Whatever you may think of the Second Amendment, we all understand that some behavior with weapons can and should be against the law. Most people would also agree that certain people, such as people with certain dangerous mental illnesses, shouldn't have access to deadly weapons. To prevent unnecessary tragedies both the federal government and most states have passed laws to create a class of crimes called weapon offenses.
There are a number of federal laws restricting the use and ownership of dangerous weapons. Some are analogous to state laws, while others differ slightly. Whether you'll be charged with a federal or state crime for the same behavior can depend on a variety of factors, so you should make sure you understand the charges.
Specifically under New Jersey law, there are four main groups of weapons offenses and, in this series of posts, we'll cover each type. Today, let's start with weapons that are entirely prohibited by New Jersey law.
Possession of certain weapons is prohibited altogether in New Jersey
In the ordinary course of things, some weapons are simply too dangerous for people to possess, even with a permit. The classic example is a sawed-off shotgun. When you shorten a shotgun's barrel, you cause the spray of shot to widen substantially, so a sawed-off shotgun can't really be used for hunting -- its only apparent purpose is to injure or kill people. Possessing a sawed-off shotgun in New Jersey is a third-degree crime with a potential penalty of up to 5 years in prison. The same is true of some destructive devices.
Examples of other weapons prohibited in New Jersey
Unless you can point to an explainable lawful purpose, possessing any of a wide variety of prohibited weapons is a fourth-degree crime, which carries a penalty of up to 18 months:
- Switchblades, gravity knives or ballistic knives
- Daggers, dirks or stilettos
- Weapons made of razor blades imbedded in wood or leather bands studded with metal filings
- Billy clubs, sand clubs, blackjacks
- Brass knuckles or any metal knuckles
- Cestuses (armored or weaponized gloves)
- Stun guns (such as Tasers)
- Bullets that can penetrate bullet-proof vests (unless you keep it at your home)
Next week we'll continue to discuss exactly what constitutes a weapons offense in New Jersey. If you have been charged with a crime or have questions, please get in touch.