New Jersey lawmakers send bump stock ban, ‘buyback’ plan to Christie for signature

A measure gun rights advocates say is unneeded will soon land on Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s desk alongside a bill to put the state in the gun “buyback” business.

The first proposal, S-3477/A-5200 passed the state Assembly by a unanimous vote Monday after clearing the state Senate by a similar margin last week and establishes the crime of possessing or selling a bump stock or trigger crank in New Jersey as a felony.

“There’s no need for bump stocks as accessories to be anywhere in New Jersey,” said state Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, sponsor of the measure. “The state of New Jersey bans automatic weapons for a reason– they are weapons of war.”

The move aims to make the use of bump stocks or trigger cranks a second-degree criminal offense in New Jersey, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $150,000. Simple possession or sale of the devices themselves would be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.

In an alert this week, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, the state’s NRA affiliate, argues the legislation now headed to Christie would not make anyone safer nor would it change the fact that bump stocks are already the subject of a de facto ban in the Garden State under existing law.

“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,” the group says. “Hardware bans are ignored by criminals and are easily circumvented by those bent on doing evil — who will not be deterred and will simply find another tool. Only those who follow the law are impacted, which solves nothing.”

California and New York already ban the devices while the only state to do so post-Las Vegas has been Massachusetts, where Republican Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito last November signed a proposal adding new definitions to state law of “Bump stock” and “Trigger Crank,” regulating each in turn.

Christie, with a long history of scuttling Democrat-backed gun control moves, has signaled he would support a ban on bump stocks.

Buyback mandate

Besides the bump stock prohibition, state lawmakers gave final approval Monday to a bill, A-2374, that would require the New Jersey Attorney General to establish an anonymous statewide “gun buyback” program where citizens could voluntarily surrender firearms for a monetary reward. Officials would be obligated to hold at least three events per year throughout the state, at least one of which must be held in an urban area with a high crime. The program would be paid for through forfeiture funds and private donations.

“Some people will find any reason to attack proposals meant to protect the public from gun violence,” said sponsor, Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, D-Camden/Burlington. “This bill would simply give gun owners who want to get rid of their weapons another avenue to do so. Surely this is something even they can get behind.”

The Senate passed the measure, 28-7, while the Assembly approved the bill, 51-6.

Similar legislation was proposed in 2014 and a series state-organized events last August garnered nearly 5,000 firearms in two-days.