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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 was approved today by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. 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 no purpose other than to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “We cannot prevent gun violence, but we can make sensible changes to our laws to reduce the bloodshed in active shooter situations. Reducing the legal capacity of magazines will help decrease the number of victims if a shooter opens fire on innocent people. Importantly, if a gunman has to reload it will offer a critical window of time to take down a shooter or to allow people to escape. It will save lives, and that is a goal we all should be willing to fight for.”

“These magazines have been used to carry out assaults throughout the country. They have no place in the hands of civilians,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “We owe it to our residents to help protect against tragedies like the one that took so many lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 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. This bill will better protect our children and our communities, 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.

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 Hook Elementary 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 committee approved the bill by a vote of 3-2. It next heads to the full Senate for a vote.