Eustace Legislation to Keep Guns Away from Serious Criminal Offenders Advanced by Assembly Panel

Similar Bill, Pocket-Vetoed in January, Received Unanimous Legislative Approval Last Session

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace to prohibit individuals convicted of carjacking, gang criminality, racketeering, making terroristic threats or the unlawful possession of a machine gun or handgun from purchasing or owning a firearm in New Jersey was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.

“This common sense public safety bill – which even gun rights groups can agree with – will give greater discretion to state prosecutors as they work to keep the public safe,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This legislation is simply about protecting the people of New Jersey.”

The bill (A-2443) would add carjacking, gang criminality, racketeering, terroristic threat and unlawful possession of a machine gun or handgun convictions to the list of crimes that under current law would prohibit an individual from purchasing or owning a gun in the state.

Current law disqualifies a person who has been convicted of certain serious crimes from purchasing or owning firearms. These crimes include: aggravated assault; arson; burglary; escape; extortion; homicide; kidnapping; robbery; aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; bias intimidation; endangering the welfare of a child; stalking; a crime involving domestic violence; certain crimes related to unlawful possession of weapons; and certain crimes related to controlled dangerous substances. Under this law, a person who has been convicted of any of these offenses and who possesses or owns a firearm is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Second degree crimes are punishable by a fine of up to $150,000, a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years or both.

Under the bill, an individual who purchases or owns a firearm, who has been convicted of any of the crimes specified in the bill, would also be guilty of a crime of the second degree.

“Guns are fatal when in the wrong hands,” said Eustace. “This bill can help keep guns away from individuals who have shown a clear disregard for their fellow man and the law.”

The bill was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.