First step toward banning, confiscating bump stocks in NJ
A plan to ban the sale and possession in New Jersey of attachments called bump stocks that make semiautomatic rifles shoot faster, like those used in the mass shooting in Las Vegas two months ago, sailed through an Assembly committee Thursday.
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, said bump stocks and trigger cranks essentially turn semiautomatic weapons into fully automatic ones. Those have been banned here since the 1930s.
“There’s no need for bump stocks as accessories to be anywhere in New Jersey. The state of New Jersey bans automatic weapons for a reason. They’re weapons of war,” Quijano said.
Supporters of the bill called it a step in the right direction but that they are under no illusions that a bump stock ban would end mass shootings. Karen Kanter, the Middlesex County chair of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the bill isn’t a debate about the Second Amendment.
“Preventing mass murder, made possible by such devices as bump stock conversion kits, ought to be a no-brainer,” Kanter said.
Gun-rights groups didn’t fight the idea fiercely, though lobbyist Rob Nixon of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs said it’s not needed because state law already prohibits them from being used in the state because they include two ‘offensive features’ – a telescoping stock and pistol grip.
“There really isn’t a whole lot for this bill to do because New Jersey law and attorney general directive have already deemed them to be prohibited in New Jersey,” Nixon said. “So this isn’t really a New Jersey related issue.”
Though bump stocks can’t be used in New Jersey, they can be legally purchased and owned.
The National Rifle Association opposed the bill, though didn’t testify.
Alexander Roubian of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society didn’t object to the bump-stock bill but says lawmakers should also legalize adjustable stocks, which aren’t allowed under a 1999 directive from the state attorney general.
He says an adjustable stock makes a rifle useable by people of different heights but doesn’t make it concealable, change its functionality or make it more lethal.
“So if you want to reduce the amount of firearms that are being purchased in New Jersey, as well, this would be a good way of doing it,” Roubian said.
The vote by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee was 8-0, with six Democrats and two Republicans – Michael Patrick Carroll and Erik Petersen – in favor. One Republican voted to abstain, Assemblyman Edward Thomson, R-Monmouth.
Another Republican, Nancy Munoz, said she supports the bill but thinks it should go farther.
“The penalties should be stronger, and the confiscation of bump stocks should happen faster and in a uniform fashion,” Munoz said.
The bill would make possessing a bump stock a third-degree crime and require any already in the state to be turned over to police within 90 days. Munoz is sponsoring a bill making it a second-degree crime and requiring them to be yielded within 60 days.
Friday is the two-month anniversary of a mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured 546 others on the Las Vegas Strip.