‘Ghost guns?’ NJ lawmakers aim to crack down on untraceable guns
TRENTON — New Jersey lawmakers advanced a measure to prohibit the purchase of firearms parts used to make untraceable weapons, or so-called ghost guns.
The Democrat-led Senate law and public safety committee approved the measure on Monday. The panel is also considering a half-dozen gun-controlled measures that have cleared the Democrat-controlled Assembly.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has said he generally supports measures aimed at tightening the state's already-strict gun laws.
The ghost-gun bill calls for barring the purchase of separate parts or kits that could be used to manufacture a firearm that cannot be traced by law enforcement.
It is already unlawful to make a handgun, rifle or shotgun without a license and manufacturing a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or assault firearm is also illegal.
Critics said the ‘ghost gun’ bill would make it a crime to have a big piece of steel or 3D printer, but Sen. Joseph Cryan, D-Union, said that’s not the case.
“Anyone who buys a bar of steel at Home Depot could in theory be a criminal under this law,” said Marcus Hirschhorn of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society.
“What are we doing here? Are we going to start to seize 3D printers? Is that the intent of this bill?” said Woodbridge resident Frank Trombatore. “Are we going to raid Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware?”
“You have to have a purpose to do this,” Cryan said. “If you go to Home Depot to buy some things, you’re not going to get arrested in the Home Depot parking lot.”
The hearing lasted longer than five hours, though it’ll probably be another seven weeks until they’re approved and reach Gov. Phil Murphy in June.
The package includes bills allowing firearms to be seized from people deemed dangerous, reducing ammunition magazines and expanding background checks to private gun sales.
Hopewell Valley Central High School student Ethan Block says the bills would help ensure school safety and that armed guards and high-tech security cameras aren’t enough.
“That threat needs to be terminated long before they have the opportunity to step on school grounds. Do not be mistaken. This is about the guns,” Block said.
Craig Deer says the package of bills lacks ideas that are proven to protect kids like armed resource officers or allowing teachers to have guns.
“I got a feeling that these people hate guns more than they love their children. Why aren’t they talking about issues to protect the kids? Because none of these issues do,” he said.
Anthony Colandro, executive vice president of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, expressed frustration. He said many of his customers at the Gun For Hire range in Woodland Park have told him they’ll refuse to comply with the new laws.
“We the people have had enough. I’ve had enough,” Colandro said. “We are tired of you rich socialists running every aspect of our lives while we are required to shut up, work and pay our taxes.”
Firearms trainer Tony Simon of South River says gun-control efforts are a 400-year-old strategy to control black people in the United States.
“Gun control in America is racist at its very core. It was used by racists to enslave and control an entire race,” Simon said.
Cryan, who sponsors two of the bills, said the proposals aren’t about race.
“The only race I’m interested here is the one between a human life and a speeding bullet,” Cryan said.
The bills had plenty of supporters testify in favor of them, as well.
“I’m here as a mother, as a gun-violence advocate. I’m not getting paid. I’m not a lobbyist,” said Sue Hannon, president of the Sussex County chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “I’m here because I really believe, and like a lot of the people here believe, that there is a gun violence epidemic in this country. And these are the ways that we can save people’s lives.”
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