“Gov. Chris Christie today signed 10 bills concerning gun ownership, but left on his desk five other gun control measures — including the most controversial ones,” nj.com reports. The Garden State Governor didn’t sign the bill banning 50-caliber rifles or the “kitchen sink” firearms ID card bill (S2723). But he did put his John Hancock on the following measures . . .
• Upgrade the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm from a second- or third-degree offense to a first-degree crime. Previously, unlawful possession of machine guns, handguns and assault firearms had been a second-degree crime and a third-degree crime in the case of rifles and shotguns. The bill would also increase mandatory minimum sentences for such offenses by six months. (S2804)
• Make the crime of firearms trafficking subject to the No Early Release Act, which requires offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their terms. The bill also requires authorities to seize cars used to smuggle weapons into New Jersey and increases penalties on dealers who knowingly sell guns to customers disqualified from possessing them, requiring them to serve at least 18 months in prison. (S2719)
• Allow authorities to impound cars if an occupant illegally possesses a weapon. The bill also allows authorities to impound cars used in cases of prostitution and buying or selling illegal drugs. (S2468)
• Increase penalties for those who unlawfully sell or give a gun to an underage person from a third- to second-degree crime with a minimum mandatory prison sentence of five years. (S1279) . . .
Others bills Christie signed today would give people a 180-day window to get rid of certain illegal guns (A3796); make law a state regulation exempting firearm owner information from the state’s Open Public Records Act (A3788) and clarify that the total number of gun permits in a town are public record (S2720); require submission of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (A3717); and create a study commission on violence (S2430).
There’s a lot to not like about the new New Jersey gun control laws. The scariest of them all: A3687. The new law disqualifies people on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List from owning guns. Which is . . . who? You? Sorry, secret. Here’s the relevant bit from the FBI’s FAQ:
Can I find out if I am in the TSDB?
The TSC [Terrorist Screening Center] cannot reveal whether a particular person is in the TSDB [Terrorist Screening Database]. The TSDB remains an effective tool in the government’s counterterrorism efforts because its contents are not disclosed. If TSC revealed who was in the TSDB, terrorist organizations would be able to circumvent the purpose of the terrorist watchlist by determining in advance which of their members are likely to be questioned or detained.
Once again, it’s critical to note that the criteria for getting onto the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List are secret. The process for getting off the list is uncodified. This is how they deal with that.
Filing a Redress Inquiry
The TSC does not accept redress inquiries directly from the public. Instead, members of the public should contact the relevant screening agency with their questions or concerns about screening. The screening agency is in the best position to identify and resolve issues related to that agency’s screening process.
The FBI Terrorist Watch List is riddled with errors, as the National Shooting Sports Foundation reminds us:
The watch list, which contained more than 1.1 million identities, including aliases, as of the end of 2008, is fraught with errors.
A 2009 Department of Justice audit of the terrorist watch list nominating process found that several major problems with the nomination practices including names not added that should have been, former subjects of closed investigations that were supposed to have been removed years ago, and deceased individuals. In 72 percent of the cases reviewed, the individuals were not removed “in a timely manner.”
The FBI may nominate individuals to the watch list that aren’t the subject of a terrorist investigation. More than 62,000 watch list records were created through this process. The audit found “the controls over these types of nominations to be weak or nonexistent.”
Here’s the problem: what if one or more of Uncle Sam’s alphabet agencies decides to put a whole class of people onto the Terrorist Watch List? Like, I dunno, members of the NRA. Or anyone who owns a 50-caliber rifle. Or someone who wanted to secure tax-exempt status for a conservative leaning lobby group. What then?
If the listee–who doesn’t even know they’re on the List—lives in New Jersey, the State Police SWAT team can now pay a midnight, no-knock visit to make sure the suspected terrorist has surrendered their firearms (having discovered their status telepathically). How great is that?
If you think about it, the new law makes New Jersey Uncle Sam’s bitch, as the state police are swooping on folks ID’ed by the feds. Same as it ever was. Only worse. That said, the bill helps Christie’s presidential aspirations; he will no doubt paint this new law as proof that he’s tough on terrorism. Truth be told, Christie is no friend of ours. But I guess you knew that already.