Last week, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill lowering its current 15 round magazine limit to 10 rounds. New Jersey is one of only eight states that has ANY limit to how many rounds a magazine can hold. Part of the reason is that the expired National Assault Weapons Ban included a magazine limit of ten rounds, so states didn’t feel pressure to enact their own.
Now that the New Jersey legislation has passed both the NJ Assembly and the NJ Senate, the bill moves on to Governor Christie’s desk and he will decide whether to sign it into law, veto it outright, or conditionally veto with suggested changes. He can also allow it to lollygag about all summer and wait out the 45 legislative days until it becomes law by default. (My guess is he’ll CV it because that’s the easy way out without seeming lazy.) Still, I have hope that the Governor will sign it. The advocates at Sandy Hook Promise have been great supporters for NJ’s Ten Round Limit legislation, for obvious reasons.
Why does it even matter how large a magazine is? A recent analysis of mass shootings (pdf) showed that when assault weapons and high capacity magazines were used, 151% more people were shot resulting in 63% more deaths than in other incidents. While mass shootings are a small percentage of gun violence incidents, they are intensely devastating to communities and the families affected. The FBI defines “mass shooting” as any incident where at least four people were shot or murdered with a gun. Most of these incidents receive minor press coverage because they occur in private homes.
While lowering the size of magazines may not eradicate the horrific reality of mass shootings, it will mitigate the end result. And that matters. It matters for the people who were able to subdue the perpetrator in Tucson as he fumbled while switching out a magazine. It matters for the children who were able to escape the room when the Sandy Hook perpetrator stopped to change a magazine. And most recently, it matters to the pedestrians who were shot at and survived when a disturbed young man took to the streets. It matters to them. It matters to their families. It matters.
Here is an on-line petition from Sandy Hook Promise to let Governor Christie know you support returning to the 10-round limit we had just ten years ago.
I’m posting the testimony I shared with the Assembly explaining why I support a limit of ten rounds for ammunition magazines. (Here is video of my testimony to the Senate earlier this year.) I hope that you’ll join me in urging Governor Christie to sign this bill into law NOW. His contact information is below.
Snail Mail: Office of the Governor, PO Box 001, Trenton, NJ 08625 Telephone: 609-292-6000
Testimony submitted to the NJ Assembly supporting a 10 Round Limit for Ammunition Magazines
Good Morning. I am here in support of A2006. I hesitate to repeat points made in previous hearings or in previous national legislative sessions when ten rounds in an ammunition magazine was the national limit for a decade. I don’t want to repeat points about how during that decade, high-capacity magazines were found in fewer and fewer criminal arrests in Virginia thanks to the ten round limit included in the Assault Weapons Ban. And I know that committee members have heard the accounts from tragedies such as Sandy Hook, Connecticut and Tucson, Arizona.
I hesitate to repeat the obvious and real accounts of children running to safety as the Sandy Hook perpetrator fumbled when exchanging an ammunition magazine. And I know you’ve heard about the Tucson perpetrator being disarmed and subdued when he dropped a loaded magazine while attempting to load it I’m sure you know that the 13th bullet fired by the Tucson perpetrator killed 9-year old Christina Greene. I hesitate to repeat these tangible, non-hypothetical examples of why limiting magazines to ten rounds is an act that will make New Jersey a safer place for us and for our families. It seems repetitive to those of us who have worked for gun violence prevention, and yet others are repetitive in misleading ways, so I feel it’s necessary.
However, I prefer to add testimony that is slightly different.
I am not naïve. I have worked many years in both urban areas and suburban areas. I have been the victim of violent crime, and I have worked with teenagers and young adults on all sides of violent crime. Gun violence, like violence in our society, has no easy answers. Yet, we have methods to mitigate the impact on our lives. Reducing magazine limits to ten rounds, returning them to the level our entire country enjoyed just ten years ago, is one of those methods. Will it stop gun violence the moment this bill becomes law? Of course not. But it can and will lessen injuries and deaths should the worst happen.
New Jersey deserves to remain a leader in gun safety legislation. We are currently a state with one of the lowest per-capita gun deaths in the entire nation. However, where smart firearm legislation is concerned, we have slipped behind other states in the last two years. Besides that, our relatively low numbers are still devastating to far too many of our residents. Being the lowest in the face of horrifically high numbers is still horrific. We can do better, and I hope that the New Jersey legislature can and will continue to lead the way.
The legislation you are hearing testimony on today contains concessions both to exempt certain .22 caliber rifles, referred to as the “Boy Scout Rifle” exemption, and providing a 180 day period to dispose of currently owned large capacity magazines. These are evidence that New Jersey’s legislators are listening, and when they see compelling evidence, they are flexible. I’d hope that when legislators hear data that shows that when high-capacity magazines are used in mass shootings 151% more people are shot than in other incidents and 63% more people are killed, they consider the data. Both of those numbers are clear indicators of the lethality and injury-causing power of high-capacity magazines. It doesn’t take a math whiz to understand that more bullets mean more death and injury.
Thank you for your time.