New Jersey’s Attorney General Is Wrong
Gurbir Grewal, the Attorney General of New Jersey, recently dispatched an angry missive to makers of 80% receivers and frames. The topic? “Ghost Guns.” The contents? Vitriolic. The facts? Entirely wrong.
His letter states “You are directed to cease and desist from selling and advertising “ghost guns” to residents of New Jersey. These weapons are illegal in our state. Your actions violate the laws of New Jersey and, if you do not stop these activities within 15 days, I will bring legal action against your company.”
The letter continues, “New Jersey law prohibits possession and sale of ‘ghost guns.’ As you are aware, that term refers to unregistered and unserialized firearms – including assault weapons – constructed, at least in part, by the purchaser. Assault weapons include not only fully assembled firearms, but also ‘a part or combination of parts from which an assault firearm may be readily assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person.’”
You might be wondering why the esteemed NJ AG didn’t just cite a New Jersey law which bans the sale of 80% frames, which are, according to the (federal) ATF, not firearms. Because they’re not firearms, none of what Gurbir Grewal said applies to them.
Indeed, New Jersey law is clear on this: a “weapon” is something that can be “readily assembled” into a firearm. No one can “assemble” an 80% receiver into a firearm, therefore, 80% receivers are neither firearms nor weapons.
Why, then, did Gurbir Grewal (I truly love his name, by the way – he would have been a fantastic Headmaster of Hogwarts in 1745 – but given his actions here, perhaps Head of Slytherin House would be more appropriate) not cite any specific law relating to 80% receivers in New Jersey?
Because there isn’t one.
NJSA 2C:39-1w(5) and NJSA 2C:39-9g clearly reference the sale of “firearms” or “assault weapons.” As we’ve already discussed, 80% receivers are not “firearms” or “weapons” until they are manufactured – manufactured, not assembled – into one.
Because of this, his further threat of pursuing them on the grounds of having violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is also groundless. Again, 80% receivers are neither firearms nor weapons, especially not assault weapons, and therefore it is not a “material fact” that New Jersey has laws relating to the “possession of unregistered assault weapons” and sellers of 80% receivers are not defrauding consumers if they don’t tell them about an irrelevant law.
There is a bill pending in the New Jersey Senate, NJ S.2465, which would ban the purchase of 80% receivers, and it acknowledges the manufacturing required to turn one into a firearm.
Thus, the New Jersey lawmaking apparatus recognizes the difference between assembling and manufacturing. Grewal knows he doesn’t have any legal ground to stand on until NJ S.2465 passes, and even then, it only addresses the purchase, not the sale, of such items.
That bill also requires the intent to manufacture a firearm, so it could be argued that the purchase of an 80% receiver alone, without the purchase of any other firearm components, does not constitute intent to manufacture. The law also does not define any specific percentage for completion required to violate the law, so I assume everyone who buys raw aluminum in the state of New Jersey will be arrested after it passes. Certainly, purchase of a 0% AR forging, which is little more than a paperweight, would also be in violation of the law.
Gurbir Grewal is simply blustering in the hopes that it will make 80% receiver sellers back down. He clearly wants to make a name for himself in the public arena, probably in the hopes of further political opportunities. Those who would support him would do well to understand how breathtakingly unsupported he is on this issue.
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