New Jersey Assembly Passes Six New Gun Control Measures

But Southern Ocean County’s Assembly Members Support Only One
Apr 04, 2018

New Jersey is on the cusp of making its already strict gun control laws even stricter, although it is doing so mostly without the support of Southern Ocean County’s representatives in Trenton.

Several states, fearing that nothing will ever get done in Washington, have taken matters into their own hands and passed or are in the progress of passing new gun control laws in the wake of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and the resulting wave of school walkouts and March For Our Lives demonstrations.  Some are loath to pass such legislation.

Vermont, where hunting is a passion, has some of the laxest gun laws in the country, a point with which Hillary Clinton pounded its junior senator, Bernie Sanders, in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. Indeed, carry permits, either open or concealed, aren’t required in the Green Mountain State. But Parkland and the February arrest of an 18-year-old who was discovered with detailed plans to shoot up a Vermont high school spurred the state’s lawmakers as never before, and they passed a bill that raises the age for purchasing a firearm to 21, imposes universal background checks for all gun purchases, bans the sale of bump stocks and partially bans high-capacity magazines.

Meanwhile, a bill that would allow police to take firearms and explosives away from people judged to be an extreme risk to themselves or others is winding its way through the legislative process after the Vermont Senate approved it by a 30-0 vote. One senator, Randy Brock, a Republican who is an NRA member with an A-plus rating from the group explained his vote by saying, “This is not a gun control law. This is a lunatic control law.”

Florida is certainly known as an NRA bastion. But Parkland, along with dedicated Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivors, provided the impetus to push through legislation that raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, imposed a three-day waiting period on gun purchases and banned bump stocks.

Other states, decidedly “blue,” also ramped up their gun control efforts. It isn’t surprising that a ballot initiative has been proposed in Oregon that would restrict the sale, production and ownership of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines or that the governor of Rhode Island issued a “red flag” executive order that urges law enforcement to use “all available legal steps” to remove firearms from those who have shown warning signs such as making threats of violence either in person or online.

Nor is it particularly shocking that New Jersey is ratcheting up its gun control efforts. After all, Democrats control the Assembly by a 54-to-26 count and the Senate, 25 to 15. And the bane of gun control advocates, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, is gone, replaced by Democrat Phil Murphy.

A half-dozen new gun control bills were passed by the New Jersey Assembly last week despite vehement opposition by Second Amendment supporters. Only one, far and away the least controversial, was supported by Southern Ocean County’s Assembly members.

A-1217 allows for judges to issue restraining orders that would seize the guns of people determined to be a significant risk to themselves or others after a household member or law enforcement officer files a petition to do so. The order, which would also ban such people from purchasing firearms, could be in effect for up to a year.

The bill passed easily, 59-12 with three members not voting and five abstaining. That means at least some Republicans had to cross the aisle. But 9th District Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf cast one of the no votes; Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove abstained. Both are Republicans.

A-1181 allows law enforcement to confiscate the firearms of those deemed dangerous to themselves or others by certain mental health professionals. It passed even more easily than its abovementioned cousin – 62-7 with three non-voters and seven abstentions. Rumpf, again, was one of the no votes; Gove again abstained.

A-2758, which would make it much harder for a person to obtain a carry permit (opponents say it would make it impossible except for ex-law enforcement officers), was controversial. It passed 48-26, with those same three non-votes along with two abstentions. Rumpf and Gove were both against it.

A-2757, which requires private gun sales to go through licensed gun dealers and a background check during the process, passed by a 62-10 count, along with four abstentions and three non-voters. Once again, both Rumpf and Gove opposed the measure.

The 9th District duo did vote yes on A-2759, which bans armor-piercing bullets. That vote was almost unanimous, with nobody voting against it and only one abstention.

But Rumpf and Gove voted no on A-2761, which limits magazines to 10 rounds, down from the current 15. It, too, was controversial, passing by a relatively close 48-25-3-3 count.

The major reason A-2761 was hotly debated is that there are many firearms that don’t employ clips but rather have self-contained magazines. That’s especially true for .22 rifles.

So the bill had exemptions. One exempts semi-automatic .22 rifles with an “attached tubular magazine” and specifically mentions the popular Marlin Model 60. It also allows current owners to permanently modify existing weapons. Former police officers who are authorized to possess and carry a handgun in New Jersey can also carry a magazine holding up to 15 rounds.

Indeed, owners of weapons with a magazine capacity of between 11 and 15 rounds that cannot be permanently modified will be able to keep said weapons. But to do so they’ll have to register with the state, and they’ll have to pay $50 for that privilege.

If owners of such weapons chooses not to modify or register their guns with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds they’ll have to surrender those weapons within 180 days of the law taking effect.

The legislation still has to pass the New Jersey Senate, but that is expected to happen. Murphy has said he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Rick Mellerup

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