Cunningham/Ruiz ‘One Gun A Month Bill’ Gets Final Legislative Approval

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 handgun per person, within a 30-day period was approved today by the full Senate by a vote of 21 to 15.

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.

“Gang violence has become a way of life in communities around the State,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “Though we have gun laws on the books, more must be done to prevent straw purchases. It is my hope that other states will follow our lead and craft similar legislation to help protect residents from gun violence.”

“This legislation is about reducing gun violence and saving lives,” said Senator Ruiz, D-Essex and Union. “The effects of illegal gun violence and the wounds it causes are far-reaching in that they not only touch victims, but also families and communities as a whole. The passage of this bill would be a significant step in the right direction toward reducing the number of illegal, unlicensed guns on the streets and increasing safety for the people of this State.”

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.

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.

Federal, state and local law enforcement officers and licensed gun dealers and retailers would not be subject to the 30-day limitation.

The Governor will also be signing an executive order, authorizing the creation of a nine-member task force to address the impact of the legislation on gun collectors, recreational gun users and competitive sportsmen. The task force will be responsible for making recommendations for any additional legislation. The task force will be required to meet within 30 days of the signing of the executive order, and to issue its initial report within 90 days. Secondly, the task force will be responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of the bill, and issuing a report on its progress within 18 months of the initial report.

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.

This measure now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.

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