When Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Democrats rushed a flurry of gun laws through the legislature last June of 2022, one of the laws rammed through was under the guise of banning guns with no serial numbers.
This law banned millions of rifles, shotguns, handguns, hunting guns, target shooting guns, military surplus guns, and virtually ALL muzzleloaders, black powder guns, antique guns, air guns and BB guns.
There are NO exceptions and there is NO grandfathering. This was the largest gun ban ever passed in the history of the United States.
The law bans ALL firearms with a “…firearm frame or firearm receiver …which is not imprinted with a serial number registered with a federally licensed manufacturer…”
The term “firearm frame or firearm receiver” means the part of a firearm that provides housing for the internal components.
For ANY firearm to be legal in New Jersey, it must now meet two criteria established by this law:
1) the firearm must be imprinted with a serial number; and
2) the serial number must be registered with a federally licensed manufacturer.
Under these requirements, the following types of firearms are now banned in New Jersey with no grandfathering or exceptions:
1) All pre-1968 rifles, shotguns, and handguns without serial numbers. Warning: Prior to 1968, there was no federal law requiring guns to have serial numbers.
2) All modern rifles, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers with serial numbers, but are not registered with a federally licensed manufacturer. This would include most modern imported rifles, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers, plus foreign firearms, and military surplus firearms from countries around the world, if these companies were not federally licensed manufacturers (e.g., Lugers, P-38s, Mausers, Arisakas, Enfields, SKSs, Carcanos, Webleys, Norincos, Mosins, etc.).
3) All BB guns without serial numbers. New Jersey includes BB Guns/Air Guns in its legal definition of a “firearm.”
4) All BB guns with serial numbers but are not registered with a federally licensed manufacturer. This would include most BB guns made, because there is no federal firearms manufacturing license required to make BB guns (e.g., Daisy, Crossman, Gamo, etc.).
5) All muzzleloading/black powder firearms without serial numbers. New Jersey includes black powder guns in its legal definition of “firearm.”
6) All muzzleloading/black powder firearms with serial numbers but are not registered with a federally licensed manufacturer. This would include most muzzleloading/black powder firearms made and/or imported because there is no federal firearms manufacturing license required to make or import muzzleloading/black powder firearms.
5) All antique firearms without serial numbers. Antique firearms are “firearms” under New Jersey law.
6) All antique firearms with serial numbers but are not registered with a federally licensed manufacturer. This would include most antique firearms because a federal firearms manufacturing license did not even exist at the time the antique firearms were manufactured.
The penalties for violating the new law are severe and draconian, as with most NJ gun laws:
1) Under N.J.S. 2C:39-3 n. possession of a banned firearm is a crime of the Third Degree which carries a maximum of five (5) years in State Prison and a $15,000 fine.
2) Under N.J.S. 2C:39-9 k. & n. purchase, transport, shipping, selling, or disposing of a banned firearm is a crime of the Second Degree which carries a maximum of ten (10) years in State Prison and a $150,000 fine.
Determining whether your firearm was made by a federally licensed manufacturer is difficult and will require research of each specific firearm. Of course, some guns are obviously made by U.S. licensed manufacturers, such as Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, Winchester, Remington, etc. Many other firearms, particularly those that were imported, might or might not have federal manufacturing licenses for other models of guns that they make.
Unfortunately, this law is poorly written, and no guidance is given in the law as to how such determinations are to be made. As with most gun laws in New Jersey, gun owners BEWARE.
This new law is an excellent example of how a law is sold to the public as one thing, but its actual effect is something else entirely. It was either intentionally done to give New Jersey the record for the largest gun ban in U.S. history, or it is an example of just how ignorant our legislators are about guns and the law. It’s most likely a combination of both.
About Evan Nappen
Known as “America’s Gun Lawyer,” Evan Nappen is above all a tireless defender of justice. Host of the praised “Gun Lawyer” Podcast, author of eight bestselling books and countless articles on firearms, knives, weapons history, and the law, a certified Firearms Instructor, and avid weapons collector and historian with a vast collection that spans almost five decades, it’s no wonder he’s become the trusted, go-to expert for local, industry, and national media outlets. Called on regularly by radio, television, and online news media for his commentary and expertise on breaking news, Evan has appeared on countless shows including Fox, CNN, Court TV, WOR-New York. As a creative arts consultant, he also lends his weapons law and historical expertise to an elite, discerning cadre of movie and television producers and directors, and novelists. He also provides expert testimony and consultations for defense attorneys across America. Visit www.evannappen.com for expert legal assistance.