Tightening gun control laws and making NJ smarter about smart guns

By Colleen O’Dea | NJ Spotlight

A year after New Jersey enacted a half-dozen bills that beefed up its already tough gun control laws, Assembly members on Thursday took the first step toward passing another eight restrictions. On the docket, a new bill to correct problems with the state’s current smart-gun law that would finally bring these handguns that advocates say can save lives to market.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee’s two-hour hearing brought out dozens of activists on both sides of the gun-control debate, and committee members heard many of the same arguments that are part of the national discussion: Control advocates said tighter controls save lives; gun owners complained about infringements on their Second Amendment rights. All but one of the measures cleared the committee with the four Democrats voting “yes” and the two Republicans voting “no” or abstaining. The eighth bill passed unanimously.

Ultimate passage of the measures is likely, as Gov. Phil Murphy called for many of these reforms last October, shortly after the mass shooting of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. He has made gun control a priority, directing the state police to issue monthly and quarterly reports on gun violence, naming a senior adviser on firearms issues, and tightening restrictions on the concealed carrying of handguns in New Jersey, among other actions.

Scott Bach, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, expressed the views of many gun owners when he said that the bills “would affect only law-abiding citizens and not criminals.”

Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, said New Jersey has the fifth-lowest rate of gun deaths per capita in the nation because of the strict firearms laws.

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