Gun safety package is headed to Gov. Murphy’s desk
Bills received almost unanimous GOP opposition
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said lawmakers may meet over the summer to discuss any gun bills not given approval Wednesday. (Photo by Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)
A package of gun safety bills is headed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk after the Senate and Assembly passed the legislation during a marathon voting session Wednesday.
The measures passed with heavy opposition from Republicans who say New Jersey is already home to some of the strongest gun regulations in the country and argue these new restrictions would only hurt law-abiding residents.
“You people are hell-bent on going after the good guys. Shame on you,” said Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Sussex), one of several Republicans to speak out on the bill package.
Democrats countered that the bills would help stop people from being killed.
“No one measure will solve this, let’s be crystal clear,” Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D- Somerset). “This is meant to work on negating and preventing.”
Murphy urged lawmakers to pass the package — dubbed gun safety 3.0 by the second-term Democratic governor when he proposed them in April 2021 — after gunmen killed 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket and 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school.
Murphy said on Twitter Wednesday night he will sign the bills that cleared the Legislature.
The measures seek to:
- Regulate ammunition sales.
- Require firearm dealers to sell microstamping-enabled firearms.
- Prohibit certain .50 caliber rifles.
- Require gun owners who move from out of state to register their firearms and obtain a new firearm purchaser identification card.
- Mandate training to obtain that card, which must be renewed every 10 years.
- And give the attorney general power to bring legal action against gun manufacturers and retailers.
All Republicans voted against them in the Assembly. Sen. Vince Polistina (R-Atlantic) crossed the aisle to support some gun bills in the Senate, including measures that would require firearm owners to register their guns when moving from out of state and create a database for ammunition sales.
A bill that would have barred possession of body armor advanced in the Senate but was not taken up in the Assembly.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin didn’t comment on that bill specifically, but said it’s possible lawmakers meet over the summer to see the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on concealed carry permits. The nation’s high court last week struck down a New York law that restricted who can carry guns outside their homes, a decision that affects New Jersey’s similar law on concealed carry.
A measure to increase the age to buy rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21 advanced in the Assembly but wasn’t taken up in the Senate. Senate President Nicholas Scutari said he’d assess whether the bills need amendments to gain more support from lawmakers but expects to revisit them over the summer.
“If we can get to a place where we will provide reasonable gun safety on a bill that would be considered constitutional, we’ll do them. If they’re not going to provide real safety, then they’re not going to be done,” said Scutari (D-Union).
New Jersey’s gun laws have only gotten stronger under Murphy, who already signed laws strengthening background checks, limiting ammunition magazines, and establishing a red-flag law. This is the third gun reform package he’s pushed since taking office in 2018.
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