Big N.J. gun control bills set for votes on Monday, and Phil Murphy vows to sign them

State lawmakers are set to vote Monday on a package of bills to make New Jersey's gun laws even tougher -- and Gov. Phil Murphy has vowed to sign them all if they reach his desk.

The state Assembly will consider six measures at the Statehouse in Trenton, including one to reduce magazine capacity, another to ban armor-piercing bullets, another to make it tougher to obtain a permit to carry a handgun, and two that are designed to keep firearms out of the hands of people with mental health issues. 

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association and local gun-rights activists will hold a morning rally at the nearby War Memorial in Trenton to protest the bills before the voting session.

It all will happen two days after hundreds of thousands of people across the globe took part in the March for Our Lives -- rallies for more gun control organized by survivors of last month's school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Murphy, a Democrat campaigned last year for tighter gun laws, spoke at Saturday's march in Newark. He said in a statement later in the day that the students' "activism inspires me and reaffirms my commitment to making New Jersey a national leader in passing common-sense gun safety laws."

The governor added that he is "ready as every" to work with the state Legislature and that he is "committed" to these bills passing "so I can sign them into law."

"Today we marched in memory of Parkland," Murphy said. "But, we will act in the name of every family and every community in our state that has been touched by gun violence, and the many more who wish to remain safe. The thousands of young people who came together today -- and the many adults who joined them -- have changed the conversation. We must listen to them and act to ensure a better, safer future for every New Jerseyan."

New Jersey's gun laws are already among the toughest in the country. And many of these bills have been around for years, with some having been blocked by Murphy's Republican predecessor, Gov. Chris Christie.

But they've gained added attention since Murphy succeeded Christie in January and amid the intensified debate over gun control after the Parkland shooting and other recent massacres.

Even if the Assembly passed all of these bills, they would still need to clear the state Senate before Murphy could sign them. But that appears likely. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, echoed Murphy's sentiments.

"This is a time that is long past due, but I think this is the right time," Greenwald, a sponsor of a few of the measures, told NJ Advance Media. "The times have changed." 

"We continue to walk the line of protecting the Second Amendment, cherishing the Second Amendment, but putting reasonable restrictions like we do with freedom of speech," he added.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-Mercer -- another sponsor -- said lawmakers are trying to carefully define "people who are a threat" and make sure they cannot obtain guns.

"These are important things for us to do to protect the citizens of New Jersey," Zwicker added.

But earlier Monday, gun-rights activists will gather in Trenton for the rally co-organized by the NRA and the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. The groups say the bills are "unconstitutional" are are "trying to be forced through" the Legislature.

Then, the New Jersey Second Amendment Society will hold a news conference around the corner at the state Republican Party headquarters with lawmakers opposed to the measures. 

"The goal is to show our solidarity and unity against legislators who do not want to differentiate between lawful activity and criminal activity," said Alexander Roubian, the Second Amendment Society's president.

"They're specifically targeting law-abiding citizens," Roubian added. "They're making it harder for women to be able to protect themselves in self-defense situations, while (the lawmakers) simultaneously surround themselves with armed guards, which is the ultimate form of hypocrisy."

The bills on the docket Monday include:

A1217, which would create restraining orders in the state allowing family members and others to ask a judge to have a person's guns seized and ban then from buying weapons for up to a year.

A1181, which would mandate law enforcement in the state to seize a person's guns if a mental health professional determines they pose a threat to themselves or others. 

A2758, which would strictly define that state residents need to show a "justifiable need" to obtain a permit to carry a handgun -- meaning they must show they face a specific threat to their own safety. 

A2757, which would all private gun sales in the state to go through a licensed dealer who can perform an additional background check at the point of sale.

A2759, which would create an outright ban in the state on possessing armor-piercing bullets.

A2761, which would ban magazines in the state that hold more than 10 rounds, with some exceptions.

Six of these measures were debated at a heated legislative hearing in Trenton last month.


Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment