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Greenstein Bill to Expand Background Checks for Gun Sales Approved by Senate


TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Linda R. Greenstein that would require all dealers or sellers to complete a background check before any handgun, rifle, shotgun or antique cannon can be sold, given, transferred, assigned or disposed of by an individual was approved by the Senate today.

“This is common-sense legislation that everyone, including all responsible gun owners, should support,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Requiring a dealer to do a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) will make it harder in our state for firearms to get into the wrong hands.”

In addition to requiring all dealers to use NICS, the dealer must submit proof of the background check to the Superintendent of the State Police. The dealer would be required to keep on-site a record of all completed transactions so law enforcement officials can see them on request.

The bill, S-2374, also would define “immediate family” member, for purpose of transactions who are exempt from the background check requirement, as a spouse, domestic partner, partner in a civil union, parent, stepparent, grandparent, sibling, stepsibling, child, stepchild and grandchild.

NICS was mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and has been operable since 1998. The system is used by Federal Firearms Licensees to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to purchase firearms. Ninety-two percent of NICS checks receive an instant verdict, but if NICS cannot complete a background check and reach a verdict within three days, the firearm is allowed to be sold.

New Jersey has created its own NICS programs. Between 2010 and 2015, roughly 490,000 firearm background checks were completed using the NICS in New Jersey.

Nine states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington – plus the District of Columbia, require universal background checks at the point of sale for all sales and transfers of all classes of firearms, whether they are purchases from a licensed dealer or an unlicensed seller, as proposed under this bill.

The bill was approved by a vote of 31-3 and now advances to the governor for further consideration.