You have to pass a written and road test before you can get a driver's license in New Jersey. A pair of Garden State lawmakers said the same rule should apply for first-time gun owners.

(Paul Moore, ThinkStock)

Assemblymen Tim Eustace (D-Paramus) and Joe Lagana (D-Paramus) recently introduced legislation to require anyone who applies for an initial firearms purchaser identification card or gun permit to successfully complete a firearms education program.

"It just makes good sense to have some sort of education on owning and using a gun," Eustace said. "It would be probably the equivalent of the boat safety course. In order to operate a boat in New Jersey, you have to take a boat safety class."

Under the bill, the program would be developed and approved by the Superintendent of State Police. Those who pass the training course would be given a certificate which would be required for the initial purchase a handgun, but not for a renewal of an I.D. card or permit.

"Both Assemblyman Lagana and I are gun owners. We're not anti-gun. We're pro-safety. It's not a matter of over-burdening gun owners. I would think it would make sense to anybody to want to be responsible," Eustace explained.

Firearms training through law enforcement or the military service would exempt gun buyers from having to complete the education program. The bill also does not apply to currently licensed gun owners in New Jersey.

"Lawmakers can incentivize firearms training, but it is unconstitutional to mandate it as a condition to exercising a fundamental right," wrote Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of NJ Rifle & Pistol Clubs in an emailed statement. "The government can no sooner force someone to take a public speaking course before they can exercise the First Amendment."

In a press release statement, Lagana said, "Gun accident prevention begins with ensuring that prospective gun owners understand what responsible gun ownership entails."