This is what passes for progress in the gun-controlled paradise that is New Jersey. The state has finally repealed a law that required all guns sold in the Garden State to be so-called smart guns once smart guns are available for sale anywhere in the United States.
That law acted as a poison pill for 17 years, preventing the development and sale of “smart guns” nationwide as no manufacturer or retailer wanted to trigger the law and limit New Jersey’s gun owners’ choice of firearms. If triggered, it would have become a virtual ban on the sale of firearms in the state.
Never mind that the state of the smart gun art is still something far less than reliable, thanks in large part to the new Jersey law. The first smart gun that was touted as market ready was an utter failure that was easily hacked and its safety mechanism disabled.
But besides repealing the old poison pill law, a new bill that was signed into law yesterday by Governor Phil Murphy now requires that every gun store in the state will be required to sell at least one smart gun model. Not only that, but a state commission will be established to approve the smart guns that can be sold there.
What could possibly go wrong?
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed into law a measure to make so-called smart guns available in the state, reversing his predecessor’s vetoes of similar legislation.
Murphy, a Democrat, signed the bill at Governor Livingston High School alongside Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, lawmakers, local officials and at least a couple dozen members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America who were wearing red T-shirts.
The measure sets up a commission to approve smart guns, which are personalized firearms that can be fired only by authorized users. The measure also repeals part of a 2002 law that was blamed for the slow pace of getting smart guns to market.
The new measure also requires that retailers offer a personalized gun for sale as they become available.
Murphy said he is confident the new law will succeed because it will allow research and development on smart guns to go forward, unlike prior law.
“The last one had the unintended consequence … which basically allowed the enormous amount of pressure on the gun manufacturers to not pursue the R&D that was necessary.”
Murphy was referencing the 2002 law that said when a smart gun became available anywhere in the country, New Jersey retailers could offer only those weapons for sale.
Second Amendment rights supporters pushed back against the development of smart guns over concerns that their marketability would amount to a handgun ban in New Jersey, according to Murphy and the law’s sponsors.
Republican Chris Christie vetoed similar legislation in 2016, saying that the Democrat-led Legislature was seeking to make the state as “inhospitable” to gun owners as possible.
Scott Bach, the head of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, criticized the law and said lawmaker were trying to force smart guns into the marketplace.
“Swapping one failed mandate for another dooms smart guns to failure,” Bach said.
Murphy also signed three other measures aimed at stopping gun violence. One bill requires that the attorney general and health commissioner come up with a suicide prevention and training course for gun sellers.
Another bill restricts people convicted of serious crimes from buying firearms, as well as barring the sale of guns without a serial number. A fourth bill makes it a crime to solicit a gun from someone who is already legally disqualified from buying a weapon.
Tuesday’s laws were the second batch of gun-related measures the first-term governor has signed. Murphy campaigned on a platform of strengthening New Jersey’s already strong gun control measures.
“I am proud to work with our legislators to implement some of the toughest gun laws in the country to protect our residents and make our communities safer for all,” Murphy said Tuesday.
Among the bills he signed in 2018 was a measure reducing magazine capacity from 15 to 10 rounds as well as legislation requiring mental health professionals to warn law enforcement if a patient threatens serious violence against themselves or others.