New Jersey “Assault” Rifle
” You may not know this, but by a twist of fate of New Jersey’s state laws, the standard Marlin Model 60 semi-automatic rifle is seen as a sinister death-dealer. Yes, the same little 22 caliber, tube-fed Model 60 that is the rifle of choice for target practice around the country is seen in the Garden State as being an assault rifle. How did this happen? Read on…
This innocent looking rifle, popular with small game hunters and youth shooting sports programs, had a tubular magazine that could hold 19-rounds (gasp!) of .22LR and even larger quantities (oh the humanity!) of shorter .22 Long, and .22 Short/CB rounds. Even though some 11-million of these firearms had been produced, the State considered them to be 11-million too many.
As such, any of these evil Marlins owned prior to 1990 by New Jersey residents could be grandfathered in –if they were registered. New models with the same 18+1 magazine that Marlin had sold for thirty years were forbidden to sell in the state.
In New Jersey itself, the State Supreme Court has made clear that the letter of the 1990 law has to be followed, even if such an innocent rifle as the Model 60 is scapegoated because of the bad legislation. In the 1996 ruling “State v. Pelleteri, 683 A. 2d 555 – NJ: Appellate Div. 1996,” the court looked at the case of Joseph Pelleteri who was charged with having an illegal 18-shot Marlin Model 60 in his possession that was not registered as an “assault firearm” with the State.
Pelleteri was a competition sports shooter who won the Marlin as a prize in a match (in police combat shooting!) during the late 1980s. This lucky winner never shot the gun; in fact, it was encountered in 1996 still in Pelleteri’s safe with the factory tags still on the rifle. When found, he was charged, convicted, and that conviction affirmed on appeal with the state Supreme Court saying, “”When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his own peril.”