TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg issued the following statement on the governor’s pocket veto of legislation (S-3249) she sponsored designed to spur the development and availability of childproof handguns in New Jersey and across the nation:
“The governor’s veto is wrong. New Jersey has been a leader in the effort to advance smart gun technology and we had the opportunity with this bill to update our laws to help get these safer firearms to the market.
“There is no doubt that they are needed given the number of accidental shootings that continue to take place. Last year, there were reportedly more than 265 unintentional shootings by kids that left 83 people dead. Already in 2016, there have been at least five accidental shootings by children, including a 3-year-old who was found dead by his father after getting a hold of his firearm while inside their family’s convenience store. This is about stopping these kinds of tragedies.
“This bill would have helped to facilitate the development of smart guns and given consumers the option of purchasing a safer handgun once they are available and determined by the attorney general to be reliable. The governor instead chose to leave our current mandate on the books. I am disappointed but not discouraged, because I believe we are making progress. The President’s endorsement of this technology earlier this month was an important step forward, and we are going to continue our work. Firearms manufacturers stand out among the only companies that have refused to modernize and to incorporate new technology into their products. There are real consequences to this inaction.
“Fortunately, I believe modernization is inevitable. Smart guns are the future of firearms in this country and I am confident they will reach the market and become the gun of choice for the majority of consumers in the coming years.”
Senator Weinberg was the sponsor of the 2002 Childproof Handgun Law that required all handguns sold in the state to be “personalized handguns” within three years of the technology becoming available for retail purposes anywhere in the country, and determined by the state Attorney General as meeting established reliability standards. The law was intended to encourage the development of personalized handgun technology, also known as “smart guns.” The law saw some success in encouraging development; however, opponents of the law blocked the retail sale of smart guns in order to keep the mandate from taking effect. The Senator’s new bill (S3249) was the result of nearly a year of discussions she had with the gun safety community. The bill would have amended the current mandate to require each firearms wholesaler or retailer in New Jersey to offer for sale a personalized handgun within three years of its availability for sale in New Jersey or elsewhere in the country.