Trenton, NJ – The new law that limits gun magazines to 10 rounds went into effect on Dec. 10 without the legislature taking up the amendment to create an exception for law enforcement officers.
Modern firearms issued to patrol officers generally hold 12 or more rounds of ammunition.
That means that just about all law enforcement officers in New Jersey will be breaking the law if they carry their assigned duty weapons while off duty, including just being home with them, unless they live outside of the state or leave their magazines behind at work, rendering the weapons near-useless.
Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo issued a memorandum to local police officials on Dec. 13 reminding everyone that the prohibition of the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines also applied to off-duty law enforcement officers.
“The statute now provides that law enforcement officers are not permitted to possess large capacity ammunition magazines, i.e. magazines capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously into semi-automatic firearms, unless while on duty or traveling to or from an authorized place of duty,” the memo read.
“This statute applies to all law enforcement officers, including those subject to on-call status. Violation of this statute constitutes a fourth degree crime,” the memo continued. “There is legislation pending to amend the statute to permit law enforcement officers possession of large capacity magazines. We will keep you informed if and when the statute is amended.”
Under the new law, it’s technically legal for them to carry their gun home from work with them, but the minute they get home, they are breaking the law.
Bergen County may have been the only jurisdiction in the state to remind local law enforcement about the change in the law, and that’s confused a number of New Jersey residents.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about this, and a lot of people thinking the prosecutor put this out there on his own. But it’s a state law,” explained Elizabeth Rebein, the public information officer for the Bergen County prosecutor’s office.
Rebein said Calo issued the memo to point out that while the amendment to the law that would allow a magazine size exception for police officers was pending, it hadn’t actually been passed by the state legislature.
The amendment is expected to be signed on Monday, but that leaves officers vulnerable to breaking the law for a week.
Blue Lives Matter asked how officers with take-home vehicles or who were required to be on duty when they left their homes were supposed to have their duty weapons, the prosecutor’s office acknowledged a problem.
“There seems to be a conflict in the law in that regard,” Rebein said.
But she pointed out that for now, the new law has to be enforced and that’s why the reminder was sent.
“This is not something that is coming from the prosecutor. This is something the legislature passed that went into effect on December 10th,” Rebein explained.
The memo was sent out to assuage any concerns that law enforcement officers might be under the impression that the much-needed exception in the new law had already been passed, she said.