TRENTON – Today’s lists of bills lined up for votes in the Senate and Assembly illustrate just how divergent their handling of Gov. Phil Murphy’s guns agenda has become.

The Assembly board list includes a package of eight bills and resolutions that could get that house’s approval. But in the Senate, just one of those has advanced – and it still needs another vote in the budget committee, so even it isn’t ready for a vote in that full house.

The bill that moved forward in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee would require gun owners who move into New Jersey to register their handguns within 60 days of arriving, which Sen. Joseph Cyran, D-Union, said is a simple thing.

“I find it frankly unbelievable that it’s so much of an outrage to ask that folks bringing firearms into our state let us know that they’re doing it,” Cryan said.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Darin Goens said the bill won’t prevent crimes and won’t help the police investigate them so doesn’t see how it would be effective.

“Our membership has concerns that people moving into this state are going to run afoul of this, and it’s another New Jersey gun law where somebody innocent is going to get caught up in this,” Goens said.

Cryan agreed to amend the bill to make the penalties a $250 civil fine for a first offense, no matter how many handguns aren’t registered, and disorderly persons offenses for repeat offenses. He also altered the bill to apply only to handguns.

Neither of those changes are in the current Assembly version of the bill.

And even with those concessions, Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, said the Legislature is moving in wrong direction by not focusing on penalties for people with criminal intent.

“We have resorted to tying law enforcement’s hands over time and making it harder for law-abiding citizens in our state,” Bucco said.

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One gun-related measure is scheduled for a Senate vote Monday – requiring family members and victims to be notified when firearms are returned to a person charged with domestic violence or subject to an extreme risk protective order. If passed, the bill would head to Murphy.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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