The New Jersey Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee passed Assembly Bill 1216, which increases the penalty for possessing a firearm on the grounds of an educational institution from a third degree crime to a second degree crime, Ammo Land reports. As you may recall, this bill caused a stir because it would have thrown kids in the slammer for bringing a BB gun to school. A few last minute edits to the bill cut that part out, thankfully, but A1216 passed mostly intact.
The bill, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Linda Stender (Dem), brings on a whole new world of hurt for anybody bringing a gun to school (or unwittingly transporting someone who was carrying a gun). As a second degree crime, penalties now include a prison sentence of five to ten years and/or a $150,000 fine, all without giving the judge much wiggle room in sentencing.
Just to be clear, possessing a firearm for an unlawful purpose is already a second degree crime in NJ, so this will only ever apply to people who possess a firearm, but intend to use it lawfully. So, if criminals would already get the book thrown at them for using a gun illegally, why make a law that would only ever apply to law-abiding citizens who make honest mistakes? Pro-gun control or not, that’s just silly.
Predictably, the vote fell along party lines. The four Republicans voted against, and the seven Democrats voted for. You can find the voting record here, and the contact information of the Assemblymen here.