Smart guns can only be fired by the owner. They exist, but they’re not sold commercially in the United States. On Monday. a New Jersey law made it illegal to sell any other guns once smart guns are available for purchase.

Photo credit: Boris Katsman, ThinkStock

The State Senate passed legislation (S-3249) Monday to eliminate the 13-year-old statute. It would require every firearms wholesale or retail dealer to maintain an inventory of at least one smart gun that would have to be displayed in the salesroom and offered for purchase.

“This is extremely important in terms of safety for a variety of reasons,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) who co-sponsored the measure. “If you keep a gun in your home because you feel you need it for safety reasons, your children or anybody else in the household, if they find it by accident or get access to it, won’t be able to fire it. If your gun is stolen the thief won’t be able to fire it. The safety features are very, very obvious.”

Twenty-one votes were need for a bill to pass. The legislation passed with 22 votes from Senate Democrats. No Republican senator voted in favor of it.

“To have the government mandate what private businesses can and cannot sell, I think that’s wrong,” said NJ Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Washington). “That’s seems a lot like the Soviet Union to me, having a command economy from the government.”

Nobody has to buy a smart gun if they don’t want one, Weinberg said. Another bill sponsor said people are killed and crimes are committed with stolen guns every day and he defied anyone to say that the new law wouldn’t do anything to stop that.

“It’s pretty simple. (It’s) your gun, only your hand can fire it. What’s the problem?” asked State Sen. And former Gov. Dick Codey (D-Livingston).

Gov. Chris Christie's office has not yet responded to calls seeking comment on the legislation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in 2013, the last year for which data was available, the total number of firearm deaths in the United States was 33,636.

By age group, the number of deaths resulting from the accidental discharge of a firearm were as follows:

  • Under 1 year: 3
  • 1-3 years: 27
  • 5-14 years: 39
  • 15-24 years: 107
  • 25-34 years: 82
  • 35-44 years: 48
  • 45-54 years: 80
  • 55-64 years: 59
  • 65-74 years: 35
  • 75-84 years: 18
  • 85+ years: 7

Also according to the CDC, in New Jersey, the number of firearm deaths in 2013 was 506 out of a total population of 8,899,339 in the state.

Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.