TRENTON, N.J. — A package of bills that would strengthen New Jersey’s already-strict gun laws is now headed for a vote in the state assembly after a judiciary committee approved a half-dozen measures Wednesday.
They would limit magazine size, ban armor piercing bullets, make it harder to carry a handgun, enhance background checks and enable mental health professionals or household members to make a case for weapons seizure or a ban on ownership if a person is proven to be at high risk for harming themselves or others.
“We’ve seen too many ‘what ifs’ when it comes to these mass shootings, often centered around the question of why didn’t somebody do something to take guns away from someone who is mentally unstable,” said Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “This bill makes it easier to accomplish that goal and, ultimately, protect our communities and our children."
The judiciary committee hosted a marathon hearing in which dozens testified for and against the bills, including parents, gun owners, firing range instructors, psychologists and even a gun violence victim.
"If he had pulled that trigger. I wouldn’t be here, nor would my three children,” said a woman who survived being held at gunpoint.
Gun owners in the the room balked at more regulations when New Jersey is already known for it’s tough gun laws.
"Terrorists have been driving cars into people. Are we going to take away the cars?” said a father of seven.
Here is a summary of the bills that were passed by the committee today:
• A-1181 (Jones/Mosquera/Sumter/Downey/Barclay) – Requires firearms seizure when certain health care professional determines patient poses threat of harm to self or others.
• A-1217 (McKeon) – Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018. Authorizes gun violence restraining orders and firearm seizure warrants. A judge shall consider any threats or acts of violence by the person toward themselves or others; a recent violation of a restraining order; and/or conviction for a weapons offense.
• A-2761 (Greenwald) - Reduces maximum capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; exempts firearms with .22 caliber tubular magazines from 10 round limitation.
• A-2757 (Greenwald/Holley) - Requires background check for private gun sales.
• A-2758 (Greenwald) - Codifies regulations defining justifiable need to carry handgun.
• A-2759 (Greenwald/Murphy) - Prohibits possession of ammunition capable of penetrating body armor.
Governor Phil Murphy has said he is eager to sign these bills into law.
But first they’ll need to pass the full state assembly and senate.