Proposed Anti-Gun Laws in New Jersey

In the wake of one of the most—probably the most—devastating and horrendous shooting massacres in recent history, which occurred at the hand of Adam Lanza in Newton, Connecticut, anti- and pro-firearms activists around the country have called for a re-examination of the current laws in effect controlling the rights of Americans to own and bear firearms. Whether you own firearms, despise them, or are indifferent to them, you probably have an opinion on how mass-murdering shooters like Adam Lanza or James Holmes, the Batman shooter, can be prohibited or prevented from getting their hands on firearms. Most propose New Jersey anti-gun laws, rather than pro-gun laws. Legislators of the State of New Jersey have heard the opinions of the people and firearms activists and have proposed quite a number of laws that they hope can halt the risk of mass-shootings at its core. The following is a short synopsis of the major bills proposed in the State of New Jersey:

  • Assembly Bill 3664 sponsored by Representatives Joseph Cryan (D), Jason O’Donnell (D), and Mila Jasey (D). “This bill revises the definition of ‘large capacity ammunition magazine’ to reduce the number of rounds of ammunition a legal magazine may hold in this State. Under current law, it is unlawful to own or possess an ammunition magazine that is capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition. This bill would reduce the maximum capacity of a legal ammunition magazine in New Jersey to five rounds.”
  • Assembly Bill 3676 sponsored by Representative Angelica Jimenez (D). “This bill would require any person applying for a firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun to submit the results of a psychological evaluation before being issued the card or permit. Under the bill, the Superintendant of State Police would be responsible for issuing guidelines concerning the content of the psychological examination, the qualifications necessary to administer the psychological examination, maintaining confidentiality of the subject of the examination, compliance with federal law, and any other guideline the superintendant deems necessary. The bill also would require applicants to have an on-site inspection and evaluation of the household where the firearm will be located.”
  • Assembly Bill 3688 sponsored by Representatives Charles Mainor (D) and Angelica Jimenez (D). “This bill would require any person applying for a firearms purchaser identification card or handgun purchase permit to submit the results of a mental health evaluation as a prerequisite for issuance of the card or permit. The bill also would require applicants to submit a list of the names of every person residing in the applicant’s household and whether the person has a mental illness. In light of the recent mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 six- and seven-year old students and six adults were killed by a gunman with a history of mental illness, it is the sponsor’s intent that any person in this State who wants to purchase a firearm must first meet a certain standard of mental capacity to do so.”
  • Assembly Bill 3666 sponsored by Representatives Joseph Cryan (D), Jason O’Donnell (D), and Mila Jasey (D). “This bill would make mail order, Internet, telephone, and any other anonymous method of ammunition sale or transfer illegal in New Jersey. The provisions of the bill require that all ammunition sales and transfers be consummated as face-to-face transactions and that at the time of the sale or transfer the purchaser or recipient display a valid form of picture identification to the person selling or transferring the ammunition. Face-to-face transactions are defined as sales or transfers in which the purchaser, transferee, or assignee is in the physical presence of the seller, transferor, or assigner. Under the bill, a violator would be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by imprisonment for a term of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Federal and State licensees and dealers, law enforcement agencies and officials, and collectors when purchasing, acquiring, or transferring ammunition which is recognized as being historical in nature or of historical significance, are exempted from the provisions of the bill.”
  • Senate Bill 2464 sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner (D). “This bill would regulate the sale of rifle and shotgun ammunition. Under the provisions of the bill, only individuals who hold and can display a valid firearms purchaser identification card, a valid copy of a permit to purchase a handgun, a valid permit to carry a handgun, or a valid New Jersey hunting license would be permitted to purchase and possess rifle or shotgun ammunition in this State. The bill exempts individuals who are collectors of firearms or ammunition as curios or relics who purchase, receive, acquire, possess, or transfer rifle ammunition or shotgun ammunition which is recognized as being historical in nature or of historical significance. The bill also provides an exemption for law enforcement personnel and law enforcement purposes. In addition, the bill permits the transfer of some ammunition for use in a lawfully transferred firearm for (1) use on a firing range operated by a licensed dealer, a law enforcement agency, a legally recognized military organization, or a registered rifle or pistol club; (2) hunting; or (3) training purposes. The bill’s restrictions on the sale and possession of ammunition do not apply to blank ammunition, air gun pellets, flare gun ammunition, nail gun ammunition, paint ball ammunition, or any non-fixed ammunition.”
  • Assembly Bill 3659 sponsored by Representative Peter Barnes (D). “This bill amends N.J.S.2C:39-1 to revise the definition of ‘destructive device’ so that it includes weapons of 50 caliber or greater. Although it centers primarily on devices or instruments designed to explode or produce uncontrolled combustion, the current statutory definition of ‘destructive device’ also includes weapons which fire projectiles of greater than 60 caliber. Under the bill and subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:39-3, it would be unlawful to possess a firearm having a caliber of 50 or greater. A person violating this provision would be guilty of a crime of the third degree. A crime of the third degree is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, imprisonment for three to five years, or both. The bill does, however, provide exemptions for 1) antique firearms; 2) antique handguns; 3) muzzleloader rifles; and 4) black powder muzzleloaders having in-line ignition, a center hammer or an under hammer which have been approved for hunting in this State. These firearms would continue to be governed by the statute’s current ‘greater than 60 caliber’ restriction. Antique firearms and handguns are defined in the statutes as firearms which: (1) do not fire fixed ammunition or were manufactured before 1898 and for which fixed ammunition is not commercially available; and (2) are possessed as a curiosity or ornament or for their historical significance or value.  The statutory definition of ‘antique handgun’ includes replicas; under this bill, ‘antique firearm’ and ‘antique cannon’ are also defined to include replicas. The bill defines a muzzleloader rifle to mean a single shot, single barrel, side lock percussion or flintlock firearm with iron or peep sights, or with a fiber optic sight or scope, and a stock made of wood or any synthetic material. The bill also excludes from the definition of a destructive device any firearm with a bore diameter larger than 60 caliber whose principle means of ignition are traditional flintlock or caplock and whose principle propellant is black powder.  This would allow the possession of certain weapons greater than 60 caliber currently used by revolutionary war re-enactors. Under the provisions of the bill, it would be unlawful for anyone to possess a prohibited firearm of 50 caliber or greater. The bill, however, grants individuals who lawfully own one of these prohibited firearms one year in which to dispose of them. To facilitate the voluntary surrender of these firearms, the bill authorizes the Superintendent of State Police to establish a buyback program. Funding for this program is to be provided by the Attorney General from the proceeds acquired from the property and valuables forfeited by convicted criminals. Those not wishing to participate in this buyback program may (1) sell their prohibited firearm to someone who is authorized to lawfully possess it or (2) render the prohibited firearm inoperable and so notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. Finally, the bill affords immunity from prosecution to individuals during the interim between the effective date of the bill and the actual establishment of the buyback program. Thereafter, the bill affords immunity from prosecution to individuals for their actions associated with their participation in the buyback programs.”

NOTE: This blog post is for informational purposes only and is neither intended nor should it be interpreted to be legal advice or opinion.