Murphy says top Democrat is holding up gun control plan
TRENTON — The tension between Gov. Phil Murphy and state Senate President Steve Sweeney would appear to be getting worse.
Murphy is publicly urging Sweeney, who is also a Democrat, to act quickly on proposed gun safety legislation so it can be become law before lawmakers go on summer break in a few weeks.
During a stop in Westfield — where a man armed with a .45 caliber handgun loaded with hollow point bullets and 130 rounds of ammunition was arrested in Tamaques Elementary school parking lot last week — the governor said a four-part plan had been put forth to strengthen New Jersey’s already strong gun laws in the wake of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October.
The plan, which focused on closing loopholes to make it easier to go after gun traffickers, regulating and tracking the sale of ammunition, promoting the creation of smart-gun technology and investing in community-based non violence and gun-violence prevention programs, led to 13 proposed bills.
Murphy pointed out the entire legislative package has been introduced in the Assembly, but only eight of the 13 bills in the package are going to be considered in the state Senate.
“What is being left out are bills that would enact meaningful ammunition regulation and firearms ID modernization and training, and those are big omissions," Murphy said.
Murphy's comments came on the same day the state announced its lawsuit against a Nevada firearms retailer that sold an undercover agent in New Jersey magazines that could take 15, 30 and 100 rounds. New Jersey law limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds.
The state is seeking $10,000 fines per violation and an order barring the company from advertising or selling large-capacity magazines in New Jersey.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the state previously had sent the retailer a cease and desist letter and the company said that it would comply by not selling such magazines to New Jersey.
Grewal on Wednesday said that if the state discovers if anyone in New Jersey purchased the large-capacity magazines from the company, they would be held "accountable."
Murphy said the most crucial bill in his package “would require a photo ID to purchase ammunition, for retailers to keep an electronic record, and to report any purchases of ammunition to the State Police.”
“It’s a commonsense way to ensure gun traffickers can’t buy ammo, and that highly suspicious purchases are properly tracked by the state police," he said.
Murphy also pointed out that Sweeney has also refused “bring gun licensing fees into the 21st Century.”
Murphy has proposed raising the handgun application fee from $2 to $50, the purchase of an ID card from $5 to $100, and the cost of a permit to carry a handgun from $20 to $400. Gun licensing fees were last increased in New Jersey in 1966.
Murphy said without the gun increase fee increase, “it will continue to cost New Jerseyans more to buy a license for their dog than it will for someone to get a license for a gun.”
Sweeney's office did not return a request for comment on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com