TRENTON – Two bills sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner which build upon her previous efforts aimed at combating street gangs in New Jersey by cracking down on the number of “straw” purchases of handguns and ammunition were given final legislative approval today.
“Our fight against street games is like a game of cat and mouse – and we must always be looking to be a big lion and not a meek little field mouse,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “Our focus must now turn to how these gangs get their hands on weapons and ammunition and limiting the number of straw purchases made to continue the violence.”
The first bill, S-2470, passed both houses today and would prevent the sale of handgun ammunition in New Jersey to anyone who doesn’t hold one of the following: a valid firearms purchaser identification card; a certified copy of a permit to purchase a handgun; a valid permit to carry a handgun; a valid New Jersey hunting license; or valid documentation identifying the purchaser as a federal, state or local law enforcement officer authorized to possess a firearm. The bill also would allow an individual residing in another state who con legally own a handgun to purchase ammo at a firing range in New Jersey to be solely used at that firing range.
“There’s simply no reason that someone who can’t legally own a firearm be allowed to purchase ammunition. They have no way to legally use those bullets, and this bill eliminates one more loophole that allows criminal street gangs to get their hands on ammunition,” explained Senator Turner.
The Senator’s second bill, S-2934, passed the Assembly and would require the owner of a firearm that has been lost or stolen to immediately report that loss to their local police department, or the State Police if there is no local police department. The bill also specifies that the legal owner of a lost or stolen firearm would not be civilly liable for any damages resulting from a crime in which the lost or stolen firearm was used if the legal owner complied with the bill’s reporting requirement.
“Straw purchases – when people who can legally purchase guns buy them for individuals who are prohibited from owning a firearm – hurt our communities and are a growing problem for law enforcement as they work to decrease the number of illegal guns on the streets,” explained Senator Turner. “Feigning ignorance can no longer be an excuse for the people who make these purchases. We need to hold them just as accountable as those criminals who use these weapons.”
Senator Turner noted that these two bills build upon several other anti-gang measures she has sponsored that have been signed into law including her full-cash bail law for violent crimes, (S-643), her mandatory prison term law for possession of community guns, (S-2009), and her source-of-bail money law, (S-2012), as effective anti-gang statutes.
S-2934 the Assembly passed by a vote of 66-11 while S-2470 passed by a vote of 33-6 in the Senate and 55-20 in the Assembly. Both bills now head for the Governor’s desk for his signature.