Cunningham/Ruiz Bill Would Work To Prevent ‘Straw Purchases’

Senator Sandra Cunningham listens to testimony during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing.

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Teresa Ruiz, which would prohibit the sale and purchase of more than one hand-gun per person within a 30-day period was approved today by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee by a vote of 3 to 2.

According to the sponsors, the bill is intended to prevent “straw purchasing,” or purchasing a firearm for someone who is not legally allowed to buy one.

The Senators’ bill, S-1774, would ban the sale or purchase of more than one handgun per person within a 30-day period. The bill would focus on straw purchasers and bulk sellers, who obtain multiple gun permits, buy the guns and then sell them on the black market to unlicensed buyers.

“With handgun violence seemingly on the rise all over the nation, it is imperative that we fight to control and reduce the number of guns on the streets,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “This legislation is not an attempt to prohibit law enforcement officers or licensed gun collectors from exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms. Our goal is to impose severe regulations and significant barriers on criminals and straw gun purchasers, and send a clear message that we will fight to protect the safety of all of New Jersey’s neighborhoods.”

“While upstanding, licensed gun owners and law enforcement officers have every right to have firearms, convicted criminals and minors do not,” said Senator Ruiz, D-Essex and Union. “This legislation is a step in the right direction toward reclaiming our neighborhoods, and making them safe for children, the elderly, and all who call New Jersey their home.”

Under current law, no one may purchase, sell or transfer a firearm to another person unless he or she has the necessary permit or authorization. Each gun permit enables a buyer to purchase one gun, and subsequent permits are needed for additional guns. Authorized gun sellers are required to do FBI background checks on prospective purchasers before transferring a firearm.

Current law also specifies who is disqualified from securing a gun permit. This group includes convicted criminals, minors, or anyone who is drug or alcohol dependant or mentally ill.

Under the bill, a buyer or seller who violates the provisions of this bill would be guilty of a fourth degree crime, which carries penalties of 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

The measure now heads to the full Senate for approval.

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