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Reduces Legal Capacity of Magazines to 10 Rounds

 TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate President Pro Tempore Nia H. Gill to reduce the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds received approval today by the state Senate. Both legislators met with the families of victims of the Sandy HookElementary School shooting last year and pledged to push for the bill’s passage.

“Large capacity magazines have been the weapon of choice for gunmen from Tucson to Aurora to Newtown. They were used to claim as many lives as possible as quickly as possible. We cannot prevent gun violence from occurring, but we can make common-sense changes to our laws to reduce the number of victims in active shooter situations,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “I have committed to the residents of this state and to families from Sandy Hook that I would work to see this bill passed to better protect children in our own state from gun violence – to better protect all of our residents. That is a promise that I intend to keep. Reducing the legal capacity of magazines is vital to improving public safety and to saving lives. I look forward to seeing the legislation to its completion.”

“We have seen the suffering first-hand of the parents who lost their children at Sandy HookElementary School. We owe it to our residents to help protect against those kinds of tragedies in our state,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “If we can save lives in New Jersey by getting large capacity magazines out of the hands of an assailant, then it is our obligation to do so. Banning them will go a long way to make our communities safer, and ensure we continue to have some of the toughest gun-control laws in the country.”

Under current law, magazines capable of holding a maximum of 15 rounds of ammunition are legal in New Jersey.  This bill (S-993) would reduce the lawful maximum capacity of ammunition magazines in New Jersey to 10 rounds. It would also designate a semiautomatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 10 rounds as a prohibited firearm. Under current law, active duty police officers are exempt from the large capacity ammunition ban. The bill would exempt from the ban police officers when they are off-duty, permitting them to carry large capacity magazines capable of holding up to 15 rounds. In addition, the legislation would permit retired police officers authorized to possess and carry a handgun in the state to carry magazines capable of holding up to 15 rounds, as is currently allowed. Lastly, the bill allows for a 180-day grace period to transfer, render inoperable, or voluntarily surrender a semi-automatic rifle or magazine that will be unlawful under the bill.

The legislation is a response to horrific incidents across the country in which the assailants utilized high-capacity ammunition magazines to carry out mass shootings. High-capacity magazines were used in the 2012 tragedy at Sandy HookElementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 26 people were killed, 20 who were children ages 6- and 7-years-old. High-capacity magazines were used in an Arizona shooting that resulted in the deaths of six people and injuries to 13 others, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. They were also used in a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in which twelve people were killed and 59 wounded. The Legislature took action on a far-reaching, comprehensive package of gun-control legislation last year aimed at reducing gun violence and making our communities safer. Legislative leaders of both houses vowed to push forward with this measure and, in February, stood with families of Sandy Hook victims in Trenton to express their intention to push for the bill’s passage.

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 22-17. It now heads to the Assembly to concur with Senate amendments, before heading to the governor’s desk.