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Assembly Panel Advances Downey, Houghtaling, McKeon & Greenwald Bill to Require Microstamping and Establish Handgun Database

In an effort to equip law enforcement with the tools they need to address gun violence, Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, John McKeon and Louis Greenwald sponsor a measure to require newly manufactured semi-automatic handguns to be micro-stamped and to establish a handgun database. The Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced the bill on Monday.

“Every year, hundreds of New Jerseyans lose their lives to gun violence,” said Assemblywoman Downey (D-Monmouth). “While we have come a long way in promoting gun safety, our work is clearly not over. We have to take action to end the cycle of gun violence and prevent more lives from being lost. By utilizing microstamping technology, we can allow our police to become more efficient in identifying the firearms used in crimes and keeping the people of New Jersey safe.”

Under the bill (A-5787), all newly manufactured semi-automatic handguns sold by licensed retail firearm dealers in New Jersey would have to be micro-stamped. Microstamping technology uses lasers to engrave a code that identifies a gun’s make, model and unique serial number onto the internal working parts of a semi-automatic handgun. When the gun is fired, that code is imprinted onto the cartridge which law enforcement can use to assist with an investigation.

“Microstamping technology has the potential to drastically transform law enforcement’s ability to identify shooters and hold them accountable for their actions,” said Assemblyman Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “Bringing the people who commit violent gun crimes to justice can save lives, and by ensuring handguns sold in New Jersey are micro-stamped we can make it easier for police to solve these crimes and apprehend perpetrators.”

The bill also requires licensed retail firearm dealers to report handgun sales to the State. The Superintendent of State Police would establish and maintain a database to be used by New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies.

“Giving law enforcement officers all of the tools necessary to address gun violence is critical to ensuring the safety of our communities,” said Assemblyman McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “The handgun database created by this bill would be invaluable in law enforcement officers’ investigations of gun-related crimes. With this resource available to our police, more gun-related violent crimes could be solved, giving victims the justice they deserve.”

The bill stipulates that selling or transferring a handgun that is not micro-stamped and buying, receiving, disposing of, or concealing a semi-automatic handgun with the knowledge that the microstamping mechanism has been defaced or removed would be fourth-degree crimes. Defacing or removing the microstamping mechanism of a semi-automatic handgun would be a third-degree crime.

“To address the ongoing gun violence crisis facing our nation, we have to continue updating our laws with sensible measures to keep our communities safe,” said Assemblyman Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “Requiring all semi-automatic handguns sold in New Jersey to be micro-stamped and establishing a handgun database for law enforcement are responsible steps that we can and must take to promote gun safety throughout the State. This common sense measure can help to save lives.”

The bill now heads to the Speaker for further consideration.