BREAKING: New Jersey House Passes 22 Gun Control Bills

NJ Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (courtesy philly.com)

“The New Jersey Assembly’s majority Democrats, citing the elementary-school massacre in Newtown, Conn., passed 22 gun-control bills Thursday that backers said would help curb gun violence,” philly.com reported at 3am this morning. The new bills limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds (A1329), outlaw .50 caliber rifles (A3659), create weapon-free school zones (A1387), require background checks for private gun sales (A3748) and require safety training for people seeking firearm purchase permits (A3510). [Breakdown of provisions after the jump.] “We are not seeking to prevent law-abiding citizens from purchasing, owning, utilizing their guns. We are not trying to impede hunters and sportsmen in the state,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D., Essex) said before the votes. Senate passage is a done deal. All eyes turn to Governor Christie, whose non-committal comments offer little cause for hope of a veto . . .

“I’m a little surprised at how quickly they’ve done it,” Christie said Thursday after a political event in Sea Bright, where he picked up the Democratic mayor’s endorsement. “This is a very difficult issue and a complex one. And one that our national government has taken a long time to look at and study. It’s amazing to me how quickly the Assembly can move when they want to.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, another one bites the dust. Here are the new laws’ provisions as described by the Associated Press:

Among the measures adopted by the New Jersey Assembly to change New Jersey’s gun laws, bills would:

 Reduce the maximum capacity of magazines to 10 rounds, as also proposed in federal legislation. New Jersey already has a 15-round cap. Retired police officers would be exempt from the reduction.

 Ban online sales of weapons and ammunition, requiring all ammunition and weapon sales to be face-to-face. It was sponsored in response to the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, where authorities said the shooter amassed an arsenal of ammunition and explosives from purchases he made over the Internet.

 Require background checks on private sales of handguns, rifles, or shotguns through a licensed retail dealer. Transactions between immediate family members, law enforcement officers and licensed collectors would be exempt.

 Require submission of certain mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a submission not considered mandatory under current law.

 Establish a 180-day prohibition, up from 30 days, on handgun purchases for those convicted of failing to report loss or theft of firearm.

 Require a firearms safety training class as a condition to obtain a permit to purchase a firearm and a firearm purchaser ID card. Applicants who have law enforcement or military weapons training could substitute their experience for the class.

 Require that firearms purchaser ID cards display a picture and be renewed every five years. Cards under existing law do not display a picture and do not expire. Gun purchasers must obtain both a firearms purchaser ID card and a permit to purchase a firearm.

 Exempt firearms records from the state’s open records law. The bill clarifies ambiguity in existing law that does not firmly state rules about access to these records. The bill was sponsored in response to a New York newspaper’s publication of a map locating firearm permit-holders, which sponsors said they would not want to see happen in New Jersey.

 Ban individuals convicted of any of more than 30 different types of crimes from purchasing, owning, or possessing firearms.

 Prohibit the state Treasury from investing any assets of pensions or annuity funds in companies that manufacture, import, or sell assault firearms for civilian use. The bill exempts investments in companies that manufacture, import, or sell assault firearms for use by the military or law enforcement agencies.

 Prohibit handgun ammunition capable of penetrating body armor.

 Revise definition of a destructive device to include a ban on certain weapons that are .50-caliber or higher. It does not affect certain shotguns and shotgun ammunitions used for sporting purposes of that caliber, as well as antique firearms, antique handguns, muzzleloader rifles, and certain black powder muzzleloaders would also be exempt.

 Prohibit a person named on the consolidated federal terrorist watch list from obtaining a firearm by disqualifying him or her from being issued a firearms ID card or a permit to purchase a handgun.

 Allow the attorney general to seize firearms in the possession of people deemed by a mental health professional to be a threat to themselves or others.

 Establish a 90-day period for a person to dispose of a weapon owned illegally. The legislation would assure that owners of any weapon or magazines that become illegal under a change in New Jersey law have time to dispose of the weapon or ammunition.

 Require law enforcement agencies to report information relating to seized firearms to a database available to all law enforcement agencies. The information is meant to determine if any of the firearms were reported lost or stolen or are connected to any crimes. It also would determine the weapon’s original purchaser. The bill is similar to one in the federal gun control package.

 Establish a 15-member task force to study issues of school safety.

 Authorize municipalities to establish weapon-free zones around schools, day-care centers, public housing facilities, and public buildings such as libraries and museums. It would encompass areas that are 1,000 feet around a school, college, or university. The bill only targets those found unlawfully carrying a weapon, not people who obtained their firearms legally.