The New Jersey Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on Thursday unanimously passed a measure to prohibit the sale or possession of a controversial firearm accessory.
The bill, A5200, was introduced to the body and approved 7-0 on the same day with an aim to make the sale or possession of bump stocks or trigger cranks a third-degree criminal offense in New Jersey.
“There’s no need for bump stocks as accessories to be anywhere in New Jersey,” state Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, sponsor of the measure, told the panel, saying she had never heard of the devices until recently. “The state of New Jersey bans automatic weapons for a reason– they are weapons of war.”
Her bill modifies state law so that a firearm affixed to a bump stock constitutes an “assault weapon” while a firearm affixed with a trigger crank constitutes a machine gun. Violations are a felony that carries $10,000 in potential fines and can result in as much as 5 years in prison.
However, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, the state’s NRA affiliate, contend the move goes after something that is already banned in the state under a combination of existing laws.
“The legislation would not make anyone safer and would not change the fact that bump stocks are already prohibited in the Garden State,” says the group in a statement. “They would remain prohibited whether the legislation passes or is defeated, so the effort to move the bill appears largely symbolic and calculated to make headlines.”
Should the ban pass the state legislature it would have to be signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie. The term-limited outgoing Republican has often scuttled any attempt at gun control by state lawmakers but in October said he was open to bump stock legislation.
Governor-elect Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is in favor of more regulation on firearms and has publicly stated he is ready to sign any gun control measure vetoed by the Christie administration.
Currently, the devices are unlawful to use in California, Massachusetts, and New York.