Senate Committee Approves Seven Bills In Landmark Gun Safety Plan

Returning members of the State Senate are sworn in

Budget Panel Votes On Major Portions of Comprehensive Package That Creates Model System for Instant Background Checks, Cracks Down on Gun Trafficking, Keeps Guns From Criminals & Mentally Ill, Requires Safety Training, Aids School Security and Helps Parents Limit Media Violence, Among Other Steps

TRENTON – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced seven bills from the Senate Democrats comprehensive gun safety plan, including six measures already approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee and a measure that would prohibit state investments in companies that manufacture assault rifles for civilian use.

Among the legislation that won passage today are bills that would create an innovative system for complete, instant background checks for all gun sales, including private transactions that would crack down on illegal gun sales, ban high-powered .50 caliber weapons and address mental health problems that contribute to gun violence.

There are a total of 15 bills in the far-reaching plan that seeks to prevent gun violence by keeping weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them, to stem the flow of illegal firearms, to more forcefully punish gun traffickers and to limit access to highly-dangerous weapons. The bills also adopt mechanisms to trace ammunition sales and weapons used in crimes and provide parents with practical information to limit their children’s exposure to media violence.

“With this gun safety package, we are advancing a comprehensive plan that will utilize innovative technologies to perform thorough, instant background checks for all gun sales, including private transactions and will take important steps in keeping weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, the lead sponsor of the plan. “It will combine the permit process for handguns and hunting rifles require a photo ID for all purchases, require a permit for all ammunition sales and mandate safety training. This plan can serve as a national model for gun safety and violence prevention.”

Senate President Sweeney’s centerpiece bill, S-2723, was approved 7 – 6.

The committee also voted for legislation, S-2719, that will crack down on illegal gun sales and transfers with new penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchases. Sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross, the chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee, the bill will allow for the confiscation of motor vehicles used to smuggle guns, impose tougher penalties for gun dealers who knowingly allow straw purchases, deny early release from prison for convicted traffickers and require that they serve at least 85 percent of their terms.

Another measure sponsored by Senator Norcross that was voted out of committee, S-2468, would allow for motor vehicles used in the commission of a crime by a motorist with an illegal weapon to be impounded. Both Norcross bills gained unanimous approval, 13 – 0.

“One of the most important goals is to keep guns from those who should not have them,” said Senator Norcross. “Convicted criminals, those with mental health problems that pose a risk of violence and anyone who doesn’t have an up-to-date gun permit are among those who should be denied. These actions we are taking to strengthen our laws will help reduce street violence by reducing the number of illegal and dangerous guns.”

Also passed today was legislation, S-2178, sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak and Senator Barbara Buono, that will prohibit the future sale and possession of the highly-destructive .50 caliber rifles capable of firing 12,000 “foot-pounds” or more of power. The measure passed 7 – 6.

And, authored by Senator Buono and Senate President Pro Tempore Nia H. Gill is a bill, S-2492, that would update the FBI’s Criminal Background Check System with mental health data on those not allowed to own or possess firearms. The bill was approved 7 – 4.

Also approved was legislation, S-2715, sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz to help parents limit their children’s exposure to violence in the media. The bill would have the Department of Education develop an informative pamphlet for schools to distribute to the parents of all their students. The bill was approved 13 – 0.

Senator Gill, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Codey are sponsors of legislation S-2471, that would prohibit the State of New Jersey from investing in any company that manufactures assault rifles for civilian use. The bill passed 7 – 6.

All the gun safety bills voted out of committee today now go to the full Senate for action.

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