Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Group seeks right to bear slingshots in NJ

A handful of people in New Jersey are looking to decriminalize slingshots, a weapon they claim was made illegal because of an error.

(iStock photo)
(iStock photo)Read more

THE BOY SCOUTS, Bart Simpson, angry protesters and random kids in the woods with a stick and rubber band have used them for decades.

In New Jersey, though, possession or transport of a slingshot is a felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison, and there are a few residents, a gun-rights attorney and a state assemblyman trying to change the law.

"There was no crime wave of slingshots that ever resulted in them becoming illegal," said gun-rights attorney Evan Nappen.

Nappen and Assemblyman Ron Dancer, a Republican from New Jersey's 12th District, believe the law was a result of a typographical error in 1978 that turned slungshot to slingshot. A slungshot, sometimes called a monkey's fist, is basically a hard ball or knot, affixed to a rope or cord that would-be robbers could use to whack someone in the head.

Ironically, the typo made slungshots legal, Nappen said.

"You can go in the store and buy a crossbow or a bow-and-arrow. A slingshot, which is far less lethal, is a fourth-degree felony," Nappen said.

Dancer said he is introducing a bill later this month to decriminalize slingshots.

"I don't want any kid to be turned into a juvenile delinquent because of a slingshot," he said.

Arrests for possession of a slingshot aren't clogging up the courts, obviously. Spokespersons for several large police departments in South Jersey said no one could ever recall arresting someone for it.

Nappen said he represented a "prominent rock star" in a slingshot case.

Monmouth County resident Deme Spy started the website and hopes to start a slingshot enthusiast club in the Garden State, too. It's a hobby, he said.

"We haven't had a meeting yet," he said.

Slingshots can be dangerous, of course, capable of launching rocks, marbles, steel balls at high speeds at people and property. Deme refers to them as "semi-lethal."

New Jersey isn't the only state to regulate them. They're illegal in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and in New York, slingshots with wrist braces, often called "wrist rockets," are also regulated.

Many manufacturers and websites won't ship them to New Jersey, although you could buy one in Pennsylvania and break the law crossing back over a bridge.

Dancer said he can't imagine any opposition to his bill and Spy, 49, doesn't think there will be a proliferation of slingshots in New Jersey if and when it passes.

"All my slingshots are broken right now," he said.