Lawmakers on Monday greenlighted a half-dozen Democrat-backed measures aimed at ratcheting up New Jersey’s already tight gun laws.
The bills reduce magazine limits, adds a “red flag” law to rapidly allow for firearm seizures when someone is thought to be a threat, bans armor-piercing ammunition, expands background checks and makes it harder to obtain a firearm permit.
Republicans only hold 26 seats in the 80-member chamber, a margin that allowed Assembly Dems to bulldoze through the package with ease. Gov. Phil Murphy, a newly installed Democrat who replaced Republican Chris Christie this year, said he is eager for the legislature to finish their work with the proposals so he can sign them into law.
“I applaud the General Assembly for passing these commonsense gun measures to protect our communities and families,” said Murphy in a statement. “I look forward to the State Senate taking these bills up as quickly as possible and sending them to my desk for my signature.”
AB 1181 requires a healthcare professional to contact police if they think an individual they have contact with may be a threat to themselves or others. Authorities would then be obligated to check if the person has a firearms permit and evaluate obtaining an order to impound their guns from a local court. The measure passed with broad support, 62-7.
AB 1217 establishes an Extreme Risk Protection Order process, which does much the same thing as A1181 but allows family members and friends to petition the court for a one-year gun ban on those who they feel are at risk. The bill passed 59-12.
AB 2757 requires background checks on almost all guns transferred in the state with exemptions for firearms loaned among “immediate family” or licensed collectors. It was approved 62-10.
AB 2758: Republicans came out in force to oppose this measure, which codifies a repeal by Murphy of Christie-era guidelines that made it slightly easier to get a firearms license in New Jersey. For Dems, their numbers carried the day and the measure passed 48-26 along party lines.
AB 2759 swept the Assembly in a unanimous vote and aims to ban some types of ammunition on the pretext of keeping police safe. The move would adopt the federal definition of armor piercing ammunition as state law and make possession a fourth-degree felony, a crime which carries 18 months in jail and a fine of as much as $10,000.
AB 2761 reduces the legal maximum capacity of detachable magazines in the state from 15 to 10 rounds. Those who currently own such mags would be able to keep them if the bill becomes law, after registering the devices with police and paying a $50 fee. Republicans opposed the measure, but in the end, it passed 48-25.
“The people of New Jersey overwhelming want this action, not merely more thoughts and prayers,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, on Monday, citing weekend demonstrations by gun control advocates sparked by the fatal shooting of 17 faculty and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.