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New Jersey Senate Working to Turn Law-Abiding Gun Owners Into Criminals!

Friday, December 21, 2007

On Monday, December 17, the New Jersey Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed three bills that will have serious consequences for the Garden State’s law-abiding gun owners.

S2470, sponsored by State Senator Shirley Turner (D-15), as originally written, would have criminalized the transfer of any ammunition to anyone who does not have a valid firearms purchaser identification card, a copy of a permit to purchase a handgun or a valid permit to carry a handgun. While intended to prevent criminals from obtaining ammunition, the legislation would only impact honest gun owners, since criminals are unlikely to purchase or obtain ammunition through legal channels. 

In response to opposition by NRA, the Committee amended S2470 to limit regulation of ammunition transfers to ammunition specifically designed to be used only in handguns, and to exempt certain transfers in connection with target practice, competition, and training courses. Unfortunately, this bill does not address all sportsmen’s concerns and it must be defeated. 

Also introduced by Senator Turner, S2934 as originally written would have made honest gun owners responsible for the acts of criminals if they failed to “immediately” report the theft or loss of a firearm later used in a crime.  Styled as legislation requiring the reporting of stolen or lost firearms, the legislation would have held victims of theft legally responsible for the acts of criminals.

In response to opposition by NRA, the Committee amended S2934 by deleting the portion of the bill that would have made victims of theft criminally responsible if their firearm was later used in a crime, and replacing the ambiguous reporting standard of “immediately upon discovery” with a window of 36 hours from discovery to report the loss or theft of a firearm.  The amended bill imposes a civil penalty of not less than $500 for the first failure to report and $1000 for any subsequent failures.

S2431, sponsored by State Senators John Girgenti (D-35) and Paul Sarlo (D-36), is an overly broad attempt to address gang violence that will have severe consequences for law-abiding gun owners in New Jersey.  Among other things, it criminalizes and severely punishes the mere possession of handguns (including registered handguns), even while engaged in lawful activities.  Although other existing provisions of New Jersey law provide exemptions for honest gun owners, the exemptions are extremely narrow, highly technical, and easy to violate inadvertently.  Accordingly, the bill puts law-abiding gun owners at real risk of a potential 10-year prison sentence and a $150,000 fine.

These bills are now on their way to the Senate for consideration.  Please contact your State Senator today at (609) 292-4840 and respectfully urge him or her to protect the Second Amendment rights of New Jersey’s law-abiding gun owners by opposing S2470, S2934, and S2431.

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