(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Shavonda Sumter, Joann Downey, Benjie Wimberly, Joe Danielsen, Angelica Jimenez and Andrew Zwicker 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 Monday by an Assembly committee.
“Guns are fatal when in the wrong hands,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill can help keep guns away from individuals who have shown a clear disregard for their fellow man and the law.”
“These are violent offenses perpetuated by dangerous individuals,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “A person who has committed any of the crimes specified in this bill has forfeited his or her right to own a gun.”
“It’s simple common sense that people whose past behavior indicates that they pose a danger to others should not have access to a firearm,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “This legislation is an effort to protect law-abiding men and women from those who prove themselves to be irresponsible citizens.”
“Guns can escalate an already bad situation,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Individuals who have been convicted of such violent crimes should not be trusted to be responsible gun owners.”
“Gun ownership requires a sense of responsibility that these individuals clearly lack,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “For the sake of public safety, it is best that they be prohibited from owning a gun.”
“Giving violent individuals access to guns is asking for trouble,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “These are serious offenses. Anyone capable of committing any of these crimes should not be allowed to own a gun.”
“Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Those who fail to fulfill their responsibility to act with respect for society forgo the right to have a gun, plain and simple.”
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.
The bill was advanced by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.