines, the “ghost gun” law is still an unacceptable infringement on the right to keep and bear arms. Nevertheless, gun owners no longer need to fear the unintended impacts of the law, and ANJRPC is pleased to have achieved this result without resort to litigation.

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I’ve been known to be ultra critical of Governor Murphy, his administration, and Attorney General Matthew Platkin, but this is an area where I’ve got to man up and extend my  kudos to the lot for sending out this guidance. It clearly was not the legislative intent to outlaw all the firearms that they did, and to have this kind of cooperation from what seems to be the most anti-gun administration that New Jersey has seen since its founding as a state, says something.

Granted, the threat of litigation over this issue would be looming in the background, as the law as written is just unacceptable, but it’s still beyond warming to be able to see the Association come together with the AG on these matters – even if it was self-serving for the AG to acquiesce to such negotiations. As for the statute, it’s deeply in need of being cleaned up, and it’s doubtful the legislature will do so, embracing the tradition of leaving a shoddy patchwork of insane laws in the Garden State – which most of are impossible to understand.

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