Lawmakers took a belated step Monday toward rectifying a concern caused by the new limit on the maximum size of ammunition magazines, which since last week made it impossible for some officers to drive home from work with their loaded guns.

In May, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that reduced the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines from 15 rounds to 10. It had an exception for on-duty police officers or those commuting to and from duty – but not while off-duty.

State Policemen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Colligan said that created a problem.

“We had officers that were told by their chiefs and some of the prosecutor’s offices that they couldn’t leave their headquarters with the magazines that are provided in their duty guns,” Colligan said. “Pretty important that our officers are able to go to work off-duty with those weapons that are assigned by those departments.”

The limit took effect Dec. 10, last Monday. The Senate had passed a bill that would change the law in July, but the Assembly failed to do so at voting sessions in September and October.

“It was simply an error, and quite frankly I think just the date, the Dec. 10 date, caught up with everybody. And it was rectified today,” Colligan said. “I know the governor will be signing it very quickly.”

The bill now on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk would let off-duty police carry magazines holding 17 rounds of ammunition or less. They could possess magazines that can carry more than 17 rounds, if it’s used with their work-issued firearm.

Colligan said he didn’t receive calls from any police officers over the past week who had gotten into trouble carrying guns while off-duty.

“Some people chose to be at risk. Some departments, some chiefs, as they should consider their members always on duty. Because we are always on duty. Those chiefs were allowing their members to continue to carry it,” he said. “But some departments and some prosecutor’s offices didn’t want their members carrying the larger capacity magazines off duty, which quite frankly doesn’t make sense to me. But they’re responsible for their members, and that’s what they chose to do.”

The bill is S2846. The law reducing the ammunition capacity was A2761.


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