Bipartisan legislation that requires a person guilty of stealing a firearm to serve a mandatory prison term was introduced on Thursday by Assembly Democrat Reed Gusciora and Assembly Republicans Jon Bramnick and Jack Ciattarelli.
Under current law, the theft of a firearm is a third degree crime which is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, a term of imprisonment of three to five years, or both. New Jersey law provides a presumption of non-imprisonment for most first-time offenders of third and fourth degree crimes. The bill, A-2916, provides that the presumption of non-imprisonment for certain third and fourth degree crimes does not apply to a person convicted of stealing of a firearm.
“The goal of this bill is to get illegal guns off our streets, which for me is especially important in Trenton,” said Gusciora, D- Mercer and Hunterdon. “A significant amount of illegal guns on the street today are stolen, and this solution is something Democrats and Republicans can both agree upon. The criminals terrorizing neighborhoods with stolen guns need to know that doing so comes with significant consequences.”
“Stealing a gun is an offense which often leads to violent crimes, including the loss of life,” said Bramnick, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, who is the Assembly Republican Leader. “This act is more serious than stealing property. This bill sends a message to criminals that they will face severe consequences for stealing a firearm. This is a necessary step to help curb the incidence of violent crime.”
“The data is clear. When someone steals a firearm it is used to commit other crimes, even murder,” said Ciattarelli, R- Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex, who is an Assistant Republican Whip. “That’s why the law should be crystal clear and the legal ramifications should reflect the severity of the crime. Simply put, if you steel a firearm, you will go to prison.”