The gun control debate continues to rage on in Trenton as the State Senate House keeps incrementally advancing bills.

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The package doesn't include a measure that would limit the amount of rounds in an ammunition clip to 10, but Assembly Democratic leaders are no longer saying they won't move the Senate bills without it.

Yesterday, the full Upper House approved 10 bills that will help keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, crack down on gun trafficking, improve reporting and tracing of illegal firearms by law enforcement and find ways to reduce violence and improve school safety, among other actions.

"This is significant progress on a plan to reduce gun violence that will serve as a national model," says Senate President Steve Sweeney, the plan's lead sponsor. "We will act on the centerpiece of the plan at the next Senate session that will combine with the bills approved today to create a comprehensive plan for gun safety. These are important improvements that will help make our streets and communities safer and more secure."

The centerpiece of the plan would overhaul and modernize the state's permitting process, require background checks for all gun sales, including private transactions, require safety training and provide for the immediate loss of a gun license for those convicted of a crime or ordered into involuntary commitment. Sweeney says that bill will be posted for a vote May 30.

"We have to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them and we have to crack down on illegal sales and trafficking," says Senator Donald Norcross, one of the lead sponsors of the gun safety plan. "Illicit gun sales, trafficking and straw purchases have contributed to a wave of crime and violence on the streets and in the neighborhoods of too many communities. These bills will help bring more safety and security to the streets of our cities, schools, businesses and places of worship."

Assembly Open To Moving Senate Bills

Democratic leaders in the Assembly had originally said they absolutely would not advance any bills in the Senate gun control package unless an ammo clip limit measure was included. They have softened that stance.

"The Assembly has led the fight for meaningful gun violence prevention legislation, and while the Senate package is incomplete without ammunition magazine limits, we will review the revised bills to see if they continue to meet the Assembly's standards," says Speaker Sheila Oliver. "If so, the Assembly will move forward appropriately while continuing the fight to limit ammunition capacity."

Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald says he's been working closely with gun safety advocates to facilitate the changes that were made to the bills in the Senate.

"We will now take a close look at these bills to make certain they indeed represent meaningful reform and will continue our fight with gun safety advocates to limit ammunition capacity, but we're encouraged by the progress," explains Greenwald.

"This package is incomplete without the ammunition restrictions and it's a matter when, not if, that bill passes, but we are taking steps forward."

Senate Bills

The bills approved by the Senate on Monday:

  • Would crack down on illegal gun sales and transfers with new penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchases, upgrade penalties for gun dealers who knowingly sell to those who intend to transfer the weapon to an ineligible person, and disqualify gun traffickers from early release from prison and require they serve at least 85 percent of their term.
  • Would improve the reporting, tracing and collection of illegal firearms by requiring law enforcement to report certain information to inter-jurisdictional electronic databases, including the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network and the New Jersey Trace System
  • Would include mental health data and criminal records on those not allowed to own or possess firearms in records included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
  • Establish a School Security Task Force to find ways to make schools safe and secure.
  • Declare violence a health crisis, which could qualify for outside funds and create a commission to study violence and mental health.
  • Would allow for motor vehicles used in the commission of a crime, including illegal weapons, to be impounded.
  • Make aggregate number of firearms purchaser identification cards and permits subject to Open Public Records Act.
  • Would have the Department of Education develop an informative pamphlet for schools to distribute to the parents of all their students.
  • Provide a 180 day window for persons to dispose of certain unlawfully possessed firearms.
  • Change from second-degree to third-degree the crime of possession for an unlawful purpose when the weapon is a BB gun.

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