Gov. Phil Murphy signed seven new laws strengthening New Jersey’s already strict gun regulations during a stop in Metuchen. (Photo courtesy of Edwin J. Torres/N.J. Governor’s Office)
In the wake of a dozen mass shootings over the Fourth of July weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed seven new laws strengthening New Jersey’s already strict gun regulations.
“They are common sense, they are smart, they live up to our Jersey values,” Murphy told supporters who gathered to watch the bill-signing at Metuchen’s municipal building.
Joined by Democratic lawmakers, gun reform activists including Parkland survivor David Hogg, and dozens of others in Mom Demand Action and Everytown t-shirts, Murphy proudly touted his “Gun Safety 3.0” package as one that will protect New Jerseyans as gun violence surges nationally. He vowed it wouldn’t be the “last words on gun safety.”
The new laws will mandate firearm training for people seeking gun permits, ban .50 caliber weapons, require new New Jersey residents to register their firearms, regulate the sale of handgun ammunition and create a database of sales, require firearm retailers to sell microstamping-enabled firearms, upgrade certain gun manufacturing crimes to second-degree, and allow the state Attorney General to sue gun manufacturers.
Murphy’s signing came less than 24 hours after seven people were killed and dozens injured in a shooting at a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, and another shooting in Philadelphia that injured two police officers. According to the Gun Violence Archive, at least 220 people were killed and 570 injured due to gun violence during the holiday weekend.
Spurred by a spate of mass shootings in May and June, lawmakers swiftly advanced the gun bills that had languished for over a year in legislative committees. Another Supreme Court ruling overturning a New York law limiting where residents could carry weapons — potentially setting up New Jersey’s law for legal challenges — also energized lawmakers to pass the sweeping package.
“New Jersey is serving as an urgently needed model for the rest of the country,” said Raisa Rubin-Stankiewicz, a Rutgers University student and director with March For Our Lives New Jersey.
And for the first time in nearly three decades, Congress recently passed gun control legislation, aimed at boosting funding for mental health, closing a loophole that allowed some domestic abusers to purchase weapons, and enhancing some background checks.
While opponents argue that such laws will only hurt law-abiding gun owners, Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) said the bills were not reactionary, but the “product of good government.”
State Sen. Joe Cryan (D-Union), a prime sponsor of the several of the bills, recounted the painful times he heard someone learn of their loved one dying of gun violence.
“Somewhere in this world, between 1776 and today, between a musket and an AK-47, the rules changed,” he said. “It may be a right under the Second Amendment, but it should darn sure be a regulated one. … We’ve watched too many lives lost.”
A few bills in Murphy’s package didn’t make it to his desk after failing to gain enough legislative support. One plan to increase the age to 21 for shotgun and rifle purchases passed the Assembly, but awaits a vote in a Senate committee. Another bill requiring safe storage of firearms, with ammunition locked away separately, has yet to be heard in committees of both chambers.
Murphy said he’s proud of the progress the Garden State has made on gun control but said more must be done. The Legislature’s Democratic leaders have said the Assembly may meet this summer to revisit other gun reform bills.
Murphy vowed his administration will do “everything in our power to protect our residents.”
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