In mid-December 2018, alarms went up on social media about a supposed “door-to-door gun confiscation campaign” being implemented in the state of New Jersey.
Users tweeted links to web articles with headlines accusing New Jersey officials of violating the Second Amendment and “declaring war” on their own residents:
NJ State Police to Launch Door-To-Door Gun Magazine Confiscation Campaign…at Gunpoint, of Course…NJ Declares War on Its Own Residents https://t.co/5IaoXAZauP #NewJersey #2A #GunConfiscation #GunControl #SecondAmendment pic.twitter.com/RsBfdM1THa
— The Daily Sheeple (@TheDailySheeple) December 13, 2018
Gun Confiscation Begins in New Jersey – American Thinker – Which Part Of “Shall Not Be Infringed” Do They Not Understand? https://t.co/ppJf2jmQj3 #2ndAmendment #2ADefenders pic.twitter.com/n73IPjRXHW TW517
— ❌ Daniel John Sobieski ❌ (@gerfingerpoken) December 21, 2018
Among the articles cited in these posts were “Gun Confiscation Begins in New Jersey,” published on the website American Thinker, and “New Jersey Declares War on Its Residents: Plans Door-To-Door Gun Confiscation Campaign,” published on Zero Hedge (the latter being a reprint of a 12 December article from the Natural News website originally titled “NJ State Police to Launch Nazi-Style Door-to-Door Gun Magazine Confiscation Campaign … at Gunpoint, Of Course“).
Despite what’s claimed in those headlines, however, none of the articles proffered evidence that the state was actually conducting, or planned to conduct, door-to-door gun confiscations. For example, American Thinker merely asserted that a new state law prohibiting high-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition “opens the door” to such a program:
President Obama and President Trump were both right, Obama when he told us elections have consequences and Trump in his 2018 stump speech that a consequence of Democrat victories would be renewed attacks on the Second Amendment. New Jersey’s ban on high-capacity magazines has been upheld by a federal court, opening the door to door knock gun confiscation and making off-duty police officers subject to criminal prosecution. The inmates are officially running the asylum.
Further down, the same article quoted a Breitbart report saying New Jersey State Police “refused to rule out” house-to-house enforcement:
The NJ State Police refused to rule out house-to-house checks. Rather, they responded: “We do not discuss enforcement strategies.”
Breitbart News also reached out to Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) press secretary Daniel Bryan about enforcement of the ban. As of the publication of this article Bryan had not ruled out house-to-house enforcement of the ban either.
That same Breitbart story was quoted in the Natural News/Zero Hedge article alleging that police “plan” to go door-to-door confiscating weapons. But none of those articles acknowledged a follow-up report on Breitbart (published later the same day) in which the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) were quoted as saying they did not, in fact, have any such plans:
NJSP contacted Breitbart News on the night of December 11, offering a second statement which went further than the first. They said: “While we do not discuss our enforcement strategies, there are no plans to go door-to-door to enforce this current ban.”
So, while it’s technically accurate to say the state has not explicitly “ruled out” such a program, it’s not accurate to say they’re planning one, and patently false to say gun confiscations are currently underway.
The question of precisely how the high-capacity magazine ban will be enforced has been a sticking point ever since the law was passed and signed by New Jersey’s governor in June 2018. As written, it calls for New Jersey residents who own them to “sell, modify, destroy or turn over” their high-capacity magazines by 10 December, according to NJ.com, or face a fourth-degree felony charge punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and 18 months in prison. A 20 December article published by Reason reported that few, if any, New Jersey gun owners had turned over their now-illegal magazines to police by that date.
John Crump of Ammoland.com wrote on 14 December that State Police sources said they were still unclear on how they were supposed to enforce the law, which many New Jersey gun owners consider “unenforceable”:
AmmoLand’s sources within the New Jersey State Police that spoke on a condition of anonymity stated that they had not received any guidance on how to enforce the ban from the AG’s office. They said that there is currently no plan to investigate gun owners suspected of having the now banned magazines.
According to the source, the plan that has been discussed among officers is only to file charges against people who are guilty of other crimes. This plan might change once superiors give guidance on how to enforce the ban.
We e-mailed a request for clarification to Sharon Lauchaire, the New Jersey Attorney General’s director of communications, who replied: “While we do not discuss law enforcement strategies, I can confirm that there are no plans to go door to door.”