The already strict firearm laws of New Jersey got even tougher this week as Gov. Phil Murphy signed four new gun control bills into law — including one designed to make personalized “smart guns” more easily available in the state.
It comes a little more than a year after Murphy signed six firearm laws, vowing to make New Jersey a national leader in “common-sense” gun safety. The Democratic governor has championed the latest laws as his “Gun Safety Package 2.0.”
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“Even though there’s more to do, we must take great pride in what we are doing today,” Murphy said at a signing ceremony at Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights. “These new laws will send the message we take gun safety and the safety of our communities seriously.
The laws expand the list of crimes that bar someone from owning a gun in New Jersey, attempt to curtail gun trafficking from other states, and aim to prevent suicides.
The most notable measure (S101) focuses on “smart guns,” which can be fired only by their designated owners. They are designed to be safer than typical handguns, using fingerprint and other identification technology to prevent accidental shootings. For instance, they could keep children from firing their parents’ guns.
But officials say a 2002 New Jersey law has helped keep smart guns off the market. The law mandated that dealers in the Garden State could sell only smart guns once they became marketable anywhere in the country.
That, Murphy said, created a loophole that slowed the production of smart guns because it allowed the gun lobby to put an “enormous amount of pressure” manufacturers not to conduct research and development on the weapons.
The new law aims to close that loophole. It requires every gun retailer in the Garden State to sell at least one smart gun.
It also creates a commission that will approve and maintain a roster of smart guns that can be sold.
The law doesn’t kick in for retailers until the commission is formed and members vote on new rules for smart guns, according to the governor’s office. The commission has at least six months to be formed.
Former Gov. Chris Christie, Murphy’s Republican predecessor, vetoed the bill twice, saying it was “reflective of the relentless campaign” by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature “to make New Jersey as inhospitable as possible to lawful gun ownership and sales.”
Scott Bach, the head of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, likened the new law to a Trojan Horse.
“In 2002, the anti-gunners tipped their hand by passing a ban on everything other than a smart gun,” Bach said.
He argued that sent “a chilling effect for gun owners” in the state because “they’re using (this) as a vehicle to ban everything else.”
Bach added: “Gun owners who are normally very interested in new technology … were basically tipped off.”
The other bills Murphy signed Tuesday will:
- Add convictions of crimes such as carjacking or making terroristic threats to the list of crimes that ban people from buying firearms in the state (S3897).
- Make it a third-degree crime for people who aren’t allowed to have a gun who attempt to obtain one (A4449).
- Encourage firearm retail dealers and operators of firing ranges in the state to attend a suicide prevention course (A3896).
Murphy once again called on state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester — whom he often feuds with — to schedule a vote on the ammunition measure.
“There’s no reason for it not to be put to a vote,” the governor said Tuesday.
Murphy also called for the Legislature to agree to his plan to increase the fee to obtain a gun license in the state from $2 to $50. He noted the fee that hasn’t changed since 1966, but legislative leaders have so far opposed the hike.
Full, original story: www.nj.com