Assembly Democratic Bill Regulating Gun Purchases, Permitting, Internet Ammunition Sales & Mental Health Screening Released by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Consolidated Assembly Democratic legislation to combat gun violence in New Jersey by improving firearms purchaser identification cards and handgun purchase permits, requiring firearms safety training, enhancing mental health screening and changing how Internet sales of ammunition are tracked was released Monday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-4182) sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) is part of the Assembly Democratic gun violence prevention effort and features provisions from eight bills approved by the Assembly in February as part of its sweeping gun violence prevention initiative. The consolidated bill includes elements of:
· A3772-3510-3645-3646-3666-3750 (Greenwald, Johnson, Wagner, Eustace, Cryan, Vainieri Huttle, Mosquera, O’Donnell, Jasey, Quijano, Mainor, McKeon) – Revises statutes concerning firearms purchaser identification cards and handgun purchase permits; makes handgun purchase permit valid for four years.
· A1683 (Johnson, Eustace) – Criminalizes purchase or possession of firearms ammunition by persons convicted of certain crimes.
· A3748 (O’Donnell, Mainor, McKeon, Jasey, Cryan) – Requires background check for private gun sales.
“We remain all too familiar with the terrible tragedy the gaps in the law can bring,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “With this effort, we’ll be making great strides toward making our state safer by updating the rules for gun purchases and permitting and sales of ammunition over the Internet. These are common sense changes that will make our state safer without restricting legal and responsible gun ownership.”
Under the revised bill:
· The paper firearms purchaser identification card would no longer be issued to New Jersey residents. Rather, the information on the card would be embedded in a firearms purchaser identifier with a picture;
· The Attorney General and the Superintendent of State Police would be charged with determining whether this information would be embedded in the driver’s license or be a separate, independent card;
· The transition from the current paper card to having this information embedded in a firearms identifier would take place over a two to five year phase-in period;
· Residents who do not have a driver’s license would have their information embedded on the identification cards that are issued by the Motor Vehicle Commission;
· All retail dealers of firearms would be required to use this system;
· A person who applies for a card or embedded firearms purchaser identifier is still required to submit to a criminal history background check to determine if the applicant is disqualified from owning a firearm under the law;
· Any person who purchases a handgun is also required obtain a card in addition to a permit to purchase a handgun. The permit information would be embedded on the identifier and would be valid for four years.
The bill requires the Attorney General to develop and implement the system that will allow retail firearms dealers to use the embedded firearms purchaser identifier to instantly determine whether that buyer is qualified to purchase a firearm.
If the superintendent determines after 36 months of testing that the system is seriously flawed, the superintendent is to report to the Governor and the Legislature recommending that implementation be postponed until the Attorney General and the superintendent determine that the system is fully operational.
After the Attorney General has implemented this system, all retail firearms dealers would be required to use it. In the case of a handgun purchase, the system would enable a retail dealer to determine whether the transaction violates the state’s prohibition on purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period.
“This is all about improved safety and making sure our laws keep pace with the times,” Greenwald said.
The bill further requires applicants for the firearms purchaser identifier to present evidence of the successful completion of a firearms safety class or course approved by the superintendent as a condition for being issued the card, license, or permit.
In developing the curriculum, the superintendent is to work in cooperation with a firearms safety panel consisting of four members, with two members appointed by the Senate President and two by the Speaker of the General Assembly.
“This will help create safer and more responsible gun ownership,” Greenwald said. “Learning how to properly handle and store weapons can go a long way in helping to avoid unnecessary tragedies.”
The bill also requires the court, upon motion of the prosecutor, to determine whether a person who has been convicted of a crime possesses a card, a permit to carry a handgun or a firearms identifier. If the court determines that the convicted person possesses such a card, license or permit, the court is to revoke the card, license or permit at sentencing, after notice and a hearing.
The bill also requires the superintendent to establish an electronic reporting program for dealers to record their Internet sales and transfers of ammunition on a real-time basis.
The superintendent is to establish an electronic data base containing all the reported information, which is to be available to all law enforcement officers on a real time basis. The reporting system would include the name, address, age, type of documentation used to establish eligibility to purchase, caliber or gauge of the ammunition sold, numerical amount of ammunition transferred in the sale and any other information deemed necessary by the superintendent.
“By tracking relatedly anonymous sales of ammunition over the Internet and enhancing record keeping, we can help prevent the next tragedy,” Greenwald said. “Gun violence has become too common in this country. These measures are meant to stop individuals whose only interest is to hurt and kill innocent people.”
The measure also requires a person to apply for a duplicate firearms identifier in the case of a change of residence. A driver’s license or a state-issued non-driver identification card, which includes a photograph of the holder, must be used to provide proof of the change of address. The person must certify that they are not subject to any of the statutory disabilities.
It also mandates that the seven day waiting period for a handgun purchase permit under current law would be applicable to sales of handguns under the system implemented by this bill.
It also requires the State Police to access the Civil Commitment Automatic Tracking System when conducting background checks for the purchase of firearms and requires a person to possess a card and a permit or a permit to carry a handgun to purchase or acquire handgun ammunition.
Under amendments made to the bill on Monday, mental health screeners, psychiatrists and doctors would be required to ask whether persons believed to be in need of involuntary commitment to mental health treatment owned a firearm or possessed one of the documents.
The court would have discretion to determine whether the firearm or documents of a person found to be in need of involuntary commitment should be searched for by law enforcement, seized, and in the case of a firearms purchaser identifier, be operationally disabled.
The bill was released by the Assembly Budget Committee.