(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Joseph Cryan, Tim Eustace, Gabriela Mosquera, Jason O’Donnell, Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano, Charles Mainor and John F. Mckeon to limit how ammunition is sold in New Jersey and require better record keeping of ammunition sales in order to improve accountability was approved Thursday by the Assembly.
“Right now it is too easy for individuals set on harming others to purchase round after round of ammunition without even leaving their homes,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “We are too familiar with the terrible tragedy this gap in the law can bring – as we saw in Aurora, Colorado. This is not about targeting responsible, law-abiding gun owners, but rather those individuals who stockpile bullets with deadly intentions.”
The bill (A3645-3646-3666-3750) would make mail order, Internet, telephone, and any other anonymous method of ammunition sale or transfer illegal in New Jersey. The bill requires that all ammunition sales and transfers be made as face-to-face transactions between the seller or transferor and the receiver of the ammunition. Face-to-face transactions are defined as sales or transfers in which the purchaser, transferee, or assignee is in the physical presence of the seller, transferor, or assigner.
The bill exempts federal and state licensees and dealers, law enforcement agencies and officials and collectors when purchasing, acquiring or transferring ammunition which is recognized as being historical in nature or historical significance.
“The anonymity provided by the Internet or the telephone when it comes to the sale of ammunition is frightening,” said Eustace (D-Bergen). “Having to be physically present when buying large amounts of ammunition will hopefully help deter individuals intent on harming innocent people.”
“It is disturbing that a troubled individual today can get a hold of bulk ammunition with a simple phone call or the click of a mouse,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill takes away the anonymity that makes it easier for individuals to buy large amounts of ammo without fear.”
The bill – part of the Assembly Democratic gun violence prevention package – also further regulates who is allowed to sell or transfer ammunition in New Jersey, and requires that information relating to all such retail sales and transfers be recorded and be readily available to law enforcement.
Under the bill, only persons licensed as retail dealers under state law, their employees and persons licensed under federal law may engage in the retail business of selling ammunition in New Jersey.
The bill would establish a similar regulatory program governing the sale of rifle and shotgun ammunition. Under current law, the sale of handgun ammunition is regulated to the extent that a purchaser must establish his or her eligibility by exhibiting a firearms purchaser identification card, a permit to purchase a handgun, or a permit to carry a handgun and that he or she is 21 years of age or older. Under the bill, in addition to the documentation a purchaser may use to establish his or her eligibility to acquire handgun ammunition, the bill would allow prospective rifle and shotgun ammunition purchasers to exhibit a valid New Jersey hunting license. However, sales and transfers of rifle and shotgun ammunition may not be made to individuals who are under 18 years of age.
The bill also directs the Superintendent of State Police to establish an electronic reporting program for dealers to record their sales and transfers of ammunition on a real time basis. Until the program is operational, dealers are to keep a record of their ammunition sales, including the name, address, age, type of documentation exhibited to establish their eligibility to purchase ammunition, the caliber or gauge of the ammunition sold, the numerical amount of ammunition transferred in the sale and any other information deemed necessary by the superintendent. Dealers must use the program for their reporting once it is up and running. The superintendent must establish an electronic data base containing all of the dealer reported information, which must be made available to all law enforcement officers on a real time basis.
“The Newtown shooter had hundreds of rounds of ammunition, enough to kill almost every student in that school if given enough time,” said Cryan (D-Union). “By limiting anonymous methods of buying ammunition and enhancing record keeping, we can help prevent the next tragedy.”
“Gun violence has become too common in this country. While I empathize with law-abiding gun owners who may feel targeted, these measures are meant to stop individuals whose only interest in buying large amounts of ammunition is to hurt and kill innocent people,” said O’Donnell (D-Hudson).
“Gun violence is not limited to mass shootings. For many inner city residents, gun violence is a daily occurrence,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “These efforts may not end gun violence, but they will help harness a problem that has gotten way out of control and has already claimed too many lives.”
“The ease with which people can buy large amounts of ammunition, behind closed doors no less, is alarming,” said Quijano (D-Union). “If we’re going to get serious about gun violence prevention, we have to make it tougher for individuals with criminal inclinations to buy ammunition.”
“Gun violence is crippling entire communities in New Jersey,” said Mainor (D-Hudson), who chairs the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. “Outlawing anonymous methods of buying ammunition that could lead to illegal transactions and strengthening record keeping of these sales will help keep people safe and help law enforcement as they investigate gun related crimes.”
“The nightly news provides a sobering reminder of just how prevalent gun violence has become in our country,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “We have a long road ahead, but limiting access to ammunition is one way to help deter violent or troubled individuals who are a threat to public safety.”
The bill was approved 46-29 by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.