New Jersey gun owners recently had a rude awakening when they were reminded that the state’s gun laws are some of the toughest in the nation. And it all started with a government sanctioned program that has been around since the early 20th century.
It’s called the Civilian Marksmanship Program. It’s nationwide, and it falls under the Federal Government’s Corporation for The Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearm Safety. Here is how it works. Civilians can apply for military surplus M-1 rifles, and receive one in the mail for a fee. The idea behind the program is to encourage safe and legal gun ownership. Each participant undergoes a thorough background check.
The program goes back to the late 19th century, but the direct lineage can be traced back to 1903 When President Teddy Roosevelt established the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. Anyway, you get the idea. It’s been around for a long time. It may not be your cup of tea, but believe it or not there are gun owners in New Jersey who have participated.
Apparently in the beginning of April, at the behest of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the New Jersey State Police contacted CMP ( which has outposts in Alabama and Ohio ) and informed its leadership that they believe the organization is violating NJ law by shipping rifles directly to people in NJ and not going through dealers. A couple of weeks later, representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, The state Police, ATF and CMP met in West Trenton to discuss how to comply with state statute which the Dept. of Law and Public Safety tells me is N.J.S. 2C:39-9i, and 58-3b. In order to purchase a firearm in New Jersey, one must present a special ID card expressly for that purpose. By allowing people to fax that card in, CMP was not looking at them directly which violates the law. In other words people have to go through dealers in order to physically present the card to a live person. If you think that sounds like a nit-picky technicality that is probably because you are right. It is.
Keep in mind we are not talking about handguns here. There is a whole other set of complicated criteria that needs to be met if you want to legally get ahold of one of them.
So, from now on people in New Jersey will not be allowed to purchase rifles directly and have them shipped through the mail. They will have to go through authorized firearms dealers. Not the end of the world, but it has kind of irked some gun owners who feel it’s just more regulation over something they have a legal right to do. The fact that the A-G’s office played a role further irritates them. They believe Paula Dow’s actions ( including weighing in on a recent California case that went to the US Supreme Court: see earlier post “Did Dow go Rogue?” ) are “not consistent with what you would expect from a Republican Administration.”
As for CMP, this is unusual but not unprecedented. They sometimes get calls from police departments, but usually those departments back off when its discovered that CMP is exempt from Federal law and can legally ship directly to people’s homes. Chicago and New York City have prevented that from happening, and now apparently so has New Jersey.