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In Wake of Recent Tragedies, Assembly Budget, Homeland Security Chairs Move to Reinstate Provision of 1994 Assault Weapons Ban

Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) today announced they have introduced legislation (A-3807), which would protect New Jerseyans and reduce violent gun crimes by imposing tighter limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines for firearms.

“The prevalence of high-capacity magazines for guns makes it appallingly simple for criminals, terrorists, or unstable individuals to kill many innocent people quickly,” said Greenwald. “By re-instituting a reasonable limit on gun magazine capacity that has already been proven successful, we will save innocent lives.”

Under the bill, magazines used in firearms would be limited to a maximum capacity of 10 rounds. This bill would enact a state-level prohibition designed to mirror a provision of the successful 1994 assault weapons ban championed by then-President Clinton, which cracked down on high-capacity magazines by limiting magazines to 10 rounds.

“It is abundantly clear that the use of high-capacity magazines has, more often than not, been used with malicious intent,” said Quijano. “By eliminating the availability of high-capacity magazines in New Jersey, the hope is to limit the number of injuries or casualties in the event of an armed assault. This type of measure has been successful in the past, and if we can re-implement it, all New Jerseyans will be that much safer.”

“With the terrible shootings in Arizona recently, as well as horrific tragedies at Virginia Tech and off-campus shootings here in New Jersey, we must rein in high-capacity magazines,” said Greenwald. “If we can save even one innocent life through common-sense legislation like this, it will be worth it.”

The dangerous role of high-capacity magazines was recently illustrated by 22-year old Jared Lee Loughner’s devastating attack on a crowd outside a Tucson, Arizona grocery store. Lougher, who had purchased a 9mm Glock pistol with 31-round clips, killed six and seriously wounded 13 others, including US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Loughner had fired a full 31-round clip into the crowd of innocent bystanders and was subdued while attempting to reload with a second 31-round clip.

“High-capacity magazines are often the ones used in the most serious gun crimes, resulting in the most serious consequences–fatalities and major injuries to innocent people,” said Greenwald. “In our cities and across our state, gun crimes involving high-capacity magazines have too-often cut short promising young lives. Limiting magazine size will reduce violent crime and save the lives of innocent bystanders.”

A January 23rd story in the Washington Post detailed the success of the federal high-capacity magazine ban, with high-capacity magazines having declined to an historic low of 10 percent of weapons recovered by police in Virgina during the duration of the ban. Since the 2004 expiration of that ban, the rate of guns recovered that use high-capacity magazines has risen, up to a striking 22 percent in Virginia last year. Currently, the states of California, New York, Hawaii and Massachusetts limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds, which the Greenwald/Quijano bill, A-3807, would mirror.

In addition to sponsoring A-3807, Greenwald and Quijano announced the introduction of a concurrent resolution, ACR-179, urging Congress and the President to enact a similar assault weapons ban on high capacity magazines.