Package Includes Proposals to Require Firearms Safety Training, Mandate Safe Storage of Firearms, Raise the Minimum Age to Purchase Long Guns to 21, and Establish Electronic Ammunition Sales Recordkeeping
TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday unveiled a sweeping series of reforms aimed at reducing the epidemic of gun violence. The proposals, when paired with previous steps that he and members of the Legislature have taken to reduce gun violence, are in step with his aim to solidify New Jersey’s standing as a national leader in gun safety.
“Half of New Jersey’s gun homicides occur in only five cities, and the number of gun crimes in these cities has skyrocketed over the last year,” Murphy said. “We cannot sit back when we know there is more to do to address the danger of gun violence in our communities. By taking the steps we are announcing today, we will further commit to making every block and every street in our state safer.”
“Everyday gun violence is a constant burden and threat to the public health and well-being of our communities. To solve this problem, we need actions that are informed by research and data,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver. “The Gun Safety Package that Governor Murphy has set forth today lays the groundwork for interventions and programs that are designed to save lives and are backed by the necessary funding to help them succeed.”
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the proposed measures would give law enforcement new tools and resources to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, combat illegal firearms trafficking, and expand the state's violence intervention program.
New Jersey previously established a “red flag” law for gun violence protective orders; criminalized firearms trafficking; strengthened background checks; reduced the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines; banned “ghost guns;” and established the Rutgers Gun Violence Research Center to identify evidenced-based solutions to the gun violence crisis. The additional items introduced include:
Funding Gun Violence Prevention Measures
- Increasing Violence Intervention Funding: Investing in evidence-based, community-driven strategies like group violence intervention, relationship-based street outreach, and hospital-based violence intervention programs. Through the FY2022 budget process, Gov. Murphy proposes an additional $10 million in funding for these initiatives.
- Dedicating $2 million to Rutgers GVRC: Murphy’s FY2022 Budget proposal will dedicate funding to help the Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers research gun violence as the public health epidemic that it is.
Supporting Gun Violence Prevention Legislation
- Requiring Firearm Safety Training: S-2169/A-5030 (Weinberg/Reynolds-Jackson) would modernize firearm ID cards and require completion of a firearm safety course in order to receive a permit to purchase a gun or receive a firearm ID card. Connecticut, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Maryland all have laws requiring individuals to undergo safety training.
- Mandating Safe Storage of Firearms.
- Raising Minimum Age to Purchase Long Guns to 21: Under current law, a person 18 years of age and older may obtain a firearms purchaser identification card and a handgun purchaser is required to be at least 21 years old. The bill (A-1141/S-3605, Freiman/Cryan) increases from 18 to 21 the age at which a person is eligible to receive a firearms purchaser identification card used to purchase shotguns and rifles but would still allow for those at least 18 to possess a long gun for purposes of hunting; military drills; competition; target practice; training; or under the supervision of a parent or guardian.
- Promoting Microstamping Technology: Microstamping technology provides law enforcement with the tools to quickly link firearm cartridge casings found at the scene of a crime to a specific firearm, without having to recover the firearm itself. (The technology essentially creates a “license plate” on cartridge casings to identify the gun that was used to shoot the ammunition.)
- Establishing Electronic Ammunition Sales Recordkeeping: A State Commission of Investigation (SCI) study found that sales records were often hand-written into log books — a problem for law enforcement, which should be able to consult an electronic database when it investigates questionable ammunition purchases. A-1292/S-1481 (Greenwald/Weinberg) would require manufacturers or dealers of handgun ammunition to keep a detailed electronic record of ammunition sales, and report ammunition sales to the State Police.
- Banning .50 Caliber Firearms: Military-style .50 caliber rifles are banned or restricted in several other states. S-103/A-1280 (Gill/Greenwald) would revise the definition of "destructive device" in New Jersey to include weapons of .50 caliber or greater.
- Closing Loophole for Importing Out-of-State Firearms: Individuals who move to New Jersey from another state are allowed to bring their legally acquired guns with them without registering the guns. A-3686/S-372 (Vainieri Huttle/Cryan) would close this loophole by requiring firearm owners who move to New Jersey to obtain a firearm purchaser identification card (FPIC) and register their firearms within 30 days.
- Holding the Gun Industry Accountable: Nearly 80% of guns used in crimes are originally purchased outside of the state. A bill recently introduced in the New York Senate would hold gun manufacturers liable for the public harm they cause by amending the state’s public nuisance laws to prohibit the gun industry from endangering the safety or health of the public through its sale, manufacturing, importing or marketing of guns. Gov. Murphy proposes similar legislation in New Jersey.
- Regulating School Shooting Drills: New Jersey schools currently are required to conduct active shooter exercises but guidelines are vague on how drills should be conducted. Gov. Murphy proposes authorizing the Department of Education to establish trauma-informed and age-appropriate standards for lockdown drills including encouraging preparation over simulation; barring use of simulated gunshots; advanced notice to parents about planned drills; training; and prohibiting rewarding children for fighting off potential gunmen during a drill.
- Reconvening Historic “States for Gun Safety” Summit: New Jersey was poised to host a multi-state summit in Newark last year on gun-safety issues, but the event was canceled due to COVID-19. The multi-state effort has involved a sharing of data among states, including the exchange of information about illegal trafficking and about those disqualified from owning firearms.
- Announcing Nominations to the Personalized Handgun Authorization Commission: Gov. Murphy says that he will soon file nominations to the so-called “Smart Gun Commission.” The commission aims to assemble industry experts, business representatives, and advocates to discuss gun violence in New Jersey.